You will never disappoint me

I haven’t written a blog in a while because I’ve been so immersed in my English class. Elementary 3 is now complete! And at the end of it, I had a touching holy encounter with a student that I’d like to share with you.

“Juanita” is a 17-year-old girl who dreams of one day studying in the US or the UK—and maybe also becoming a fashion model, since she’s already working as a professional runway model in Guayaquil. She’s a real delight to have in the class: friendly, intelligent, funny, and full of life. She’s a good student, and is an especially gifted writer.


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On to Elementary 3

I haven’t posted a blog in a while because I’ve been so busy teaching my  online Elementary 2 English class to my students in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Turns out that putting together ESL lessons for presentation online is pretty time consuming.  The class has been a lot of fun, though, and I’m happy to report that Elementary 2 is now complete. Elementary 3, with mostly the same students, will begin on Tuesday. I think I’ll be with these guys and gals until they graduate from Cambridge. 🙂

Guayaquil, Ecuador, where my students live. Hope I’ll be able to visit them someday!

I’ve kept busy with other things as well. I’m still helping Patricia with her work on immigration issues. Just this past week, I helped her put together a letter for a woman who is seeking a Fulbright grant. The grant is for an exciting film project that involves making creative documentaries about the migrant and refugee experience in Mexico. Hope she gets it!

Oh, and today I cast my vote in the 2020 US election. Arizona has a system where people living abroad can vote with absentee ballots by e-mail. Feels good to get that done. However your state does things, make sure and vote as soon as you can!

Elementary 1 is done; Elementary 2 begins Thursday

Tonight was the last night of my Elementary 1 English class. It was a great class. Patricia gave a talk about her journey from a Mexican high school girl in a beginning English class to a woman who turned down Oxford and got a Ph.D at Northwestern. An inspirational talk for young people making the same journey. After that, I talked to my students individually to give them progress reports—all excellent, I’m happy to say.

Onward we go—and very quickly. All of my current students plus two new ones will be on hand for Elementary 2. It begins Thursday. Well, at least I get one night off. 🙂 We’re all looking forward to continuing the journey!

“I love the chicken brothers”: Connecting in English class

All is going very well with my new online English class. I’m teaching four delightful young people (ages 16-21) who all live in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Two are in high school and two are in college (studying law and industrial engineering). In other words, they are all very sharp, and are learning  quickly—the kind of group any teacher enjoys. 🙂

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My first ESL teaching job: Guayaquil, Ecuador (online)

Good news, everyone! I just landed my first ESL teaching job. I’ll be teaching online from my home in Mexico for International House in Guayaquil, Ecuador. (International House is the same organization that trained me.)

My first class will be an four-week Elementary class for about five young adults, Tuesday through Friday for two hours a day, starting July 21. There’s a good chance that it will go beyond the four weeks if everyone is happy with the class, but with all the COVID-19 stuff we’re not planning too far ahead.

Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to it! Of course I’m a little nervous too, but the director of the school assures me I have nothing to worry about. I’ve been well trained, and my tutor in Mexico gave me a glowing recommendation. Plus, the director says, if I truly connect with the students, everything else will take care of itself. In our last meeting, he shared some words of wisdom from a colleague of his: “You can train a nice person to be a good teacher, but you can’t train a mean person to not be an asshole.” I think I qualify. 🙂

My final night in the neighborhood

Done! With a big assist from my hero Fred Rogers (the subject of my listening lesson tonight), I finished my ESL teacher training with flying colors. All that’s left is a Saturday morning meeting on employment opportunities followed by an online fiesta.

As Fred Rogers said via video to my students tonight, “The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.” That’s what I want to remember going forward, whatever ESL employment I end up pursuing. I look forward to many more opportunities to give and receive love as my journey continues. But for now…time to rest! 😴

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

I’m halfway there, livin’ on a prayer

I have officially reached the halfway point in my ESL teaching course. I’ve completed two of my four required written assignments and four of my eight required teaching sessions. I’m happy to report that I’m doing better in my teaching sessions every week. My tutor gave me “meets the standard” grades for my first two classes (a worthy grade that means I taught a good, solid class), but gave me “above the standard” grades for the last two. 🙂

A PowerPoint slide from my last class

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So far, so good…

Just a quick update to let everyone know that my ESL teaching class is going  well so far. It’s very time-intensive, so I’ve pretty much been living at my computer. I’ve passed my first two written assignments, as well as my first three teaching practices (where we teach an actual class). Our tutor said that my third teaching session was my best yet, so looks like I’m learning something. 🙂

One of the PowerPoint slides I used in my last teaching session

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