How do they celebrate Christmas in Mexico?

Christmas in Mexico is a celebration that spans several weeks, beginning on December 3rd with the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and ending on February 2nd with the Día de la Candelaria, with Las Posadas and Los Santos Inocentes in between.

Christmas trees are not traditional in Mexico but they are becoming more common because of the influence from the USA. The most important decoration though is a Nacimiento, or nativity scene. They are set up on December 12th and Jesus is added to it on Christmas Eve, and the Three Kings are added on the 5th of January.

On Christmas Eve there is a late mass called la Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), so called because a rooster is said to have crowed at midnight on the night Jesus was born. After mass there is a meal, traditionally roast pig Pig, but nowadays often turkey, and just a few small presents brought by Santa (another influence from USA) . Christmas Day itself is quiet, and usually spent with the family.

On the night of 5th January, children leave their shoes by the door and the Three Wise Men visit and leave the bigger presents. The following day there is more eating, including the Roscón de Reyes, to decide who will pay for the tamales at Candlemas!

Related posts: How do they celebrate Christmas in Spain, How do they celebrate Christmas in Denmark, How do they celebrate Christmas in Italy.

Worst Lesson Ever Taught

A typical interview question is, “Can you tell me about a really good lesson you have taught, and say what made it so good?” I’m used to that one and I always have one in mind before I go to an interview.

The last time I went for an interview though, they really threw me. “Can you tell us about a really bad lesson you have taught, and what you learnt from it?” I wasn’t expecting that. Quite apart from the fact that nobody ever wants to share their failures, it’s a hard question to answer. Like most teachers I finish every lesson thinking, “I wish I could teach that all over again – I could do it so much better next time.” How do you choose one from so many like that? I decided to talk about the first lesson I ever taught as a trainee teacher as I don’t think lessons get any worse than that particular one.

I knew what my lesson objective was, and I had thought really carefully about what independent activities I wanted the class to do to practise the learning objective. What I hadn’t considered enough, was how I was going to break down the learning objective to allow them to achieve it. The result was a shambles. I threw far too much information at them in one go, and then set them off on their first task.

Of course, they didn’t understand and the noise level rose as they asked each other what to do. I got frustrated because nobody was working. They were frustrated because I was telling them to be quiet and just get on with it, but they couldn’t. By the end of the hour every child in that class hated me, and they were my least favourite class for the rest of my placement.

But I did take away a very important lesson of my own from that experience, and the first bit of advice I would give any trainee teacher going into the classroom for the first time is this:
The lesson objective is what the class should achieve by the end of the lesson. They are not going to be able to do it after the first ten minutes of the lesson – if they can then your expectations are not high enough. You need to plan a series of small steps for them to take throughout the lesson so that by the end they can look at the lesson objective and say, “Yes – I can do that.”

I’ve never made that mistake again, and now whenever I teach I think about my particular children and plan how to break the objective down for those particular children.