My name is Ximena, and I joined the Education team at EFTC in 2021 as a Special Education teacher. To give you a little more information about how I came to be in this role and this profession, I want to tell you about my own education and how I chose to focus on special education.
It all started at school when I was a child and I felt different... because I was different. In second grade I began to notice that I was not the same as my classmates. I never knew what the teachers were talking about and also could not remember verbal instructions. My ability to pay attention in the same way as my peers was limited and so I developed many gaps in my education and knowledge. I was referred to many specialists however, they simply said that I was a "slow learner”.
My parents and teachers accepted this and the years continued to pass until I reached fourth grade and the difficulties began to be more evident. Everything that I had not understood correctly was obvious when the content was more complex, so I failed the year and had to repeat. That was a hard blow for me and my family. My parents could not understand why it was so challenging for me and they began to believe that I was just being "lazy", since that was the information they received from my teachers.
The following year was very difficult, my teachers already had me labeled. They would give me harsh consequences when I didn't finish my work or understand something. I began to feel very frustrated, I hated school and no longer had the motivation to learn. After repeating fourth grade, I changed schools multiple times. So although learning and focusing continued to be difficult for me, these differences were not as obvious to new teachers.
One day, after many years and having seen many different professionals, one of them finally managed to give me a diagnosis which resonated with me and explained what I was feeling. I perfectly fit all of the described characteristics. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity.
After my diagnosis I became very interested in education. From my experience, I felt that someone had to change something in the educational system in Guatemala. I always thought that no child should feel stupid or bad for not learning like other people. So when deciding what to specialize in during my further education, I chose to study to be a teacher.
During my final year, when I was doing my student teaching placement, I met a student who had a learning disability and was struggling at school. Although I understood what she was feeling and had the desire to help, I did not have the knowledge or the tools to do so. This motivated me to complete a further degree, specializing in Special Education, to support any child with special educational needs.
I thought that studying Special Education specifically would be the solution and make everything easier in my classroom, but I was wrong. I still faced big challenges with many students, different challenges every day. However, the happiness and the progress of the students motivated me to continue, to want to improve myself as a teacher. This led me to study a further specialized focus in Psychopedagogy at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.
During and after my studies I was able to work in a number of different schools and jobs, allowing me to have various experiences in different contexts. One day I was looking at the EFTC page online, and I saw that they were looking for a Special Education Teacher. I started reading and I really liked the history, the educational approach, and the mission and vision of the Foundation. So when I got through to an interview I was quite excited, then when I received the email that I had gotten the position I was even more excited!
As of today, I have been part of the EFTC team for almost two months. There have been many challenges due to the situation we are experiencing with Covid19. However, the love of learning our students have continues to motivate me to become the teacher that they need.
In Guatemala the change in the education field, and wider, is starting. There are many people who want true inclusion, an inclusion where we embrace diversity, one in which we respond to the different needs of our students purposefully and with care.