The last few weeks were pretty difficult but at least they went by fast. After the English Teacher’s Conference in Tegu., I came down with Bronchitis. I put off going to the Dr. and kept working until I just had to go. The school principal took me to a dr. he knows (discount) and he paid for the visit and helped me pay for the medicine. Two weeks later and I’m feeling much better.
The last two weeks of school were seemingly the busiest of the whole year. There were “end of the period”, “end of the year” evaluations, cleaning up, activities, projects, and the last day party, which was unfortunately not much since I wasn’t feeling well, and almost half of the class didn’t come.
After the last day for students, the teachers had a week of paperwork, and this part, if you ask any teacher here, is the most ridiculous aspect of teaching in Honduras. It was the most difficult week for me by far, and the kids weren’t even there! We have to finish the grades and then transfer them perfectly, and I mean PERFECTLY, to three different papers. One for the school, one for the parents, and one for the government. The students who fail must take their recuperation tests this same week, but before they take the test, we have to tutor them a few hours. If they don’t pass the test, they have another chance in August when they return. If they didn’t pass the whole year, they also take that test in august, but we have to write a study guide for them to study this summer, along with the test and answer key to leave at school in case for some reason the teacher isn’t able to give it in august. The grading scale is such that those with excellence are graded more severely and those who “don’t do anything” are given chance after chance after…well, until they pass. Even if a student fails, he’ll most likely go on to the next grade, but at the same time take his class from the previous year to make it up. Basically it boils down to a ton of work for the teacher, which never seems to be worth anything, so much so that many teachers pass their kids on to avoid the hassle.
The primary teachers have a lot more paperwork than do the secondary teachers, so the secondarys are paired/grouped with a primary. At one point I had three other teachers helping me to copy over in ink what I’d written in pencil on the certificate, then the pencil is erased. The ironic thing is that the ink shows through to the other side and looks really tacky, something you’d think the government would somehow refuse. The other irony is that while so many students are failing, all the papers must be “pretty” or done again and again until “very beautiful.” It doesn’t seem to matter that half of secondary is failing one class or another, but that things look nice. At one point, a colleague of mine was so nervous, she forgot how to make an 8. “Do I start at the bottom? Do I start at the top? Do I go counterclockwise or clockwise?” She had her team stop and they all practiced their 8’s for about 5 minutes.
It takes 3 days to finish the paperwork and you don’t want to have to do it again. But this year the administration in the office had to redo most of the teachers’ papers because they weren’t up to standard. So we wonder why they don’t just do them all in the first place since they know how they (the government) want them done?
What happened with me is that I had all the reports done, “perfectly” except for one thing. Early in the year I was given my grading papers. One for Composition, for Reading, for Spelling, and for Grammar, and finally titled “English” to give the average of all the classes. I’d done this all year. On the final report there was a space for Composition but not for English. On the report for the parents there was a space for English but not composition. So I put the grade from the Composition paper on the composition line on the first report, and the English average on the parent’s paper where it said “English”. The bad thing is that 2 years ago the school stopped giving the English averages, but the secretary “forgot” and gave it to me anyway, so I’d been doing this extra work all year. Not a lot of work. No big deal. But now all the reports had to be done again correctly. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to do them, the secretary did, but I felt bad. She’s really sweet and I’ve never known here to do something absent minded like this, but she got them all done a second time in half the time as me.
Things are going very well spiritually, as I’m still taking the discipleship class. I’ve had more time to read and currently am reading “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Phillip Yancey. I read last night about how important it is to study Jewish culture of that day to learn more about the life of Jesus. This morning my Bible study was all about Jesus as a baby and looking back in the Old Testament about the Jewish customs Jewish parents followed. It was fascinating. I love how God speaks to us by showing us the same theme in different ways around the same time.
Happy Summer Vacations!