• Ann Shoen

The Daily Locura

Greetings Seedlings,

Life here at the CMT has simply flown by thus far. With classes beginning at either 7:00 or 8:30 AM and closing out around 8:00 or 9:00 PM, our time here is full day in and day out. While the days consistently have a “normal” schedule (day in the life blog post coming soon!!!) these first couple of months have proven that each day holds it’s unique set of surprises. From dead birds, to broken windows, to piercings during the mass, there has yet to be a dull moment. 

Let’s visit the broken window incident, shall we? It was a seemingly normal day in the class of Señorita Anita’s  6to Music class. We have class on the second floor of the main school building. The back of the classroom has a big set of windows that look out towards the playground. Directly below the windows is a lot with the center's buses, and a few cars that look more like shop projects that were never quite finished. We had just finished our vocal warm-up of various vowel sounds and scales and were beginning the exercise on note values. While the majority of students were participating, there were a handful of students climbing around benches near the back windows. A recipe for danger, definitely. As I am facing the whiteboard, I here a sudden and loud shattering of glass. Oh. NO. I turn to a dead silent class, and five very guilty looking faces staring at the window that now has quite a large hole in it. Everyone is immediately ordered to sit down in silence as I hurriedly go towards the window to investigate. Thankfully no one is standing directly below the window where the shower of broken glass has rained down and no one has been cut on the glass that is scattered inside the class nor the jagged edges of the broken window. I turn to the guilty looking little faces of my five female culprits and fingers immediately begin pointing as the accusations ensue. I bring the five to the front of the class and they immediately begin to well up in tears. I now have a floor covered in shattered glass, five crying 10 year olds, and a class that is surely just not happening. At a loss for what to do, I bring the five girls outside where (gracias a dios!!) we run into one of the psychologists. Upon seeing the group of five crying girls and hearing my explanation of what has occurred the psychologist offers to escort the girls to her office across the hall and the madness stops.

Instances like this are probably what most teachers would refer to as “learning opportunities”…and while I will grant merit to the learning that does come from them, more often than not I feel they are more appropriately dubbed “the daily locura of working with Gods greatest troublemakers”. Coming from someone who broke her arms not once, not twice, but 3 TIMES as a child, I truly have a place in my heart that empathizes with the child who may not yet understand fully that their bones are not made of steel. Nevertheless, in each instance of madness that occurs in my classes, I struggle for the patience to take a step back and look at the situation through the eyes of my students.

As these lessons are learned, I am reminded of one of the many reasons I love working with young people; the observation, fascination, and growth that they experience in a world that has so much to be discovered. Before my departure for Ecuador, I spent some time watching home videos that had resurfaced during a big move in my family. In one video of myself, I am found in the backyard of my childhood home. I look to be about the age of 7. My dad approaches me with a camera as I stare down at some sort of plastic container I am clutching with both hands. “Whaddaya got there Ann Marie?”, without looking up at him I respond intently, “These are my bugs…they’re dead”. What an honest, odd child I was. Observation, fascination, growth; a sequence we all repeat over and over throughout our lives in each and every way. Granted the observation of your garden variety dead crickets in the backyard is certainly less dangerous than breaking a window in music class, the curiosity sparking these actions is virtually the same. Growth is occurring. A lesson is being learned. Students are being students.

As is expected of any institution of learning, the CMT is required to provide a safe, secure, and supportive space for it's students, free from as much danger as we can prohibit. With obvious rational we cannot permit the kind of madness that ensues due to reckless or risky behavior. However, we are able to work patiently through these moments of trial and look at life through the eyes of children once again when we are given the opportunity to. We may not prevent every danger, or stop every fall, but we are able to provide arms that will carry and catch the students we love so dearly when they need it. As we all know from experience it takes learning something for yourself to grow into a fully confident, competent, and empathetic human. No one can have their training wheels on forever. Sometimes we must break a bone, or a rule, or even a window to understand why it is there in the first place (barring no life threatening scenarios). While each student deserves a safe backyard to explore, discover, and grow, the circumstances of our families here at the center do not typically permit the privilege of exploration some of us were granted growing up. For many of them school is the safe place, the backyard to go exploring, the place for lessons to be learned. Moving forward I look forward to bearing witness to the growth of my students, through the highs and the lows of the months to come.

Stay tuned (for most likely, more locura) 🌱

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