"What I've found amazing is how the students have worked and shared in the learning process, together."
Being on a Caribbean island you'd think that it'd be hard to all of a sudden switch gears and jump back into the classroom. However, on Monday, there we were side by side with the students, mixing it up, getting creative, and introducing them to new concepts and ideas. The theme around the camp is "Water Is Life." Tess and Pieter, the organizers as well as full time faculty members at ISA, have done a fantastic job designing the week's curriculum and activities. They've allowed us to play a complimentary role in assisting in the activities and even taking over periodically in the instruction of the day.
One aspect of this experience that I hear from our teachers is their interaction with the local students whose first language isn't English. It isn't that there is a language barrier. Quite the opposite. They've been impressed on how much English they've mastered. And for these local students, English is not taught in their schools. Their language of instruction is either Dutch or the local Papiamento. This caused a little concern from our teachers going into it, however within the first hour those concerns were
laid to rest.
But from our conversations outside the classes, reflecting on the classes so far, our teachers have tapped into their teaching talents in a way that they've never expected. Working with non-native speakers as students has made them fine tune their instruction to the point that they're mindful of the language that they use as well as see the importance of modeling for the students (and that a smile and laugh go a long way with the students). What has come out of this has been a lot of moments where they see the students have these "a-ha" moments of learning. You can see their body language and their reactions to physically see that learning is happening. If nothing else, those are the moments that make all this totally worth it.
But of course when 2pm rolls around, we're back in island mode! Sun, sea, sand, and simple relaxation! If you've been following us on social media, you've seen what I'm talking about. If not, you're missing out. But also consider following Tess and Pieter @makerpedia on Twitter and Facebook as well. They're very active on their accounts and gives followers a more in-depth look at teaching in Aruba.