Practicum Week

Emily and I spent last week in the city of León (the 2nd biggest city in Nicaragua) with eight other TEFL trainees. While in León, we were tasked with co-teaching four classes, solo teaching one class, and observing at least two classes of our peers. It was a wonderful experience, and great to spend an entire week with Emily. Here are some highlights:

The Good

  • Experiencing a new part of Nicaragua

  • Learning I can improvise in the classroom

  • Speaking mostly English during my classes, even though I was teaching the two youngest grades (7th & 8th)

  • Building my confidence as a teacher

  • Being told my lessons were “tuany” and “barbaro” by the students!

  • Celebratory batidos (smoothies)

  • Eating DELICIOUS foods (even American food!)
Celebration dinner with our counterparts.
Celebratory pizza dinner with our counterparts
  • Epic thunderstorms & torrential downpours, which made for wonderfully cool (82 degrees) evenings

  • Naps in the hostel hammock

  • Studying in the hostel hammock

  • Reflecting in the hostel hammock

  • Delicious, made-to-order breakfasts in the hostel

  • Going to the beach!

We all enjoyed the opportunity to "get our feet wet" during practicum week.
We all enjoyed the opportunity to “get our feet wet” during practicum week
  • Spanish conversations with strangers

  • Building deeper relationships with my fellow trainees, current volunteers in Leon, and my boss

    Norwegian books in Nica...Who knew?!?
    Norwegian books in Nica…Who knew?!?
  • Discovering that there were about 25 books in the library written in Norwegian (?!?)

  • Snuggling with the wifey each night

The Bad

  • Having to scrap all of my plans as my counterpart couldn’t teach because he had to take care of his sick daughter (see “Learning I can improvise” above)

  • Having a cold the first three days

  • Losing my phone

  • Speaking almost entirely in English (where 2 or more gringos are gathered, will power to practice Spanish is NOT there)

The Take-Aways

  • Flexibility is key. While I was able to co-plan on Sunday evening for one of the three lessons I was going to co-teach, I had to be flexible to change plans when my teacher had to cancel on Monday, and call in a substitute on Tuesday.

  • A little bit of preparation, and one solid activity, can go a long way. Fortunately I knew that we were going to review cardinal numbers with two 90-minute 7th grade classes on Tuesday, so I prepped an activity entitled “Call Me”. I gave each of the students an eight-digit phone number, and they had to listen for when I “called’” their number, and then repeat back to me the number. The sub ended up having nothing prepped for the 90-minute class, so I milked this activity for all it was worth! We did single numbers, than practiced reading out the numbers in double digits, and then we gave them a second number. It ended up working pretty well!

  • Debriefing & reflecting is invaluable. After our first 7th grade class we had a conversation about what they learned, what they liked, and what they still needed to work on. They shared that they really struggled with double-digit numbers (which was true). The substitute and I reflected on this as we walked over to the next 7th grade class, and we came up with a new practice activity that we successfully implemented in the next class.

  • I could definitely get into this teaching thing. I felt full of pride, excitement, and good energy on my walk home from school. I am pumped to work in my future site, especially with having Emily in my corner to help me through the growing pains of being a new teacher!

We are now officially halfway done with our Pre-Service Training…crazy! It has been a wonderful experience, but I am definitely ready to find out about our future site on October 15th. I love being able to have Spanish class daily and learning how to be an effective TEFL volunteer, but I am so looking forward to being with Emily in our site where we can have a lot more autonomy over our schedule, and really start digging into the work ahead of us and getting to know our community!


9 thoughts on “Practicum Week”

  1. Loved reading your update. Sounds like the hammock was the winner! Nice! All those Norsk books in Leon were fun to see. It was fun to Skype with you for a few minutes today. Can’t wait to hear where you’ll be for the next 2 years. xo

  2. Andrew,

    Thanks for the updates on your adventure. Glad to hear all is going well with lots to learn. Stan

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Thank you Stan! I’m so grateful you took the time to drop by and leave us a comment. It makes home feel just a little bit closer 🙂

      On Sun, Oct 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM, May We Suggest wrote:


  3. Teaching is so rad! I remember having the same feelings after chemistry tutor sessions. It’s like we come from a huge family of teachers or something. ….

    Good take aways and proportion of good to bad.

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