Friday, January 26, 2007

Bet it´s never happened to you ...

Some interesting things that have happened over the past couple of weeks that might make you laugh. (And one or two that might horrify you.)

1. Yesterday, on my way to the gym, a horse blocked my way on the sidewalk. I had to walk in the street to get around it. It was tied up in an empty lot. By whom? I have no idea. Keep in mind that this was only a couple of houses down from the gym, and the gym is in one of the nicer neighborhoods here in Ceiba.

2. At the end of last week, near the end of the day, the secretary frantically ran into my classroom and told me to lock the children in, because there was a sheep on the loose. Now, our school is surrounded by a big cement wall with gates and everything, but just in case it knocked the gate down or jumped the wall, we would be prepared with rulers and scissors.

3. On the bus, on the way home from Tela, some old guy told me that it would be better if I was ¨acompañada¨ by him (like if he was my boyfriend or something). Then, we could have sex. (No joke.)

4. I have been in charge of two classrooms because of the chicken pox outbreak at my school (and in the city in general I think). Mr. Anthony left before Christmas, Miss Fermina who was teaching some of his classes left for LA for 3 weeks and the teacher they hired to replace her? She has chicken pox. I´m told that someone will be coming on Monday. Since Wednesday, I have been in charge and the principal and rector have been covering some classes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


So I did go to Tela this weekend, and I also forgot to take my camera. Oh well, I'll be back. I wasn't going to go since Saturday morning I woke up and it was cloudy here in Ceiba. I made some pancakes and watched some Gilmore Girls and then finally around 11am the clouds starting breaking. So, I packed my stuff up really quick, took my dirty laundry to the Lavanderia and caught a taxi over to the bus terminal. I got a non stop bus to Tela which took about an hour and 45 minutes, and was in a nice Greyhound type bus. It cost L60, about $3.

I got there around 1:30PM and walked around lost for awhile before I broke out my travel guide and found a place to stay. I stayed at a little place called the Mini Hotel Posada del Sol. It was a cute little cabina type place ran by a lady named Doña Berta. It cost L160, about $8. I think that it would have been the same price if there would have been 2 people and not just one. It was a cute little place with an outdoor covered patio with a TV and about 8 rooms. The bed was comfortable and the pillows were amazing.

That afternoon, I went to the beach for a couple of hours. I came back and ended up watching King Kong with someone who was watching it on TV. Then, I went to eat dinner at Pizzeria Bambino that I heard was good. It was really tasty! The small pizza cost me L66, and it was more than enough food for me. The word on the menu that they used for mushrooms was not "hongos" though, and that threw me off. Then, I went back, watched about half of The Matrix 2 with someone else and went to bed early.The next morning, I got up around 9:30 and had breakfast at Merendero Frank. It cost L55 including fresh squeezed orange juice. It's interesting here, because in Costa Rica all the little restaurants are called sodas. Here, they are called cosetas, comedores, or merenderos.

Anyway, then I went to a different beach, a little walk across the bridge in "New Tela," which was apparently built for the US people that ran the United Fruit Company (now called Dole). Nice, right. Well, there's a resort over there and the beach in front of it is better than the beach in town. I burnt my upperback to a crisp, of course. More because of the walk over where I wasn't wearing sun screen on my back. Oh well, the rest of me is fine, and my back is feeling much better today.I was at the beach for about 2 hours and then went back to get my back from Doña Berta, which she so nicely kept for me. I caught a 2:00 chicken bus back to Ceiba. It was an old school bus, and stopped a million times. I got back to Ceiba around 2:20 or so. It took longer, but cost less in comparison, only L30.That was my trip. It was a nice, relaxing time.

Next time I go, I'll take pictures!

Tutoria and Grades

I'm back to tutoring. This time, less because I really want to, and more because I really have to. A lot of parents have asked though, and I am going to have to tell a few of the parents who have really smart 2nd graders, that I just don't have the time to tutor the ones that are behind and the ones that are ahead. So, I'm focusing my time and energy on the ones that are atrasados. I sent home 10 notes today with various 2nd graders, mostly the newest ones, to tell their parents that tutoring would start on Wednesday, and I think their child should attend. It's going to be Monday and Wednesday until 3:30, and then I will probably be staying until 4:00 with a little girl who is in 2nd grade but knows NO English. Guess what we're going to start with? That's right kids, the alphabet. Is Elisa going to pass 2nd grade? Depends on how quick she is. All I have to say is that some of my 1st graders know English better than some of these new 2nd graders. "But she came from a bilingual school," one parent said of her daughter, Kissy. Honestly, I don't give a rats ass where she came from, her English is not up to par. But I don't mind. Just think, at L 30 a session, 2 sessions a week, if all 10 kids come - I'll be loaded! Haha. Not that I'm tutoring for the money. If I was in any of this for the money, I wouldn't be in Honduras. As La Gringa said, "You took a 90% pay cut to come teach at that school." I'm not sure if it was quite 90%, but you get the picture.

So, I started on Wednesday, and I have about 8 kids coming. So far, so good. Yesterday we reviewed for the spelling quiz they had today and the grammar quiz they have tomorrow. Last week we worked on the alphabet and basic sounds and phonics stuff. It's hard to learn to read, etc when you don't know the basics. The parents have been paying me too, which is good. I turned in grades today for 2nd grade. I have 3 kids failing. All 3 kids are failing all 3 classes I gave grades in. 9 kids didn't get grades since they started so late. It's too bad though, really. 2 that are failing are almost passing, and the other one is just hopeless. I feel bad saying this, but his parents are kind of wasting their money since their son just doesn't do anything in school. He's really behind, but it's because he doesn't pay attention and do his work. But ah well. My 1st graders don't get grades this first quarter, just report type things like from kindergarten. I have to fill them out tomorrow.


I made a pretty big deal of not wanting to join the gym here in Ceiba. When I was home for Christmas, I tracked down my old tae bo and pilates DVD's, and bought an exercise ball, and a resistance band. I have used the ball and band some, but I have decided that I actually am going to join the gym after all.
It all started from an ad that showed the one gym has dance classes. If you aren't a member of the gym, the classes are about $17/month. If you were a member of the gym, the classes are only $7. Well, I went over to the gym to check it out. I looked at the price packages ($30 sign up fee, $25 a month plus the $7 dance class fee), and took a tour of the gym. I asked about the dance classes, saw the pool, etc. It's actually a really nice gym, and only about 6 or 7 blocks away from where I live. I figured that dance classes would give me something else to do. They are one hour a night from Monday to Friday. While I wouldn't go every night, it's nice to have the options of when I do want to go. In the end, I figured that the gym would also give me something to do, and maybe I would even be able to meet some people there. If nothing else, at least I will have something to keep me busy. It's really nice weather now, and I am walking a good bit, but when it gets really hot - I'm not going to want to move. Even now, I don't really want to go run outside, and I haven't yet as a result. I like the gym, and I miss belonging to one. There are also aerobics classes and a spinning class at Nautilus too. So yeah, this week I'm going to go join.

The Token White Girl

As the Token White Girl in my school, I was made an example of during assembly this morning. As you should know, January 15th is the day that the United States celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. Well, Veronica was explaining about what MLK did in the US and how he spurred a lot of change that happened some 50 years ago. You all know the story, but these kids don't. She apologized as she brought me up front saying, "I'm sorry, but I need them to understand that they are not white. You are white. Growing up here is different, because there is less diversity. They think they're white." Of course, it doesn't matter if these kids are white, brown or purple, but for the sake of the explanation, they did need to understand that they too would have been sitting in the back of the bus and going to separate restaurants and movie theaters. As I was standing up there in front of the school, I realized that I really was the only "white girl" in the school. All of the students are Honduran, at least as far as I know. All of the teachers, except me (now that Mr. Anthony left) are Honduran too. Well, Chanel is from the US, but both of her parents are from the Bay Islands (so they're lighter skinned, but still Honduran), and she looks, well, like she is too.
Therefore, I, single-handedly, represent the US. It is assumed that I have a lot of money. It is assumed that my family can afford to fly me back and forth to the States. It is assumed that will want to buy the expensive jewelry the girl who stops in after school is selling. A lot of things are assumed.
But not by everyone. I think I probably make it sound like all of the teachers are mean to me. Let me get this straight. None of them are mean to me. However, that does not mean that they all like me. And honestly, the couple of teachers that I think don't like me - well, it doesn't really have anything to do with me. It has everything to do with the fact that I represent the US. I represent change. And I represent them losing their jobs. I did not take their job, and I might be gone by the time they lose it, but in their minds - I represent the change that will eventually cost them their teaching positions in this school. (Because they don't speak English).
I am actually quite friendly with most of the Honduran teachers at the school. I thought that the Estudios Sociales teacher and I would end up being friends, but with all the rumors that were flying through the school last month and all the warnings from other teachers, and the principal, and Veronica not to get too friendly and comfortable with them (because I'll tell them things that they will use against me later) - well, I decided to not pursue any of that, and she hasn't been too forthcoming since either. But yeah, I'm the Token White Girl. Never thought that would happen.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Mini update.

I got a TV! It´s tiny, maybe 11 inches, but I got to watch Grey´s Anatomy on Thursday and it made my whole crappy week 1000% better! Yay! I´m glad that I´m excited about such little things.

Went to the beach, to Tela. Didnt take my camera. I will post more about my trip tomorrow. A flood of entries will come tomorrow when I finally take my laptop to the bar that has wireless internet.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

La Playa

I'm going to go the beach this weekend as long as the weather holds out, which it should. I think I'm going to go to Tela on Saturday and stay the night. It should be a nice time to veg on the beach and relax. I've heard some not so safe things about Tela, but most of them center around stupid tourists who walk on the beach at night. Don't worry dad, I'm not a stupid tourist. That said, I also will not be frequenting the disco alone either, because, as I said - I'm not stupid. I think it will be a nice little vacation though. I came to Honduras alone, lets see if I can go to the beach alone. (I need to start practicing traveling alone since I plan on spending a couple of weeks in Guatemala over the summer, and I would like to go back to Costa Rica in the summer too, which may be with someone else, but probably not). This will also be a new experience since I have never ridden a bus in Honduras. I don't expect it to be all that different from riding a bus in Costa Rica, except well, more crowded and rugged and yellow. (They use old yellow school buses here.) I will say though that the buses in La Ceiba are a little scary, so hopefully the one to Tela is less so. Let's just take baby steps.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

12 hour day

I thought I should throw an update on here for those who actually read it, since it´s been a week. I have several entries on my computer to put up, but that won´t happen until Friday probably, since I have to go to the bar where I use the free wireless internet.

Anyway, I worked for 12 hours today. No joke. I got there at 630AM, had tutoring until 4PM, and there was a parents meeting at 5PM, so I just stayed (I mean, I only live 4 blocks away, but why bother going home?) The kiddies have been alright this week. Fernando, in 1st grade, hasn´t been crying nearly as much, and the 2nd graders, well they still talk too much. I got a new girl today, Daphney, and I think I´m getting another one tomorrow. We´re pushing 30 here folks. There is no more room in the classroom. Time to cut them off. NO MORE STUDENTS! The thing is, I think that almost ALL of the new students who have entered in the past 2 weeks have been 2nd graders. I mean, seriously?

I´m in Grey´s Anatomy withdrawl. If I don´t get a TV with cable soon that has ABC, I´m going to have to be a dork that goes to Expats and watches it on her laptop. I guess I can always go at like 4PM. Not likely to be many people around then.

I joined the gym, Nautilus. I made such a big deal about not joining it, but in the end ... I think it´ll be good. I joined yesterday, and am not going to today since it´s already almost 7. Tomorrow I¨ll go though. I´m good at going to gyms when I belong to them. There are also all of these little trainer guys running around to help anyone! They start your cardio machines for you even. That´s kind of strange, yeah. I´ve been a little lonely lately, but I do have lunch plans for after school on Friday with a girl who I´ve gone out with once before who works at Expatriates, the place I go for free internet. Hopefully that´ll be fun. I really don´t know anything about her, but we shall see how that goes.

I think I´m going to go to Tela this weekend. It´s a pretty beach (or so I´ve heard) about 2 hours north of La Ceiba. I think I´ll spend the night on Saturday. I´ll post pictures and such.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


So, I don't write much about my personal life on my blog. If you aren't interested, it may be better to just pass over this entry. I won't give TMI or anything, but just a disclaimer that this has nothing to do with teaching.

Background info: I studied abroad in Costa Rica for 4 months. While there, I started to date a Costa Rican guy, and we were together for a year and 3 months. I was completely in love with him, but we ended up breaking up for the circumstances. (He was in CR, I was in the US.) I called him on his birthday in July, but he never called back. I hadn't talked to him since May when he called me 2 days before I moved to Honduras in November. I talked to him for awhile, and he told me that when I got to Honduras to call him and give him my cell phone number. He also said that I should visit, and maybe he would even be able to save up money, get a passport, and come to Honduras to visit me. *ahem*

So, I went home for Christmas and hadn't called him back. I struggled with idea, and got conflicting advice from those who I asked. Saturday, two hours before I left for the airport to come back to the US, I called him. He actually answered (which is not entirely common), and we talked a bit. He was out with his friends, but he said he was glad to hear from me. He apparently thought that I was mad at him or that something was wrong because I hadn't called. I gave him my number, and I don't really plan on calling him again unless he calls me first. I don't think I love him anymore, but if I were to see him that might change. He said that I should go visit, if only for a weekend. It's probably a good thing that plane tickets to CR from Honduras are so damn expensive right now. That's the only way I could go for a weekend. Otherwise, a bus trip will take a little more planning.

Oh geez.

I like to crayolaing.

Katherine is one of my first graders. She lived in New Orleans and went to kindergarten there. I´m not sure how long she lived there, but her English is good; she can read and write in English. I'm teaching phonics, but I'm really into the idea of whole reading and writing too.

Let me briefly explain, there are two different ways to teach kids how to read. The first is phonics, most likely the way most of you were taught how to read. You teach the sounds of the individual letters and pairs of letters and teach the kids how to put those sounds together to form words. Then there is the whole reading approach. I'm not all that informed on this approach, but basically, you have them reading and writing before they can really read and write. You slowly teach them the different rules, and they pick up spelling and phonics rules by reading.

Anyway, I teach phonics, but like to incorporate some of this other idea into it. So, I was having the kids write sentences, even though only two of them can actually write a sentence. Well, Katherine can write sentences, and she wanted to help some of the girls while I was helping some of the boys. The next thing I know, she was up front with my little dry erase board writing some sentences on it and helping the others to write them too. It was the cutest thing, especially since Katherine doesn't always let on how well she speaks and understands English. The one sentence on the board was, "I like to crayolaing."

Star Cards

With some help from my dad, I am now using a new positive reinforcement technique in my classes. For 2nd grade, I have a "rule of the week;" this week is "Listen when someone is talking." It's going okay. When the kids get on my nerves the most (After lunch time they are the WORST! Luckily, I only have one class with them after lunch. Unfortunately, it's Phonics), I have them read the rule that is posted above the board about 4 times in a row. It gets on their nerves. Too bad.

So, I have these 2 posters in the second grade posted on the wall. Each student has an index card with their name on it, and underneath their name is M-T-W-Th-F. If they follow the rule of the week (which very well may be the rule next week to at the rate they're going), they get a star for that day. If they get 5 stickers for the week, they get a prize on Friday. I plan on buying candy. I have 26 second graders, but don't worry - I don't expect to give out more than 6 or 7 prizes in the 2nd grade. 1st grade is different, but there are only 11 of them. Yes folks, I'm up to 11. I got 2 new ones on Monday.

Speaking of new students, 3 new students arrived to 2nd grade on Monday and 2 more yesterday. Some of these students are coming from public schools (which sucks a big one since they know approx no English and really shouldn't be in the 2nd grade in a bilingual school). The public schools had vacation part of November and through December, and are just starting back sometime around now. I understand that some of them are in that situation, kids do need a break afterall. But, one of my 1st graders, Jose Luis (Pepito), went to kinder at Holy Trinity last year. His parents "didn't realize" that school started again in November, and just sent him back to school in January. WTF??? How on Earth do you "forget" when school starts? Please make my job harder than it already is.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

About 4 of my 2nd graders

Sometimes (okay, like every other day, really) I think that I am not cut out to do this, that I am not a good teacher, that the kids will never learn anything, and that they will run around uncontrollably all year long.

I have a couple of students in 2nd grade that are just complete handfuls. It takes every bit of patience I have everyday (and a lot of patience that I don't have sadly) to not get upset with them. I really need to focus on positive reinforcement. When the kids act up, they just want attention. Unfortunately, they want attention that I am just unable to give them. I have 22 kids in the 2nd grade, and I am not with them all day long. Classes are only 45 minutes long. I just do not have enough time to give individual attention to each student. Regardless of the fact that even if I do TRY to give each one individual attention, the rest of the class will act like the monkeys at the zoo.

In enters Julio.
Julio is one of the brightest kids in the 2nd grade. However, Julio is also failing. He doesn't do his classwork, doesn't copy things from the board, doesn't study, and doesn't listen in class. He sits at his own separate desk, yet is always fighting with the other kids and talking nonstop. He just wants attention. I try to call on him as much as I can, because he very often is very interested in participating. I try to give him incentives to copy the sentences or whatever from the board, try to punish him for fighting with the other students ... I've tried everything I could think of. Two days before school let out for Christmas break, I gave Julio a small stack of about 5 worksheets that he could do over the vacaciones to raise his grade. He returned them to me the next day, finished and 100% correct. His mom does not speak English. His dad does not live with them. He did these all himself. He told me, "I like doing homework."
So what is Miss Katrina going to do with Julio when she goes back next week? Give him lots of work to do.

Julio exits stage right. In enters Keny.
Keny started school a month late for reasons I am unsure of. Probably money. Keny is relatively quiet and doesn't always participate in the games we play without some good convincing by me and the other students. However, he absolultely loves me. Everyday his little face lights up and he says, "HI TEACHER!" He doesn't fight with the other kids. His enthusiasm is contagious, and he hugs me constantly. I usually just feel someone clinging to me and never know who it is until I look down. Oftentimes, it's Keny.

Keny exits stage left. In enters Leana and Orlin.
I've written about Leana before. She was not doing well at all at the beginning, was very behind, and didn't understand a word of English. Her father asked me to tutor her, and she's done a 180. Now, she is doing very well on her quizzes and understands a lot more. I do realize that this does come from the fact that she has a lot of support at home. Orlin is such a cute kid. He's pretty quiet and doesn't cause too much trouble. He is also coming to tutoring, and while his grades have improved some - the bigger thing I see with him is his desire to help the other kids. If someone doesn't understand something, and I'm busy with another student, Orlin will sometimes say, "Le ayudo? (I'll help him?)" It is the cutest thing ever.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Healthy! NYR #1

NYR= New Years Resolution.
I usually don't make them, but I'm going to make this year an exception. This is especially good timing since I will be gone from the States for a year and really want to use this time to form healthier habits.

1. More water, less coke.
2. More vegetables.
3. More protein.
4. Eat a healthy breakfast (with protein) and not the fried pasteles that the Hondurans eat.
5. The purpose of food is to make me not hungry and give me energy. Don't stress over each meal. Try to be HEALTHY. This works for me. I get too obsessed with things otherwise and have an extremely unhealthy attitude toward food.
6. Therefore, everything in moderation.

1. Run/Walk at least 3 times a week, working up to 5, for 20-40 minutes.
2. Do strength training activities (with my exercise ball and/or band to start out with) at least 2 times a week, for 20 minutes, working up to 3 times a week.

For me, the exercise thing will be easier, because I've done all of this before. I just have gotten out of the habit of exercising. However, I seriously need it to battle the stress from the screaming 5-7 year olds I teach all day. I have a weird relationship with food which is much healthier than it used to be, so I'm thinking that the switch to really try and be healthier in what I eat won't be too hard. My one main weakness is french fries. Luckily, I am faced with them much less in Honduras. While they are very readily available, my daily life doesn't bring me in contact with them as much. Given that and the fact that the money I do make, I'd rather spend on things other than french fries.

My main focus: I'm not doing this to lose weight, I'm doing this for my health. My father has heart disease, and my cholesterol was higher than it should be at last check. My grandmother and uncle both had/have diabetes. While losing weight will be a nice side effect, it is in no way my main goal.

PS. Someone (in Honduras of course, Americans aren't this candid) told me that I was "unfit but beautiful." This is supposed to be a compliment right? Is that like saying someone saying, "you're a little fat, but attractive." ???

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

10 great things about my school

I feel like all I do on my blog is complain about my kids. So, I’m going to dedicate this article to all the things about the school and my students that I love.

1. While I am given some guidance and a basic English cirriculum (a 1st grade US reading program called Reading Street), I am also given a good deal of freedom in my daily lesson plans. I have no one looking over my shoulder wanting to see my plans everyday. They trust me to educate the children.

2. There was a bit of an issue with accusations that some of the teachers were being a bit too physical with the students earlier in the year. While this was addressed to all of the teachers, Veronica and the principal also took it with a grain of salt, and things have been all quiet since.

3. My kids love me. Everyday, the 1st graders greet me with hugs. The 2nd graders love to hug too, even the boys.

4. They also love English, especially the 2nd graders.

5. The 2nd graders can read in English!! Two of the 1st graders can too! (Actually, they probably read in English better than Spanish, but that is a whole different kettle of fish.)

6. The 1st graders know their alphabet! And the sounds of the letters! (Well, all but one).

7. The school is extremely welcoming to new ideas and new ways of teaching the kids. They are also very accommodating. For example, giving me 2 days off of school this week so that I could spend a few more days at home with my family.

8. While teaching is very challenging, it is also very good experience for me. It is also a relatively low stress environment to have my first year of teaching, in comparison to the US schools with the standardized testing and the like.

9. The kids are talkative! They love to talk! So, there is a never ending supply of energy in my classroom.

10. They want to be tutored. Can you believe it? They are begging me to have after school tutoring sessions, even the really smart ones.

There ya go. That’s ten great things about my students and the school.