Greenbank-Seagrave Mission Team
Breakfast at 7:30 again. Carmen had pancakes and fruit ready for us…and coffee. We had an 8am departure for our busy day ahead. The weather is beautiful and muggy this morning – perfect for outdoor activities!
We arrived at The School of Hope ready to hit the ground running. Today’s format was a little different – we were at the school for their entire morning class rotation. We held 5 stations for the 5 classes, and each station was roughly an hour. The teachers rotated with the children to learn new activities and teaching resources that we were offering.
In the morning Brian with Stan’s assistance led the English classes. This time with the other teachers and principals rotating in to observe the children engaged in the lessons. Through songs, poems, movement and chants the children were immersed in rich language. Stan helped them with creating sentences from their word banks. Students enjoyed saying their newly created English sentences to Stan and Brian. The grade three students learned another two notes on their recorder. Stan noticed an “ah ha” moment when the students started to recognize a familiar tune with only four recorder notes. The grade two and one students continued to learn notes for their hand bells while learning a corresponding English song with new vocabulary emphasizing syllables, rhyming words, punctuation, pronouns, tenses and little words inside bigger words. The pre-school and kindergarten students recapped their new phrases from previous days. It is a busy morning for teachers from 8:30-1:00 to keep the students engaged and focused on rich tasks. The goal is to instill a love for learning. Education is their ticket to the future.
Today's Science Fair was attended by Preschool, Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. Cathy designed age appropriate experiments for each group. Preschool worked on investigating the magic of colour. The Kindergarten Students played with Kitchen Chemistry which involved experimenting with yeast, blowing up balloons with vinegar and baking soda and playing with a non-Newtonian fluid. The Grade 1's had the opportunity to investigate the water cycle and power the power of water. Science is not a topic offered in schools in Guatemala, and for all of the children, and even some of the teachers and interpreters, this was their first taste of the magic of science. Their little faces delighted in seeing the effects of their experiments - sometimes squealing with excitement. The morning was organized chaos and completely magical. In the afternoon, Cathy prepared each individual experiment to leave with the School. This enables the teachers to continue teaching a few aspects of science for years to come.
The covered balcony overlooking the front of the School of Hope was a fabulous location for Judy's craft classes this morning! The students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 were eager to learn how to make friendship bracelets and excited to see them take form. The Kindergarten teacher commented on what a great learning project this was for her students!
Rod, Doug, Kelly, Dianne and Juli all helped organize games and soccer with the students of the School of Hope this morning. Doug, Kelly and Rod played soccer with the kids as they rotated through the stations of activities. Rod played goal and made some impressive saves. Kelly split his difference while in goal. Dianne set up a relay race, an obstacle course and tic tac toe. Juli gave the kids a crash course in yoga. All in all another fun morning with the kids.
The team high-fived the children and handed each a goody bag on their way to the school bus at the end of their school day at 1pm. They had smiles, hugs and happy voices as they said their good-byes for the day.
While all the organized chaos was happening around the school, Stephanie ran a concurrent Barbering Workshop with three women (Marisol and Monica and Monica) who returned today to finish their barber training. The focus was on learning how to cut long hair. A total of six children received haircuts today. Two teachers were able to squeeze in haircuts between classes as the women in training watched Stephanie and learned. The children who received the haircuts were so patient and well behaved. Thanks to the generosity of Whal Canada, Laurie-Anne Richardson, and Kathleen Potts the School of Hope and two women are equipped to build upon the new skills learned this week.
We were all starving by lunch at 1pm – exhausted, sweaty and ready for a siesta…but no rest for the weary. We had a quick lunch of fruit, sandwiches, fresh guacamole and chips. We ate on the balcony with stunning views of the mountains. We then headed to the afternoon projects.
On our last official day of the Build-A-Home project, Doug, Dianne, Stephanie and Krista headed to the build site in the afternoon to finish up. When they got to the home, Miguel, the labourer (and the son of Carmen, our cook/cleaner) had completed the roof and windows in the morning and the crew set to work on completing hanging the door, installing the trim and painting the exterior. At one point, a hinge went missing. The whole crew with the exception of Doug was stuck in the house as the door was only half installed and the hinge was required to open it again. As everyone else looked frantically inside the house for the missing hinge, Doug played marbles with some of the children. Coming back to check the progress he asked if they needed the hinge inside. Oh, but they did. In the meantime, Stephanie climbed through the window to continue making progress on the paint outside. As they worked, a faint noise could be heard over and over next door. Stephanie peeked over the fence to see that it was the next door women removing dried kernels of corn from cobs, to grind into maize (corn flour). With the exception of the last colour (teal), the house painting was completed. The rest to be applied in the morning. Before they left, Krista noticed that another neighbours roof had a loose tin panel. Every breeze folded the panel over, opening the roof. Krista used the ladder and climbed up, hammering several new nails in to hold it in place for a while longer.
Brian led an education professional development session with 15 teachers representing five schools. All the teachers and principals appreciated the strategies and activities that moved the group through inclusion, influence, and community. Brian’s Tribes instructional strategies allowed the participants to see the benefit of working together to learn from each other. “No one is as smart as all of us”. Using “collaborative professionalism” the teachers saw benefit of learning together. The Guatemalan teachers were impressed to learn the research behind collaborative cooperative learning. The workshop was completely translated into Spanish thanks to Dan Ingram from Ontario, a friend of Brian’s and on the spot translation by Carlos, Brian’s teaching partner here in Guatemala. The workshop moved the teachers through instructional strategies that focused student engagement, cooperative learning and student voice. Many of their current lessons focus on rote memory with teacher directed lessons. They learned about multiple intelligences of their students and metacognition strategies through the TRIBES' process. They loved their new learnings and could hardly wait to weave curriculum content into their newly learned strategies. These teachers are highly valued and are making a difference in the lives of the Guatemalan children. Brian is always pleasantly surprised to see how exciting it is for the teachers to receive their very own personal hygiene kit: tooth paste, shampoo, tooth bush, comb, face cloth, hand lotion, soap, Q-Tips, and band aids and classroom supplies.
Overall, it was an extremely successful afternoon. After the workshop each participant received a certificate of completion and enjoyed refreshments that were provided by the host school. All the attending teachers had a mobile cell number that works in various Internet cafes in the city. Brian decided to put them all on the “What’s Up” App to create an online community of learners. This made Brian’s day!
Kelly and Rod spent the afternoon in the shade, scraping, washing and painting the wrought iron bars on the windows of the school. It wasn’t a hard job, but it gave the entrance of the school a fresh look and the windows are now ready for the rainy season that starts any day now. After a sweaty morning playing soccer and games, both men were nursing a sore bodies, so they were thankful for the shade!
Juli spent the afternoon with 3 women from yesterday in the sewing co-op. They were all ready to continue on with their drawstring backpacks. There was little conversation today, as they were focused and enjoying “playing” with the machines. We gave them the freedom to create new patterns…and they amazed us with placing pockets on them using their traditional weave of fabrics. They lined them and paid attention to details…and they were so happy and proud of their finished products! Each woman completed 2 backpacks by the end of the day. Marisol, Rosa, and Gladys were so grateful for their time at the Sewing Co-op and the opportunity to learn and make practical items for their home use. It was a happy and sad goodbye as we have been working with these women all week in one way or another. They all asked to come back “manana” and wanted to know when we were returning to teach them more. Their eagerness was an awesome display of their gratitude.
We landed back in Antigua around 5:20 – and half of the team went off to the market for a quick tour, and the other half of the team got cleaned up and ready for dinner. Many of the team sang “Happy Birthday” to Adrianna all the way from the streets of Antigua, Guatemala. Carmen made chicken and vegetables for us for dinner – it was in a delicious authentic sauce that only Carmen could make. We spent the evening chatting, blogging, reminiscing over our work this week. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day in the field…the week has flown by. The rice, beans and guacamole is catching up with most of us, so as a team we have decided that the one word that sums up the day is “shart”.
Thanks for reading again today, and we look forward to sharing more stories tomorrow.
GS Mission Team