As I was off from my site work at the schools today, I spent a great majority of my time working on my final paper and project. All this work made me realize how close I am to the end of my time here in Jamaica. I am not entirely sure what I will take from this whole experience, but I know in my heart it will have been worth it. I’m thinking I will not know the true extent of everything I learned here until I get home…and I’m okay with that. My main hope is that I will have left some kind of mark behind after I have left, particularly at Yallahs Primary School and in Miss Bogle’s grade one classroom. This was my primary site, and the root of all my community work and learning here in Jamaica. I’m going to be completely honest: working in that classroom was hard for me. In fact, there were days I absolutely hated it and wanted to go home. It was not until later reflection that I could see good in the day I had had. The environment in Miss Bogle’s classroom was just so unfamiliar to me. In addition, a lot of the time it seemed like an inappropriate classroom. I realized that there were just cultural differences I was having trouble understanding, but I think it is okay to also acknowledge that there were things about the classroom that needed changing. Think about this: a group of 50 some kids ages 6-8 years old all stuffed into one room. There are only supposed to be about 35 kids in this class, so there are not nearly enough desks, pencils, or books for each child. Already overwhelmed with her classroom, Miss Bogle spends most of her time teaching having the children sit in their seats quietly and copy from the board or work in their workbooks. Who can blame her? If they are not seated quietly, they are usually up running around the room fighting each other. And this isn’t typical fighting. These kids really go at it. They jump at each other, stab each other with pencils, grab each other around the neck, slap each other in the face; girls and boys both. It gets pretty hard to watch. And at a point…Miss Bogle just lets it go. These kids have been taught to stick up for themselves, to fight back. They don’t back off. Plus, for a lot of them, this is a way of getting their energy out. And really, what one teacher can stop a group of 50 kids from all fighting each other. It’s not easy. Oftentimes, when Miss Bogle does not just let it slide, she yells or may use physical contact with the students. As if all that did not seem like a plateful enough, Miss Bogle’s classroom is an inclusive class, meaning she has a few students with severe disabilities, ranging from autism to behavioral problems. Although educated on special education, it seems Miss Bogle has not been too properly trained. These kids end up sitting at their own table in the corner, keeping themselves occupied with random manipulatives and letter blocks. And when they become bored, the classroom gets even more wild. All and all, the environment is a bit of a mess. It is hard to imagine that the children really learn that much, but for the most part, they can read, they can spell, they can add. And beyond all that, they seem happy to be in school and they are proud to be at Yallahs Primary. It is impressive that Miss Bogle has not totally lost her mind. Instead, she still seems dedicated to educating these little first graders. And for that, they respect her dearly. I hope that after I leave, and give Miss Bogle my classroom management suggestions, as this will be my final project, that the classroom environment improves, even if it is just a little bit. Miss Bogle’s classroom is not a bad place, in fact with the resources presented, I am surprised it is not in a worse condition, however, there are changes that need to be made. Improvements can be instituted. Probably in the Jamaican education system as a whole. Maybe, just maybe, I can be a seed to that growth. And if I can be that, I know this whole trip will have been worth it.