Indiana came from UNAN-Leon this morning to take us to the schools for our first visits and observations. As things go here, they don't go as planned! When she arrived, she explained that the schools were getting out at noon so we could visit both schools in the morning. I think this worked well for Julie as we were able to visit her favorite, the Deaf school in the afternoon.
The first school we visited was the Special School, Centro De Especial-Leon where we met up with Ulises so he could translate. We had planned to have two of us in each room to observe to establish interrater reliability. However, after a long wait and Indiana talking to the school administrator, we were allowed to go in to the classrooms, but needed to go alone and without a translator. Once, we saw the size of the classrooms, we understood why we needed to go into the classrooms alone as the rooms were very small- approximately 15 feet x 20 feet with a range 5-6 students with a teacher and an assistant.
We all had very different experiences in the four classrooms that we were in with children with varying abilities. The students were also fascinated by the visitors to their classrooms.
During the 30 minute morning snack and recess, we were able to meet many students. Mitzi and Kris were guided in imitation by a very enthusiastic student who gave physical prompts when we needed to adjust our responses. We also watched several boys signing to teach another student how to be the goalie for a soccer game. During the break, students had rice, tortillas and juice.
After recess, we all had the opportunity to visit one more classroom each at the Special School and then on to the next school, Coleciao Madre Maria Luisa in Leon. We were greeted warmly at this private school and were able to visit both primary and secondary classrooms. The busy classrooms had 15-20 students with both general education and students in special education.
We enjoyed an hour in the classrooms before school was dismissing for the day at noon. Our morning consisted of two eventful visits to schools which were not air conditioned and most of the time without fans. The heat isn't something that you can prepare for and describing the heat won't do it justice!
The afternoon school visit was to the Deaf School project-- which was part of Julie's first trip this summer and an earlier blog. This time was fantastic to see the students again and to have them asking if I was going to be teaching them & doing activities with them. They asked about Jonathan & Maia too. Each of the teachers was trying at least one activity we had demonstrated in June which made me very, very happy. The students also tried spelling my name-- which is significant because they all know my name sign but in June we really emphasized the need to know how to spell people's complete names. :-) There wasn't much of a breeze but seeing the students again was very invigorating for me!
We are one step closer to getting Beth, Mitzi & Kris to ride Nicaraguan public transportation: we got a cab driver who said he could take four people, no problem. The four of us were squished in the back seat. It's all part of the experience!