Last school year I co-facilitated Pasos Adelante, a sex education course, with five sections of tutoria (think ethics class) in the colegio (high school). I actually began with just one section, but as word got out, more teachers asked for my help and before I knew it I was regularly helping out with five sections. I tried to make the classes as interesting and interactive as possible through the use of technology, storytelling, “ice breakers”, and other engaging activities. I wasn’t entirely sure of the impact my presence was having, but I had received a lot of positive feedback from both teachers and students.
There is a common teaching style at the high school in my community that includes a lot of “teacher talk” in which the teacher stands (or sits) at the front of the class and talks at the students the entire class and there isn’t much room for the students to talk or share their opinion. The classes are often improvised and there is no lesson plan. This is something I tried to change through modeling in which I limit the direct didactic instruction time and give more time for students to participate in discussions and activities.
I was recently invited to a planning meeting with all of the tutoria teachers, in which the tutoria coordinator (also a psychologist), referred to me as a genia (genius) and an experta (expert) in the subject matter, and advised all of the teachers to seek my help should they have any questions or need assistance with their classes. I have found that often times in meetings at the colegio, much like the classes with students, one person will lead the meeting and everyone else will pretty much just listen to, or argue with, the facilitator. There is not much cooperative give and take. This time, however, was different. The Coodinadora (coordinator) really involved me and asked my opinion on various topics. She yielded to me so I could share my expertise and I ended up facilitating the meeting with her.
The other morning morning, while I was at the colegio, a tutoria teacher I worked with last year came up to me and shared her lesson plan with me. Surprisingly, the format was very similar to the classes I had helped with last year. It was complete icebreakers and engaging activities such as role-play. She told me that she had been incorporating techniques she saw me use previously into her classes. “I learned from you Sarita”, she said. I was touched. After many months of hard work, I was finally starting to see lasting impacts and results.