As I said yesterday when I didn’t have time to write, it was a very tough day at Ave Maria. Here was my Wednesday.
I got to Ana’s room at 12:30 and were were there until about 1:15pm. I don’t believe any of the students got their work done because it was so chaotic in the classroom. I was trying to help the younger students again with their drawings, and the older students were supposed to be working on their own work, but they would keep coming around and bugging to younger ones. They were all throwing pencils around the room, erasers, anything they could find. Ana practically had to raise her voice the entire time. I feel so bad because she is such a great teacher and trying so hard. But when there are so many students who don’t want to do anything, what can she do? Every time she would turn around, something would happen. One of the younger students wanted to throw a chair at an older student who kept throwing pencils at him, and they both started to tell Ana false information, so I had to tell her what really happened. It was just a very tough 45 minutes in the classroom. The younger students didn’t finish their work, and I couldn’t even hear the students that I was right next to trying to talk to because the classroom was so loud. Ana told the students that she was embarrassed by them because it seems every time I come to her classroom, it’s chaotic. I never even got a chance to talk to Ana more than a few seconds.
After Ana’s class, it was time for the younger students to get outside for gym time. Again, I really think transitions are a huge part of the problem. The students just get their bags, wander through the hallways and goof around, some are supposed to be in one room for a few minutes, but they are just everywhere. Miguel, the gym teacher, told me to take the few students down to the gym area and he would be there in just a second. So, I took about four students outside. Before I knew it, I was alone outside with about 15 or more students. It was about 10 minutes later and Miguel still wasn’t down here and there was only one soccer ball for the students to use, the rest of the gym equipment was not yet out. One boy, Isaac, who I had mentioned last week that the teachers believe may suffer from bi-polar disorder, started going around and fighting some other students, mostly one boy. Meanwhile some students are playing soccer, others are wandering around the school, and here I am, alone, trying to stop Isaac from fighting this one student. I believe Isaac is about 11 or 12 years old. Isaac would not stop fighting this student when I kept telling him to stop. When the other student starting running away, I took Isaac’s arm to stop him so he would not longer fight him. He was very angry and kept telling me to let go, and that he wanted to hurt the other kid. I told him I can’t let go because he can’t hurt the other student. He then started hitting and kicking me and got away. This student really did want to hurt me.
Once he got away, I just could not help my emotions and started crying. I didn’t want to cry in front of the other students, but I was so frustrated that Miguel would leave me alone with these students with no gym equipment, and knowing I don’t speak Spanish that well. Plus, Isaac was just kicking and hitting me, a teacher. I told him I was going to get Miguel. So, while I was walking towards the school to get Miguel, still trying to stop crying, one little girl was accompanying me this entire time since we first came out, Ainhoa, and she had seen everything that happened. I saw Miguel up ahead coming towards the gym and tried to pull myself together, but he could something was wrong because I was crying and he got very concerned. I said I didn’t know how to explain it in Spanish, so Ainhoa, the little girl who saw everything, explained what had happened and that Isaac had been fighting kids, and then was hitting and kicking me. He went right away to get Isaac and brought him to the principals office. Finally, I was able to stop crying. Meanwhile all the students were coming up and giving me hugs, asking if I was okay. Miguel asked me if I wanted to go home, I said that I wanted to say. He said after gym he would get another teacher who speaks English so he could translate what happened to the principal. So, the rest of gym time was just fine, we played soccer and basketball and had a good rest of the time. There were no other problems with the students.
When 2 ‘o clock came around, all the students picked up, got their bags, and headed towards the lunch building. I walked the the principals office with Miguel, and met Mario (the other teacher), Isaac, and Francis (the principal) there. I told Mario what happened, and he translated for me. They were all disappointed with Issac, and when they asked him why he did this and what happened, he said nothing. I’m not sure he was listening to whole time or not, he just kept staring, no emotions and no sympathy for what had just happened. They let him go, and told me they take these things really seriously because they are so worried about Isaac and his behavior. They were very nice and said they are so sorry this happened, and they will make sure situations like this will not happen again, as far as me being left alone with the children. They were very worried that I would not want to come back, and I said of course I do. There are sometimes tough days at the preschool I work at back home, and other days great. That is just the way children are. Last week Isaac was very nice to me, and this week something got a hold of him. But I would never hold that against Isaac, the rest of the children, or the school. It was just a tough day, and tough days happen.
When I got home for lunch, Marisa asked how my day was and how the children were. I told her I just couldn’t really talk about it right now because it wasn’t very good. And yet again, me being so sensitive, started crying again. What had just happened was still fresh in my mind and the whole situation was just sort of scary. I felt Isaac was really a danger to the students, and that’s what got to me the most. If he’s okay with hurting a teacher, what is he going to do next?
Marisa is so kind, came over to me and kept hugging me. Even though I didn’t tell her what had happened yet, she said that I am doing everything I can to help those students, and whatever happened today is not my fault. She told me that I am doing something great in helping those children and this school can be unpredictable. We talked a little bit longer, and it felt really great to have Marisa there to help me through. She told me that she knows the feeling, not being physically hurt, but she said she thinks that my heart hurts a little from whatever happened today She was right. What a great host mother 🙂
So, that was my day. Emotional, difficult, but at the same time rewarding. I say rewarding too because the entire time this situation was going down, Ainhoa, a 9 year old girl who loves when I come to the school and always greets me with hugs, was talking to me the entire time. Last week, she told me she had a sign language book, and I told her when I was little that I learned some sign language. Ainhoa is an only child and lives at the school Monday-Friday. Well today, she comes and greets me with a big hug, and pulls a little notebook paper out of her pocket. On the notebook paper, she had all the letters of the alphabet in sign language, plus she had a little hand drawing for each sign! What dedication she took to draw little mini hands in the form of the letter…better than I could ever draw! After the situation with Isaac, we went through each letter together and signed with our hands and spelled the names of some of the students in class. She truly is a great little girl and has such motivation from what I have seen. I was just surprised that after our conversation about it last week, she did all this to show me she knew them and had been studying them more. Also, when talking to her, if I don’t understand something in Spanish I ask her, and she explains it another way or more slowly. She is great at doing that and likes to help me out and teach me words we see outside or around the school. Part of me sees a little bit of “teacher” in her too 🙂