So we've got a week of JumpStart under our belt and I think we can all agree it went flying by! Our team of 8 student teachers has helped us more than we could have ever imagined while learning at the same time. The kids are spending a total of 7 hours a day in the high school (which is a huge jump for them since local elementary schools tend to have maximum 3 hours of class) but our student teachers are real leaders who keep them motivated and focused. Every day goes by faster. Danilo and I have been having a lot of fun and the kids are really picking it up fast. After class each day I stay in the high school with the kids who stay overnight (the ones from a really remote community). We relax, have Bon fires in the usile (traditional conical house) and review the day's homework (they generally struggle a bit more than the rest of the group). Sometimes, even after I've collapsed into bed I hear them reviewing the day's vocabulary aloud. They will be the first students from thei community to attend high school (ever). We are extremely glad they were able to attend the camp.
Last week our student teacher team helped us overcome some serious challenges. One day there was no water in the high school. The students all took buckets and went with us to find water so that we could have lunch. Two students volunteered to come on Saturday (today) to help me carry the food for lunch. They each are in charge of a team of 6 students who they motivate, support and help.
One student, who I taught sometimes in school (once a week for 6 months) was so shy. I literally could not get her to speak during English class, or stand up, or participate or do anything. I tried talking to her about it after class (Was there something wrong? Did she dislike the class? What would she like to do in class?) but she simply wouldn't respond. During JumpStart she has participated in games, spoken in English in front of the group and the other day won two points for her team ( because she listened and remembered what another person said in English ). It was one of the few times I've seen her smile. She's still very shy but she's made some huge steps during this camp in her English learning and willingness to participate. I think this has a lot to do with the team structure of the camp and the positive re-enforcement of her group leader ( a high school 9th grader (one of two students who completed all 35 hours of the extra classes that were offered during the summer to train the student teachers. He has a very contagious positive attitude that he uses to motivate his students.
- Anna Ferris