jueves, 26 de abril de 2018

Irma, María, and a Struggling Spanish Teacher

Irma, María y una maestra de español en pie de lucha

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Sept. 20, 2017. Hurricane María strikes Puerto Rico. 

After losing my favorite stuffed toy too early in my childhood, a big yellow book became my favorite companion at 11 years old. Toda Mafalda, Argentinian Quino’s masterpiece comic strips collection, more than once plummeted over my face when sleep defeated me. I think this gem was what ignited my love for reading, for the Spanish language and culture, and my strange interest in “old people” stuff like radio morning news. It was through the radio that the first news of Hurricane Irma came to my notice, although later Facebook became my go-to source for panic updates.

Island Girl, Hurricanes Galore

As a Puerto Rican, I had experienced my share of storms and hurricanes. We’d had bad ones: Hugo when I was just 4, but which I still remember, and Georges in 1998, which was my most recent memory of more than a month without power and running water. I don’t know if it was that this one was the biggest spiraling monster I’d ever seen on TV, or that now as a thirty-something, my view of things has started to turn from “daredevil” to “sensible adult”, but this Irma girl scared me.

Little did we know that sister monster María would profoundly change the landscape and spirit of Puerto Rico just 13 days later.

As it became clearer that it was coming our way, kids at school started getting excited for canceled classes and for experimenting what they’d only heard stories about. When in September 7, Irma brushed by us unexpectedly, we were relieved—many Puerto Ricans believed the Island was blessed because most major storms have sort of circumvented us in the past. Little did we know that sister monster María would profoundly change the landscape and spirit of Puerto Rico just 13 days later.

Life after María

Fast-forward 7 months, and this has been my hardest school year ever (as it has been for many others). My school opened to students two months after the hurricane, and we tried to get things back to normal as best we could, with paper-less and technology-less lessons, low-light classrooms, heat, new empty seats, lost materials and homes, and many more uncertainties. We were trying to be an oasis for students that we had barely met a few weeks before the hurricane, while our own lives were simultaneously turning upside down.

Going back to my classroom days after María.

The month of July B.M. (before María), I had finally decided to open up a Teachers Pay Teachers store after being a buyer for years and finding very little resources usable in secondary Spanish Language Arts classes. By August, my only two existing uploads were English and Spanish versions of my favorite argumentation unit, and I had sold exactly 3 units of the Spanish version. Weeks A.M. (guess what that means), when I finally encountered a bit of mobile data to check my email, I was surprised to learn of my first sale on the English version of my unit, on the morning of September 20, a few hours after María’s first strong winds left us without power and communication. Two more sales had happened on September 26.

New Horizons

Weirdly, these humble sales propelled a new sense of confidence, grit and creativity in me. It has truly been the worst school year ever. Amidst all the craziness, graduate school, power outages and more, I’ve pushed and popped into life a handful of resources that I’m very proud of, and I don’t plan to stop. I love the supportive community I’ve found online, and I’m eager to form connections with like-minded, creative language teachers like myself.

Welcome to La Misi de Español! I’m excited to share with you my stories, ideas and tribulations as a Boricua teacher with a newfound entrepreneurial spirit. I’m not sure in which facet, but I’ll always be a Puerto Rican Maestra. Forever. 

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