Moving forward

According to this article: one “should expect phases of adjustment. These stages usually are:

Initial excitement of the honeymoon period
Period of confusion and worry
Recovery phase
Repeated culture shock followed by re-recovery
Finally, there is a breakthrough

Not sure where the hell I am, but the good thing is that I´ve been able to move past how I felt in  last post. I have to give thanks to a very kind person who has worked in Colombia and offered to chat with me. I feel so grateful to her because she helped me put things into perspective: I carry the image of the American whether I like it or not and I carry a boatload of privilege as a foreigner. Many Colombians are underpaid and overworked while foreigners get more pay and perks, so people are rightfully angry, but I must not take it personally because it isn´t about me. It´s about the forces at work and when she compared it to gentrification in cities, I totally got it. I do have a lot of privilege as a foreigner. I am getting paid more than my colleagues at my university. I moved from the first place  I was living to another place I found online on the same day I decided I wanted to move out. I know that the average Colombian would not be able to just pick up and go on the same day. So, with all of this in mind, I was able to let go of my frustration in that moment. I felt lighter and my sadness dissipated. I no longer feel angry about that.

But just when I thought I had gotten over something, I end up having some challenging few days in my classes. I had some issues with a class that I considered very disrespectful: they talk when I am talking, they don´t pay attention, etc. My reaction was to get angry and try to take away privileges. Bad idea because that only caused resentment and anger within the class. I now see that that isn´t the way to go as a teacher, and while I think they are wrong to think that their behavior is okay (which they tried to explain), I also need to watch how I respond to my students and approach teaching in a different way. I´ve been reading a lot about having empathy in the classroom because I think that will help me be more calm in the setting I am in. I also think there are other techniques that will be more effective in getting the entire class on the same page, such as silently waiting until students quiet down. This week, I am asking for oral feedback from all of my classes in an effort to see how my students are feeling in class, what they thinking of my teaching, and what improvements can be made. I started today, and I felt it went well. Granted, those classes haven´t given me any trouble, so I am dreading a couple of classes where I know I haven´t been as calm as I should´ve been. The positives are that I will improve as a teacher. Although I feel like a failure, I know that if I can get through this week, I can get through anything. That´s what´s keeping me going.

Some updates:

  •  I started a Spelling Bee competition at my university. We are now beginning the first rounds of the competition, and in April, we will have our finals. Many students are super excited, but quite a few are super nervous , so I`ve been trying to raise their confidence. I`m excited to see how the finals will go. I`d love for the university to continue hosting Spelling Bees, so I´m trying to have this go as smoothly as possible.
  • A couple of weeks ago, I completed some FIRST AID and CPR courses at the Colombian Red Cross here in Botoga for a summer position I was offered. My CPR teacher told me that I should sign up for the CPR instructor course because I ´´did everything perfectly´´! Huge ego boost!!  Today, I started to take stick shift driving lessons for that job as well. It´s a little complicated, but I think I did pretty good.
  • Lastly, this past Friday, I started my dance on camera project with amateur and professional dancers of the ConCuerpos Danza Inclusiva dance company. We are working at the Biblioteca Virgilio Barco in Bogota, and the entire piece will be created, rehearsed and filmed on location. I hope to edit the video with the videographer mid-may and show it a few days before I leave. My flight is on May 31st, so we are working fast. This has been quite the busy semester!

Time is flying by, and while this semester seems to be harder than the last for me, I am going to try to focus on some self tlc. I really enjoyed my driving lesson today, and I always feel fulfilled when I work on my social project. So, I am going to focus on the things that bring me joy, and keep finding ways to be a happy and effective teacher. I want to improve as a teacher, and I think that the effort I put in now to do so will release some of the stresses of the job.




2 thoughts on “Moving forward

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