Monday, November 12, 2012

A Free What?!

Political season is officially over in Puerto Rico, as of last Tuesday evening.  The island has a new governor, and the city has a new mayor.  Though I don’t have cable (and so missed out on any political commercials) and I felt pretty far removed from the Obama/Romney race, I experienced my share of political campaigning.  I will not miss the rousing tune of “Con Eduardo estoy yo…” in the streets (though people still tend to sing it to themselves once in a while…it’s pretty catchy).    Nor will I miss the blaring political parades that stopped traffic and sometimes made concentrating while in the house impossible. 

But there was some good that came to us because of the mayoral election in Guayama, I must admit. 

For weeks, my seventh grade students had been telling me that the mayor of Guayama had promised to give them all tablets.  As in the mobile mini-computer kind of tablets.  One student came in with the case for his tablet and showed me proudly.  I, however, had heard nothing about this from anyone other than the students, and it sounded pretty far-fetched to me.  I got a little nervous noticing how high their hopes were set. 

And then, on November 1st, a last-minute staff meeting was called after school.  Our principal opened with something along the lines of, “I’ve just been informed of this, and I have no control over it.  If you want to vent your concerns to me after the meeting, you certainly can.”  The group tensed. 

Turns out, the rumors were true.  The mayor of Guayama was coming to the school the next morning to give out the tablets.  Of course, they were not to be simply delivered to each homeroom.  She required a full-school assembly, at which each student would be called by name to receive their tablet and then take a photo.  The mayor said she’d be there at 8am.  But the last time she’d visited a class at our school, she’d been nearly 2 hours late.  Our principal wasn’t sure whether she’d require both elementary and middle/high school to be in the assembly at the same time or not.  Long story short: we could potentially lose an entire class period or more to the production, and we’d have the task of keeping our students orderly through a long, hot, boring, and quite frankly, pointless assembly.  Because yes, all students and teachers would receive a tablet.

Wait wait wait… TEACHERS TOO?!?! 
Okay.  I think we can handle a messed-up schedule for a day. 

And we did.  As it turned out, we ended up only missing about 45 minutes of the last period of the day, which is the longest period anyway, so I still had an hour with my class.  The assembly was quite organized and efficient, really.  The only confusion came in wondering when class would begin again, as students were dismissed from the assembly to go straight to lunch, but lunch started late because of the assembly.  No one told students or teachers what time class would begin again.  But it all worked out. 

So now I’ve got a new toy.  And all of my students have a new toy.  And despite the questionable politics behind the gift (The mayor spent $2 million dollars and students coincidentally received their tablets the week before the election.  Hmm…), the educational possibilities really ARE quite exciting.  (As long as every teacher doesn’t try and use the tablets on the same day and the school’s internet doesn’t crash under the strain.  But so far that hasn’t been a problem.) 

Oh, and the mayor up for re-election?  She lost, despite her expensive gift to the students and educators of her city.  I wonder if a thank-you note from my students and I would make her feel better? 

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