Week 7:
Lessons Learned

Massey Fellow in International Student Teaching

Colegio Ecuatoriano Español América Latina | Quito, Ecuador

December 9, 2019

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Penultimate Edition of Brady’s Blog. This week went by so quickly as we only had four days of school. I can’t believe I only have one week left in Ecuador. In this blog I’ll be talking a little about my week and a little about what I have gotten from this experience as well.This week started off with a bang, as Wendy and I were rushing to get everything graded and returned to students as well as get them prepared for quizzes and tests that they have next week. Monday through Wednesday flew by. Between the internal sports championships, teaching classes, extras, and preparing for Gloria’s departure to Colombia to compete in an international dance competition, my time was occupied completely. However, on Monday night we did make time to have a  night together as a family. It was mostly to decorate for the holidays but it was still nice to spend time together. We played Christmas music and told stories about our favorite experiences with animals and ornaments and other warm memories. I even got on the aux and show them some of my favorite Christmas songs from my favorite artists! After that, we were all busy working on our own projects for the rest of the week.

We had class outside one day. It was incredibly productive. (This wasn’t staged)

Gloria left Thursday morning for her 10 day trip, so it was my job to get Adrian to school just in time to celebrate the Quito Foundation celebration. Although the actual holiday is on the sixth of December, we were able to celebrate it a day early. The kids got the opportunity to not wear uniforms and we had no official class as it was a day dedicated to celebration. We celebrated by playing the official card game of Ecuador (“Cuarenta”), eating a traditional Ecuadorian Locro, as well as having a dance marathon! The entire day was a blast. We (Primero Bachillerato) had a soccer game against Decimo Basica (which we lost) as well.

Here’s a shot of the school dance marathon

I absolutely love card games and I picked the game of Cuarenta up relatively quickly. Enough in order to compete against the neighbors Thursday night in a friendly competition. Santiago and I teamed up and went against other pairs playing best 2 out of 3. We ended up undefeated (3-0) heading into the finals… which we proceeded to promptly lose. But, we still took second and I made $2.75 profit off of the evening. Not bad for the first day playing a new card game.

Santiago and I Collecting our earnings after our Second Place finish in the Cuarenta Tournament!

On Friday I went out with some friends to the historic downtown to experience some of the Quito Holiday festivities. After a cramped bus ride and a long walk in the pouring rain, we made it to La Ronda. A well-preserved, famous street in the heart of Quito’s downtown which is home to many famous shops and currently, many new bars, restaurants, and clubs. The streets are packed with people moving all around and the energy is electrifying. We stopped in a restaurant to get out of the rain, eat pizza, and drink canelazo. Canelazo is a hot traditional Andean beverage that consists of sugar, cinnamon, water, and alcohol. It is sometimes mixed with fruit juice (my favorite is Maracuya) and the alcohol is sometimes omitted. It is most popular during the Quito Holidays but it can be found year round.

After we feasted, we walked out onto the street and right into a parade. Students of three separate schools were performing a holiday march, where there were children playing drums and bells and followed by others dancing with batons. We followed the parade down La Ronda and into a square, where they had a final performance. In the square, all three bands synced up and started playing as loud as they could, while students from each school would go into the middle and perform amazing stunts. These stunts included but were not limited to: a boy no less than 10 years old doing a back flip and juggling a flaming baton and another student flipping over that same boy and then juggling a baton with fireworks on either end of it. It was amazing. I was amazed.

The grand finale!

After we saw the grand finale of the parade, we drove to Avenida de Los Shyris near Parque La Carolina to enjoy the rest of the night. During the Quito Holiday, Los Shyris, one of the main streets in all of Quito, is practically shut down and filled with people who all want to celebrate their city. The street is filled with food (and canelazo) vendors. And, instead of one main stage where music is performed on, people use their own cars’ sound systems to blast music for others and dance the night away. The avenue is absolutely packed with everyone celebrating and it was an experience I definitely will not forget.

On Saturday, Santiago, Adrian, and I woke up early to drive three hours to Quilotoa Lake. Quilotoa is a caldera filled with water located in the Cotopaxi province of Ecuador that stretches 3 kilometers wide. It is the Western most volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. You are able to hike the circumference of it in around 4 hours. I really wanted to hike the entire thing but since we had Adri and since we were also not at all prepared, we only did a 30 minute hike from the new viewpoint to the old viewpoint. We had lunch at a hostel and returned back home. It is my dream to hike (or even run) all the way around Quilotoa and I plan on doing it when I return to Ecuador.

Santiago, Adrian, and I just enjoying some views

After we got home Saturday night, I was wiped from the eventful weekend I already had. Today, I went on a run and am not planning on doing anything else besides relaxing. On my run today, I had a lot of time to reflect on my experience as a whole. Mainly, I thought about all the things that I have learned from this experience.

Sure, my Spanish has improved drastically after being immersed for the past seven weeks. I have been educated in the history of Quito and have learned about cultural practices. I have been exposed to new teaching methods and classroom management styles that have helped me further shape my own teaching style. But, I already expected to learn all of that. The whole point of this student-teaching experience is to be able to learn more about education under a mentor teacher before going to teach in the real world in my own classroom. I knew that this was going to be a learning experience in those aspects. However, there are a couple things that I learned about myself that will serve me well in the future.

Here’s another photo of Quilotoa

One thing that I learned about myself is how to be comfortable in situations that give me anxiety or are otherwise unsettling. Over the course of the 7 weeks that I have been here, I have been thrown in to my fair share of uncomfortable situations. Whether it is teaching a lesson that I have not prepared for in Spanish or going out dancing until 2 am when I only know two people in the entire building, I have experienced a lot of anxiety during my time here. As you all know by now (unless this is the first blog that you are reading. In that case, Welcome!), CEEAL can have some classes that are pretty chaotic. With students screaming over each other, constantly being out of their seats, and even leaving the classroom at random times, I have learned to sit through these classes and just observe. I have felt a little powerless and unable to control things. But through all of these anxiety inducing events that I have experienced, I have slowly come to terms with a single realization.

This realization has been told to me over and over again by countless people in my life, but I guess I haven’t really taken it to heart until now. The realization is this: I cannot control what other people do.  I can only control my actions and try to better the situation through my own behavior. In the case of uncomfortable situations, this applies perfectly. Even though I may be uncomfortable in a certain setting, I can’t change the setting by making others do what I want. No, instead I must be comfortable with myself and do what I can do to help better the situation. I cannot change others’ actions, but I can model good behavior and try to help the situation out by being calm and confident in myself. I must also not look at the situation as one where I can get involved. Instead, I must observe and think about how I can help diffuse the situation. These tactics will be especially useful in the my future classroom because, through modeling good behavior and remaining calm, I will be able to create a classroom environment that promotes this same atmosphere. Remaining calm and solution-minded will also help me deal with conflicts where emotions are high, whether with students, parents, or even other teachers. So there you have it, I finally learned that you can’t control others’ actions, only your own and your reactions to others.

Here’s my weekly picture of an animal. A grazing sheep at Quilotoa.

The other thing that I have learned about myself is that I am very amiable, and that is a good thing. I have always thought I am one to be pretty firm in my beliefs and what I want to do. But, over the past 7 weeks, I have found myself agreeing to so many things I have not wanted to do or have not been prepared to do during this experience without a complaint. I know I don’t want to be a push over but I also have found that it is a good thing to be able to be in a seemingly neutral position in order to work well with others. There are people who I have very good professional relationships with who have beliefs (whether teaching philosophy or life philosophy) that differ drastically from mine. These professional relationships help me to continue to teach students and do my job to the best of my ability, and that is what really matters. I have learned through these past seven weeks that I will put aside my own opinions and beliefs if it means I can better help my students.

Okay folks, that’s all for this weeks blog. Be sure to check in next week for the last installment!

Viva Quito!


Brady Tobin '19

Brady is a math education major, computer science minor from Erie, Colorado.