On Friday, Miriam from the 3rd grade hugged me with her little arms and told me: “Te quiero mucho mucho! Te quiero como a mi mamá!” (I love you so much, I love you as much as my mum!). It was the most beautiful moment of my day.
But it’s not how my day usually starts.
– “Profesora, Carlos and Juan are fighting!”
– “Señorita, she took my notebook!”
– “Anita, he doesn’t want to give me back my pencil!”
These are the words I am welcomed with in the classroom. From the moment I enter there are problems to solve: Daniel is running around the tables, Ever is throwing the chairs, Maria and Rosa are fighting about a pencil. Explanations and talking often bring nothing, shouting more, but not for long. I am new and first I need to earn the respect as a teacher. The profesores have it easier, kids love them and usually listen to them. In peruvian primary schools teachers are not specialized but accompany their pupils throughout all the years, so they know pretty well how to deal with them. But even with the profesores, the noise level never falls down to zero. The simple fact is: these kids cannot sit still and quiet.
Since a couple of weeks, every day I enter a different classroom to assist/substitute the teacher. There are 5 grades at school and 5 days of the week – fits perfectly. Although I was hoping to do science and experiments with the kids, it turned out they what they need more are math classes. It is actually really basic math, I don’t get far beyond elementar arithmetics and basic geometry. The only difficulty is to make it fun and interesting.
My daily schedule looks more or less as follows:
8:15 am – the classes start. I usually teach for around 2 hours, in this time all the possible emotions go through my head: from excitement and pride to anger and resignation.
10:10 am – recreo – break. All the kids (including me) drink their milk and eat their breakfast (which is usually just a piece of bread) and go outside to play (read: run like crazy, fight and scream).
10:50 am – the class starts again, now usually the teacher takes over.
1:00 pm – lunch time! I transform into a food-server and try to convince the kids that vegetables are healthy and tasty and should not be thrown away.
1:40 pm – I can finally eat myself!
2:00 pm – I start the class for the kids who have problems with math. This time they are just few and usually behave better (but not always).
3:00 – 3:30 pm Ufffffffff, I can go home!
And then a ‘miracle’ happens, a little childish voice says: “But you are coming back tomorrow, right? Please come back again to my classroom!”. At that moment, a big smile comes back to my face and my tiredness just vanishes.