_Introduction Being a long-term volunteer teacher at My Little Red House Bilingual School requires a commitment of three months to one full school year. It is for
independent, self-guided, self-reliant individuals who are capable of
making the best of limited resources and adapting to circumstances. In addition to living and working in a new country, teachers will be adjusting to teaching in a Honduran classroom. Although you will find support from the school Principal and your fellow teachers, you will often have to guide yourself. Most importantly, volunteers report that their experience has a positive impact on students and themselves, and that their time here, is extremely rewarding.
_ Teaching Responsibilities Though all volunteers are required to use the textbooks and syllabi for each class as a guide, most importantly, volunteers are encouraged to use their own teaching styles, methods, ideas and creativity for their classes. Teachers have the freedom to design and conduct lessons as they see appropriate using skills, knowledge, and personal qualities to develop lessons.
All teachers are responsible for the following:
1. Creation of class lesson plans based on the recommended textbooks 2. Development, assignment, and grading of daily homework, quizzes and projects 3. Development and grading of quarterly study guides and quarterly exams 4. Recording of attendance, homework, participation and behavior, quizzes and projects and quarterly exams 5. Meet with parents when requested
Schedule My Little Red House Bilingual School runs Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Teachers must be at school by 6:45 a.m. and stay until the end of the school day.
The school also observes a number of national holidays with vacation days. During these breaks, volunteers are free to travel within Honduras or throughout Central America.
Students The students who attend My Little Red House Bilingual School come from a diverse background. We have students who are wealthy by Honduran and American standards, and we have students who are middle class. We have students who live in large houses, and some who live in small and simple homes. Some students pay full tuition, while others are awarded scholarships, which means that they do not pay tuition or for learning materials. The students that you will teach are the future of Honduras no matter what their background.
Teachers should be aware of cultural differences in the classroom. Often, teachers will find that problems they encounter are caused by bad attitudes or disrespect. Remember, our students are learning in a second language and a second culture. As in any school, there are some who are less motivated than others. Patience and understanding is key to a successful student/teacher relationship and though most days may be challenging, volunteers come away with a sense of achievement and experience dealing with difficult situations.
Most students come from homes where reading is not a focus of the culture like it is in North America or Europe. Books in English will certainly be a rarity in most homes, but students love to make a mess of our library, but we are working hard to establish good reading habits.
Homework and other projects and assignments can sometimes be challenging to get them to complete. The overall results of what students complete and with how much effort, is dependent upon their own personal attitude towards school work, as well as the amount of support parents are able to provide at home with English assignments. We encourage teachers to work with each student and the class as a whole to bring a positive spin to homework and assignments. Rewarding students for completion of tasks and good behavior often provides better classroom results.
Parents Parents are generally enthusiastic and encourage their children with school projects. However, we do know that parents often can’t give English academic help at home. Volunteers find that parents here value student's academic grades just as highly, if not more highly, than student behavior.
Parents do not usually participate in class unless teachers have asked them to come in for a special presentation. Sometimes, parents are asked to meet with teachers to discuss behavior or academic related scenarios.
Dress Code As a teacher, it is important to remember that you are a role model to the students. The way you look should demonstrate cleanliness and organization. While our dress code is casual, it is important to look presentable and awake so you are ready to teach and the students respect you as a teacher.
Accepted clothing is as follows: Sandals, flip-flops, sneakers, flats, shoes, etc.; appropriate loose fitting t-shirts and tank tops or dress shirts; jeans, pants, cargo pants, capris; knee length or longer skirts, dresses and shorts. The school would prefer no visible piercings (other than, for women, earrings or a discreet nose pin) and no dreadlocks. Tattoos are also frowned upon by local people and will need to be kept covered.
School Resources The following school resources are available to all volunteers: a small library which contains a variety of teacher and student resource material; each class has a white board; there is wifi internet available at the school and an internet connection to share at the volunteer house; there are general supply stores where you can purchase a variety of materials for projects.
Classes are generally conducted using a combination of white board writing, photocopied handouts, and textbook utilization. Each student is required to bring their own school supplies at the beginning of the school year such as: pens, pencils, crayons, sharpeners, glue, erasers, notebooks, etc.
Teachers will be able to find most, if not all, of the basic teaching supplies needed at local librerias, or school supply stores. We recommend that you bring a few things with you to start you off such as: Dry eraser makers for white boards; notebooks, pens, and pencils; stickers or other reward materials; and any resource books that you feel would be helpful in lesson or teaching preparation. We also suggest you bring adhesives like sticky tack and foam tape that will cling to our concrete walls. We highly recommend bringing a laptop computer of your own for preparing lessons, researching, and grading.
Vaccinationsand Health Honduras has no immunization requirement. However, Many travelers choose to get immunizations for diseases like hepatitis A and B. Talk with your doctor at home before departing to find out what is right for you. Note that hepatitis immunizations and other vaccines sometimes require 2-3 appointments over a 6-month period. Plan accordingly.
Bring a supply of any specialized medicines with you (including birth control), and we recommend a supply of contacts or a backup of your glasses. Women may want to bring tampons, as these are hard to find in Ocotepeque.
Medical care like routine doctor's visits and dental cleanings can be cheap, starting around L100 ($5) without lab fees. Common medicines like antibacterials can be found readily at pharmacies, often without a prescription, and you will find many generic prescriptions there as well.
There are doctors and clinics in town that can address most medical issues. In the unlikely case of an emergency, there is a 24-hour clinic in town. If the problem exceeds its capabilities, there is a large and very good hospital in Santa Rosa (2 hours away) and a hospital in San Salvador (2.5 hours away) that is equivalent to a major city hospital in the United States.
Insurance The school does not provide health insurance or travel medical insurance to volunteers. Contact your personal healthcare provider to determine if your healthcare plan will cover any medical expenses that you may incur during your stay in Central America. We suggest considering purchasing traveler´s insurance to cover medical expenses and other issues that travelers typically encounter overseas. It is recommended that you do some research and see what option best suits you.
Banking and ATM’s There are several banks in Ocotepeque equipped with ATM’s. It is recommended that you check with your bank to ensure that your current bank card or credit cards are set-up to access funds outside of your country.
Tourist Visa Renewal When entering Honduras, you should request a tourist visa valid for 90 days in Honduras. Before 90 days is over, if the volunteer would like to continue teaching at the school, the volunteer will need to travel at their own expense to either Belize or Mexico to avoid an extra expense for a violation of the tourist visa in Honduras. After traveling to one of these countries the volunteer will be able to get another tourist visa valid for 90 days.
Travel to Honduras Volunteer teachers pay their own expenses to fly to Honduras and any accommodations needed during transit to Ocotepeque. The school will provide detailed travel information to confirmed volunteers that will help in planning your trip.
Sending and Receiving Mail Mail and packages sent from the US typically take about three weeks by standard mail and four or five days with FedEx express service to arrive in Ocotepeque. You can send and receive letters and packages from the post office in town. They will weigh your item and charge you accordingly (as a reference, a letter is usually 50 Lempiras). An item sent from here usually takes about three weeks to arrive at its destination when being sent to the US.
Telephones Volunteers can buy cell phones once they are in Honduras if they wish, which can be very reasonably priced. A cell phone from North America will probably not work here without changes that can be expensive and difficult to make. Instead of monthly contracts, volunteers choose "pay as you go" plans from local Tigo, Digicel, or Claro; minutes can be bought at stores all over town.
The easiest way for volunteers to keep in touch with family and friends is to use an internet connection and applications for phone or computer such as Skype, Whatsapp, or Viber. These are all free ways to communicate internationally.
Internet and Laptops My Little Red House Bilingual School has wifi available to volunteers. The volunteer house has wifi as well. There are also four restaurants and cafes in Ocotepeque that provide free wifi access. It is highly recommended you bring your own laptop or netbook with you.