The worldwide Augustana College experience

Jamaica- A Jamaican Attitude

If you cannot tell by now, I am a planner and I love using schedules, both of which we were able to use today (well, at least for the morning). In the weeks leading up to working at the Alpha schools, the elementary education group has been very anxious and lost because we did not know any details about how many boys we would have, how old they are, or what their ability levels are. We stuck to our schedule in the morning, first seeing first grade, then second, then third. But after lunch, Brother Armond threw the fourth and sixth graders into one group, and we again had to made some schedule changes. But as a teacher, schedule changes always happen and there is never a day that goes as planned. 

Aside from some lack of organization, I absolutely love working with the Alpha boys. I am learning so much from them, including what they like to do, what kind of music they like, and about their culture. As the older boys came into class after lunch, I noticed that many of them were older than we had planned (about 14 to 16 years old). Us elementary folks are not used to working with students this old, so I knew we were possibly in for some surprises. I was aware that these boys had been causing some issues with the athletic group before lunch, so I decided to lay down the law from the start. I explained that we are visitors, but they are to respect us just as they respect their other teachers. I also explained that we expect them to raise their hands if they wanted to speak or answer a question instead of all shouting at once. I feel like starting with these expectations worked well because later when I was teaching and they all began shouting out the answer, they told one another to stay quiet and raised their hands instead. :)

The group I worked with was an absolute riot. They were very respectful and excited about the math content. I actually had a bit of a hard time challenging them because they knew the planned content so well! We worked together on fractions, and the students impressed me with their knowledge of converting fractions, adding/subtracting/multiplying fractions, and finding the improper fraction from a mixed number! We also played fraction war which was great to watch from my point of view. It was so exciting to see the Alpha boys get really riled up over the game, but then calm each other down and stay quiet so they could hear the correct answer. Near the end, they sang me Bruno Mars songs and performed the Ganghnam style dance for me. Although these boys are from a different country and have been raised in a different world from the students I have taught, they really are not that different from one another, showing how we really are “one.”

I could not have ended my day better than the way I did. I was lucky enough and blessed to hear the Alpha boys play a few songs for us. I could not believe that many of these boys have only been playing for a few months and play by ear! I am so happy to have met all of these boys; each one of them has a good heart and fill me with joy. I am sad to say that tomorrow will be our last day working with them. 

P.S. I wish I was tech savvy enough to know how to add a video of the boys playing “Lean On Me” to this blog!

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