September, when it all begins

2022/08/31

The first challenge is to manage time. It's about 160 days of school. More classes for kindergarten and 1st cycle, less for the 9th grade. Every week there are around 30 hours of classes, this strange concept that defines a time and a space.



Tomorrow, you start the train. The image always jumps in my sight: a steam locomotive, as in the cowboy movies of the American West. Today, on the eve of the day of departure, the coal deposits and the water boiler are filled. Throughout August a small team of teachers was preparing the schedules of students and teachers. As we all insist on calling, the "continuous" or "the school assistants" ones were busy leaving everything clean and organized.


Tomorrow, the boiler will begin to be heated and the station or the train stop fill up with the teachers who are expected to report to the school, filling in a tiny little paper called "Presentation to the Service". It's a remnant of a bureaucracy that may no longer make sense.

In the teachers' room, there will be kisses and some hugs distributed by all. It's the only day we greet each other like this. From here we will just say "good morning" or "Hi! Is that all right?"


For about a week and a half, we will be busy with several meetings. Around the 13th the train will leave the station with the entrance to the scene of the students: hundreds of children and young people arriving, with an air of those who have just come from the beach. Parents still go in their short shorts and light dresses, far removed from January scarves.


Gradually the train will gain speed and, in early October, will run at its cruising speed, at a good pace until Christmas, with a brief stop in mid-November for interim meetings.


The first challenge is to manage time. It's about 160 days of school. More classes for kindergarten and 1st cycle, less for the 9th grade. Every week there are around 30 hours of classes, this strange concept that defines a time and a space.


There are disciplines with about 5 hours per week and others with only 2 hours. But, the list of apprenticeships is extensive.


During the first year I taught, I followed in the footsteps of my internship advisors. But with the stage done and already alone the task was another. I remember this second year I was a teacher. Sitting at a small Macintosh, the wonder computer invented by Steve Job. He was a professor of natural sciences. I'd have three hours a week with my students. I prepared the calendar, signed the holidays, and realized that at most I would have about 90 hours a year with each class.


I grabbed the list of topics to address, the contents, as we called it and I panicked. How would I get all the students, children 10 to 11 years old, to learn everything that was supposed to learn? And this is one of the great mysteries of education: how to manage time, this sand that runs through the fingers of the present falling towards the future.

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