Well, we did it! Everyone survived the first week of school. Everything went pretty smoothly, and I am so excited to continue teaching these kids! This first week was pretty laid back because apparently it's a normal thing here that a lot of students don't even come the first week of school. There were so few students in grades 5-7 (the grades I will be teaching) that we combined them on Monday and Tuesday. I spent some time just observing while the experienced teachers reiterated school rules and expectations and then we all told each other about our summers, played games, etc. Later in the week, I reviewed some of the important topics they should have learned last year. They were so excited to learn and were able to pull some of that information out of their dusty summer brains. On Friday, all schools were shut down because of the tropical depression (even though it was sunny almost the entire day), and I was able to actually rest some for the first time in a couple of weeks.
Last Friday, I went to Natali's English class with her because it is right after work and we are sharing a car. Now, this is not a basic English class. This is an English class for English teachers who are already teaching English and are looking to improve even more. The professor noticed me immediately because I stick out like a sore thumb everywhere I go. He asked me to stand up and tell everyone who I am and what I am doing in the Dominican Republic. My announcement that I am teaching natural sciences at a school for the deaf with sign language being the primary language and supporting that with vocabulary in Spanish so the kids will be able to read and write those words in the future sparked a language discussion in the class. A little while later, the professor approached me and said, "Since you're here, I need to ask you a favor. I have to go teach another class for an hour, so you're going to teach this one. Here's the book, just talk about what it says, ask them questions, have them discuss. Just let them hear your accent and make them practice speaking in English. You'll be great. Good luck!"And just like that, he left…Now standing at the front of the class, I turned to face them and saw about thirty pairs of eyes on me, waiting expectantly. So, I taught. After an hour, it was time for break. Then the teacher came back, taught for a while, approached me again and said, "I need to deliver some paperwork, so the class is all yours again!" And he left…again…He came back at the end of class and said I'm welcome to come every Friday and take some work off of his plate. The students were very kind and told me I did a great job. I was also apparently very famous, as the teachers I was teaching told their teacher friends in other classes about what had happened. After class, the professor talked to me and Natali about the school and said he would like to visit some time. He is a very respected man with a lot of experience and power, so this could be a great opportunity.
Tomorrow I begin introducing new topics to my students. I have studied and prepared so much, but I still feel extremely underprepared. I could use prayer for increased trust in the Lord's provision, for strength of mind to continue learning and retaining these concepts in new languages, and for clarity in my communication with my students. Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. It means the world to me.