I taught a summer English class. We met 3 days a week for 2 hours. I didn’t realize until the end that I should have been impressed with my students for just coming—6 hours of language class a week isn’t pocket change—but I didn’t need that realization to think they are hard-working and awesome…because they are.
My original syllabus was way too ambitious. But, when all was said and done we covered the basics: possessive, present, past, articles, and a few other things. Some of my students improved over the course of the class. Others still asked me on the last day what “I am” meant, I mean we only talked about “to be” in the present tense every day of class.
There are a lot of ways to measure success. I could talk about my students’ ability to complete homework, about their markedly better scores on exam two compared to exam one. Yes, I guess I could talk about language capacity, but in my eyes that all is icing on the cake.
The real success came when 12 out of 17 of my students, plus some parents, showed up for the end of class party in the pouring rain. They came and they brought food, a full banquet was added to the chocolate and banana cake I’d made with two of my students the previous day—empanadas, sopa paraguaya, sandwiches…and more.
The smashing part of the success was the enthusiastic attendance in the pouring cats and dogs rain. Just in case you’re not aware, basically nothing happens in Paraguay when it rains. Rain is a classic excuse for staying in your house and sleeping all day.
I handed out certificates and exams. I had a productive conversation with students and parents about how they want to continue English once school starts. I gave a little speech, nothing fancy. Then, we feasted and chatted. It was fabulous. I say that myself because I wasn’t the one who made it a joy, it was the students and parents who honored me with their slightly damp presence. What a nice close to one year of working in Paraguay.