Friday, November 20, 2015
Emotional Development in Ecuador
Colegio Menor is a private institution in Cúmbaya, Ecuador that provides a full-immersion bilingual program. The school's incredible resources, such as their developed arts and music program or the latest technology in the classrooms, immediately drew my attention on my first visit. However, what outshined these incredible opportunities was my teacher's emphasis on emotional development. To understand how my teacher incorporates emotional development into the school day given the demanding curriculum, I asked her how she does it. She told me that she places importance on literacy and math, but her top priority as a teacher is her students´ well-being. She wants her classroom to be a safe place where first graders feel loved and connected with one another. She believes that this connection is necessary to succeed in literacy, math and science.
There are three ways that my teacher incorporates emotional development into her lessons that stand out from my experiences in New York and Boston. The first two strategies are a result of Ecuadorian culture. In Ecuador, people are very affectionate. They greet one another with a hug and kiss on one cheek and greet each other by first name. In the classroom, this means that the students call the teacher by her first name, which makes her image as a teacher more relatable and approachable. At drop off and pick up, my teacher always gives a hug and kiss to her students and their parents. This creates meaningful friendships within the school community. Unlike the formality found in American schools, Colegio Menor develops a relaxed, comfortable and amicable atmosphere. Lastly, my teacher integrates song into her daily routine. She sings with the students in Morning Circle and transitions, and also in lessons to learn high frequency words, reinforce word families, to name a few. My teacher takes advantage of the academic benefits of singing as well as the expressive and creative benefits.
I really admire the way that my cooperating teacher integrates emotional support into her daily routine. She connects the students with one another and creates a safe space for her students to explore and learn. When I return to the U.S., I want to bring with me what I’ve learned about emotional development through my teacher and Colegio Menor as a whole.