I started teaching at a very young age. I hadn’t even finished high school when I volunteered to be a tutor for two girls in the Mapasingue neighbourhood of Ecuador, one of the largest slums that surround the north of the city and set on its hills. Every Friday after school, I went up the hills with my friends from high school to teach boys, girls and even adults in their homes.
I worked in Mapasingue for two years, first as an English tutor and later on as a teacher for the adult learning centre that my high school had built. Back then, I had no idea that I was going to become a school teacher but I did know that I wanted to work in education somehow. At school, we thought about the power of education to change lives and to change the future of a country.
I now teach Spanish language and literature at a private international school in Guayaquil, a large commercial port city on the Pacific coast of the country.
Classes at my school start just after 7am, so I get up before sunrise. While I check my emails and plan my day, I take time to have breakfast – always with a big cup of coffee.
Around 6:40am, I walk to the bus station. Almost nothing has changed since I used to walk through that same path to take the school bus as a kid. One or two-storey middle class art-deco houses with mango, guayacan and palm trees look like a vintage photo of the neighbourhood.
Our school is located in an industrial area. But once inside, the factories and traffic seem far away. We are privileged to study and teach in a natural environment surrounded by trees, flowers, birds and animals. Iguanas are very common at our school; every day, dozens of them sunbathe in the yard, climb the trees and sometimes walk inside our classrooms. We have named one Marta; it is now a class pet to the eighth graders.
Twice a month, on Mondays, the whole school gathers during the first period for what we call “civic moment”. Civic moments always start with singing the Ecuadorian anthem, creating a very solemn and patriotic atmosphere. Civic moments are a space for discussing national and global issues and recently students and teachers have shared their thoughts on topics like the earthquake that shook our country in April, the Orlando massacre, and the refugee crisis in Europe.
Depending on the day, my schedule can change from three to seven classes. I like my classes to begin with a provocative text. It could be a poem, an image, a song, a video or a work of art, but I always try to make it open to different interpretations and stimulate discussion and analysis.
During my free periods, I often meet with other teachers to share experiences, class methodologies and projects. One of my colleagues, Clara, has been a literature teacher for over three decades. Young teachers like me are lucky to receive her experience and, at the same time, work with new, innovative methods in the classroom.
But for recess and lunch, I like to stay in my classroom because some of my students come to hang out. This gives me a chance to spend time with them in a relaxed environment.
My days are always very busy, but I enjoy it. Not for a second is there a chance to get bored or stay still. It is a joy to teach such interesting and critical young people.
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