What experience do you feel you are gaining?
-Confidence in leading a group
-Reward of knowing the impact in the lives of the children
-Satisfaction of being appreciated
-Learning experience by observing the style of the full time teacher, Isabela
-Pleasure of meeting wonderful young learners
What is the best thing about your placement?
-The children are so lovely and eager to learn
-Observing the effective teaching style of Isabela
-Having the freedom to conduct the lessons any way I want, using any materials I choose.
Would you recommend this placement to anyone else?
Yes, this is a fantastic place to work, teach, learn and grow.
What type of person do you think this placement would suit?
This placement would perfectly suit a person who is independent and creative. All activities and lessons are up to the individual. A person with patience, flexibility, and a sense of humor! Of course, an individual who is genuinely passionate about teaching a learning.
What, if any, improvements could be made to the placement?
Given the high volume of students and very few staff members, I found the organization of the placement, the materials, and of the students to be quite impressive. There is an obvious level of respect between the children and the staff, which seems to contribute to the daily routine running very smoothly.
Was there anything that you weren’t told before your departure that you think future volunteers should know?
Prospective volunteers should understand that all teaching materials, lesson plans, and ideas for activities are completely up to them. Ana provides wonderful support in terms of brainstorming ideas, offering suggestions and helping to access resources, but ultimately the success of the classes is completely a result of the volunteer’s effort. Any volunteer should allow ample time before the trip to ask sufficient questions about the student’s interests, English levels, ages, class size, class hours, and gather materials and plan activities based on this information. An experienced teacher will find it easier, as they will have materials and activities previously used, and perhaps ready for future use.
If I were to do it over, I would have allowed much more time to plan for the experience. After 20 or so hours of travel, I needed to spend the night preparing all lessons for the next morning and I was not expecting to start this abruptly. I was under the impression that I was there to support the staff, not run the show! It took a few days to adjust and build confidence, but by the 4th day, I was loving the freedom to teach any subject, using any materials, and leading any activities in any way that I felt was effective and fun! By the end, I didn’t want to leave!
I was happy that I brought a deck of index cards, as I found multiple uses for them and they don’t seem to be available for purchase in Florianopolis (or Sao Paulo, or Salvador!)
Also, I would recommend to print handouts that you intend to use in the classroom before traveling. The placement has a copier, so you only need to bring one copy of each handout, but they do not have a printer.
Can you describe a typical day?
-Arrive at the placement around 8:00-8:15 am to set up
-Class from 8:30-10:30 (or 11:00am)
-Lunch with the kids and staff
-Plan activities and create materials for afternoon classes, or enjoy free time outside of the placement
(Groups were divided by age or level, and class time consisted of presentations, group work, pair work, games, art projects, and singing.)
vening to plan lesson activities and materials for the next day.
Any other relevant comments that could help future volunteers?
I found my basic Portuguese abilities to be useful, as it could be challenging to regain the attention of the students if they begin talking, only using English. I found, however, that after a few days of miming commands (such as pointing to my ears and saying, “listen!”), the children began to be able to recognize these key words, which are imperative for managing the classroom. Knowing a little Portuguese also proved useful in being able to understand questions students have.
What is your experience like living at the accommodation?
The accommodation is lovely. Bruno and Camilla are very friendly and helpful. Also, there is a friendly little doggy. During the quiet season, you can enjoy having a room to yourself. It is a 5 minute walk to the beach. You can hear the waves from your bed! It is about a 20 minute walk to the placement. A simple breakfast is provided each morning (bread and butter, coffee, bananas, grapes.)