Friday, January 25, 2008

Teaching the "Celebrating the Faith" Curriculum

Surprise, surprise - words about teaching and curriculum from me! I had the pleasure of working with students in first and second grade during their vacation bible school classes. My knowledge of teaching, curriculum, lesson design and the development of children were fairly useless as I faced a class of about 75 eager Nicaraguan faces. I was humbled by the positive temperament, joyful attitudes and self-discipline of all the children. Luckily, there were six adult representatives from the community with me, one of whom possessed a clear connection to the kids. I learned that she worked in the library, and had been providing educational experiences to the kids for the past five years. She became the primary teacher.

The lessons were all connected somehow to the "Celebration of the Faith." On day one, we talked about the fact that God calls us. On day two, we discussed being good listeners and good friends. On the third day, we talked about God changing us. The readings and activities reflected these concepts. The students - who are committted to Father Rodriguez - were responsive and engaged in each of the lessons. He set the tone for work each day by announcing the theme along with his expectations for the children. We all sang together then went to our respective rooms for the lessons and crafts.

I was overwhelmed by the way the children responded to me - clearly aware that my Spanish is poor at best, yet patiently responding to clapping games and "Simon Says" as opening activities. I was quite pleased to earn the title "Profe" (short for profesora - or teacher) after just the first day. I was also very encourgaed by the fact that children chose to read to me while I sat next to them - demonstrating thier skills.

On the first day, I tried to maintain some semblance of decorum - keeping quietly to the side after my opening clapping game, but by day two, I was on the floor in the glue, sticking buttons on the faces of the elephants we made. (The point of our elephant activity was to have a depiction of the fact that we don't need ears as big as an elephant to hear when God calls us!)

By day three, I was covered in glue and yarn and ribbon, and extremely proud of the masks that the students made to show that our faces can change and we can always be good Christians.

Following lunch, we culminated our VBS activities with a fiesta. A clown, music, dancing, musical chairs and relay races were enjoyed by all. The highlight for many of the children was watching several of the adults attempt to break the pinatas! And everyone recieved a cup full of sweets to take home.

It is important to mention that throughout the entire party, children brought a wide range of gifts to all of us. They were so thoughtful and generous in their need to thank us for our small contribution to their summer. While I could not immediately see the results as those who did the hard labor of cleaning and painting could, I was deeply encouraged that friendships were forged, relationships built and good lessons learned by all who participated in the VBS in San Juan de Oriente.

Looking forward to sharing more in person,



Anonymous said...

I've really enjoyed reading the postings, especially the meeting with the children. It sounds like it's been quite the trip.

I hope there will be a group picture. I'm still not sure which Chuck went on the trip.

Kathryn Killeen

Anonymous said...

Great post Jennifer, thank you!
Anne Lyn