School Starts This Week … I Think.
Yes, it’s true.
Our beautiful summer is over. As friends and family in the states are posting pictures of their first walks in t-shirts, I am pulling out my jackets and sweaters from the back of my closet.
Okay, I’m exaggerating a tad. It is starting to get chilly here in the nights and in the mornings, BUT the reality is that I am typing this right now in a tank top. Fall in Chile is absolutely nothing to complain about!
Here are some pics from our “last weekend of summer” when we spent the day at the beach with Pastor, Ellen, and Jenny.
Overall, it was a wonderful summer, and we were thankful to end it spending a wonderful day with our mission team.
Apart from the fact that the seasons are completely turned around here, another “weird” thing is that the school year starts in March. How strange to be going back to school when all my teacher friends and family are just starting to see the end in sight!
In the past, the start of the school year brought deep, dark feelings of dread. Please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE teaching, but the thought of losing my free summer days to long work hours was never a fun idea. Also, my plans to work ahead during summer simply never happened which usually left me in last-minute panic preparation mode.
This year, the start of the school year was very different and can be summarized in four words. I HAVE NO IDEA.
- When do teachers return? I have no idea.
- When do the students return? I have no idea.
- What will my contract look like? I have no idea.
- What will be books/curriculum be? I have no idea.
- What day do we actually start teaching? I have no idea.
The funny thing is … my being in the dark had nothing to do with a language barrier. (There’s a first time for everything!) It did, however, have everything to do with the wonderful world of the Chilean Education System.
In Chile, teachers are hired by the Department of Education, not by the individual schools. Because of this, all the teachers of all the schools in a specific area have to organize their contract with the DAEM. This organization usually happens … the week that school begins.
Originally, we thought that we started working on a Tuesday. Then we were told to sign new contracts on Wednesday. Then we found out that our contracts were changed. Then one office told us to start working on Thursday. Ten minutes later, another office told us to start on the following Monday. Later that evening, we received a phone call from someone who said we should actually start in two weeks.
So… we just picked a day and went with it, and it turned out to be the right day! We think.
The first week of school was a beautiful chaos. School ran “as usual” even though an official schedule hadn’t yet been figured out. Teachers just went with the flow. Homeroom teachers received all the new books/curriculum for each class on the Monday that the students returned. They and the students had a fun time going through the books to see what was going to be taught this year.
For those of you who know me, you might think that my over-organized brain would have burst! However, it was actually very peaceful and exciting returning to school. It was a wonderful déjà vu of my time growing up on the island of Antigua. Yes I love to be prepared, but it was also nice to acknowledge that some things are just out of your hands.
Also, the disorganization reminds me that our main job in Chile and as Christians on earth is not to be the “best teacher ever.” We should certainly strive to always do our best at whatever our job is BUT our main job is to live as witnesses for Him and to share His love with as many people as possible!
Thank goodness that can be done even without knowing your curriculum!
Highlights of a first week of school
- A new student in kindergarten was so confused when I came to his class for the first time. He exclaimed, “Why does she talk so different?”
- With improved Spanish I have found out just how funny some of my faculty members are! Oh the things I missed out on last year…
- The kitchen ladies made me a tea with special herbs when I got food poisoning.
- Many students really enjoyed telling me know many times they saw me or my gringo friends this summer.
- I presented to a group of kindergarten parents and was shocked/happy when they all greeted me in English just like their kids do! I guess some English is making its way home.
- A coworker asked me for advice on camping in a specific spot in the mountains. We’re on our way to becoming Chile hiking experts!
- As a whole, everyone was so kind and expressed happiness that I was back – and I was able to express how happy I am to be back. (=