"…the best and most efficient way to learn something is to write about it, because it kind of parboils your attention, and forces you to really crystalize your intellect and… gather your information with great discipline (to) come up with conclusions." - Elizabeth Gilbert
“…I love to take notes- often for no apparent reason. I’m always marking up books, making odd lists, gathering examples of strange categories, copying messages. For some reason, I like working on some permanent, undefined research project” – Gretchen Rubin
I blog to learn and to make a record of my life. It is like writing a book without a plot.
mine has lead me of course to Haiti. The power goes off from time to time (but we have a generator and a groundkeeper that has our back) and there isn’t as much access to things as there is in Canada but my life in Haiti is pretty damn sweet. I have been able to experience the culture as well as have a maid, a driver and now a full luxury pool just outside my door.
Some of my friends went to the capital of Ecuador, the mountains of Bhutan, the crowded city of England, the mean streets of Toronto begging to teach anything that walked, the supply lists of KPR and any board that would hire them, the backwoods teaching world of outdoor ed, the northern Canada Native reserves and the list goes on.
Some of their classrooms (or lack of when the forest is your class) are filled with the finest technology, and equipped with all of the latest gadgets of the modern teaching world. Some of us (like me) have a mix of both. Concrete walls with frequent power outages. But the idea is all the same. To spend time with kids and to teach them a little and learn a lot from them. What I am saying is that no matter where we teach it is all the same, the methods are just a little different based on the kids.
This job is an arduous one but as I think about taking two weeks off (one to see my best friend Marley get married) I think about how much I will miss their silly antics.
in a few months.
Can you believe that my contract is up in June, that I have almost finished my two years here in Haiti? I can’t, I really can’t.
As a result I have been thinking a lot about this country and the school. I love this country without a doubt and would come back here if another opportunity arose. It is time for me to head home, put my head down and get to the grind. I want to teach in Ontario so that is what I am going to do. I woke up this morning and started editing my resume (again for what seems like the billionth time). Just looking at it made me get goosebumps. I hate job hunting, but I took this last two years to beef up my resume and learn a hell of a lot so now is the time to market all of the hard work that has gone into my first two years of teaching.
What do I say in a resume (in under 5 sentences) that sum up the most challenging two years of my professional and personal life? I keep thinking of great answers to interview questions.
Question: What do you do to teach to English Language Learners? I got that. 75% of my class is trilingual, the other 10% are bilingual and the rest of us are lame ole 1 language speakers or 4 or more language speakers.
Tell me about a time when you experienced a challenging situation that was out of your control and how you dealt with it? Your literacy program, creating interactive lessons, using technology, accreditation process, PLC’s yadda yadda yadda. Our fear when moving here and working for 2 years is that schools in Canada may not count 2 years teaching in Haiti as 2 years of teaching experience. We feared that it wasn’t the same as working in Canada or a developed country where things are more similar to the school system in Canada. This thought is always present in my mind and here is what I have to say about it.
No I am not teaching Ontario curriculum, not dealing with Canadian issues with kids and am not used to the way things run in an Ontario school. But Haiti teaches you resourcefulness (by force sometimes) and to let things go. You need to pick your battles. If you freak out every time you don’t have water, or power, or can’t get to where you think you need to go (you often don’t need to, you want to) then you will be fighting always. You can’t put this North American sense of urgency and immediacy on a country that moves at a slower pace. If traffic pisses you off then 2 hours of your day will spent holding on to frustration. This has made me a better teacher and drastically changed the person that I am. I pray that I hold onto this as I transition back to Canada. This is what I have learned while here and I know it will bleed into my life as a teacher. When I am here I often link my lessons to Canada, to show my students a new perspective. When I am home I will often link things to Haiti. This country is so gorgeous, so happy, so full and the media is painting it as an unsafe, uncealn, unhappy place and it is the exact opposite.
I feel safe here. I am at a cafe blogging, solo. I would be doing this at home on a Saturday morning. Same stuff, different place. Do the streets all need to look the same with evenly paved sidewalks? Yes, your walk to work may be more adventurous but you can still get from place to place on rocky Port-au-prince sidewalks. There is trash in the gutters but people sweep it up (sometimes they are paid by the government, sometimes they do it because they want a beautiful Haiti to be proud of). When you see a merchant on the street from dawn until dusk you may think they are unhappy because they do not live the way that North Americans live. They do not have as much. There house isn’t as strongly built or as orderly. But happiness can not always be read on one’s face. That merchant may go home to a big beautiful family that has just enough food to eat that night and more love than can fit in their house.
As I said, I am learning.
All teachers have been here before.
and whimper if school starts for you tomorrow and you’re SO not ready.