Anyone who knows me knows that I have a strange kind of “hero worship” when it comes to great teachers. I use the word hero because this is truly how I view them. A master teacher is someone who is capable of seeing the best in others and then helping them to see that in themselves. They understand and embody both the art and science of teaching. They clearly connect and “click” with their students and hold them accountable, pushing them to do the work that is required for real learning. It is something that is very difficult to describe or define, but when you are in the presence of such a teacher, you know it.
I have been lucky to work with SO MANY incredible teachers.( I would even write their names here but I am worried that I would forget someone)–so instead I am going to focus on two teachers that I met yesterday. They are both English teachers at public Colombian schools. In Colombia the public schools are free of cost, but usually serve students who are from low income families.
The first teacher I met was Sandra Gonzalez, who teaches at the Institucion Educativa Distrital Confederaciones Brisas del Diamente . It is located in the southern part of Bogota, in an area of extreme poverty. This school served students from the 1st to the 12th grade. The students at the higher grades received technical training either in the culinary arts or in administrative work. Ms. Gonzalez helped her students to prepare multiple presentations, in English, about their school. Her English was excellent and her engagement with and commitment to her students was amazing. The students were a bit shy at first but soon were using their English to ask all kinds of questions about the music we like, our children and pets, and where we were from the in the states.
They were clearly proud to take us on a tour of their school. They have a bakery to learn the culinary arts, access to computers and they even have a robotics team. The students of Room 218 will be excited to learn that their school had a recycling museum! They created all kinds of sculptures and art works using recycled materials! This elephant was made of plastic bottles and cardboard!
The second teacher I met was Ibeth Puello , an English teacher at the Institucion Educativa Distrital Usaquen. At her school she uses an English language “immersion room” to teach her students. They are lucky at their school to have volunteers from other countries come to help the students study topics such as music, human rights and social studies–all using English! One of her students even won a scholarship to study English in England for three weeks! The students in her school treated us to some traditional Colombian dance performances and then used their English skills to answer many of our questions about their life and schooling. They explained to us that their school is a “green” school. They students in the school work to create projects to help the environment. One of these is the solar energy station. pictured below. I loved that they used recycled bottles to look like apples and leaves on a tree!
Both teachers were eager to reach out and make connections with the kids at Cumberland School–in fact, some of the students from the Brisas Del Diamente school answered some of our questions on our blog! Check out the comments from my last blog to see if your question was answered!
Tomorrow I will go to a new city in Colombia–Armenia, where I will get to meet even more students and visit more schools.
Question for kids: I was so happy to see the “upcycling” projects at these schools. What questions would you ask the Colombian students about what they do to help the environment?