Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saved by the Bell

I realized I have not shared much about my teaching experiences thus far. My teaching schedule has continued to evolve since the first week. I think it is finally set in stone-with 4 periods of social studies per week to two different sections of 6th graders. The first couple of periods were trying, I was stretching the material to make it last the full period. I was always so releived when the bell ringer clanged the bell and yelled "change classes please!"

The students are having a hard time understanding me. The words and phrases I use are different than their own. I will spend 10 minutes explaining something, and then someone will say "Madam, please, we don't understand." I am trying to speak slowly and explain more thouroughly. Teaching is just all together different here. In my class we have no textbooks, no projector, no tv, no supplies. The only materials I have to teach with are the whiteboard and the notebooks the students use for notes & homework. I have some art supplies I can use from time to time with them. There is a copy machine at the school, but it is only for special occasions. All copies have to be approved and then submitted to the clerk who makes the copies days in advance. So, its not like I can print off worksheets/maps/articles to hand out each class period. I have used the copy machine twice and both times felt like they thought it an inconvience to make copies of things for my class use. So....I am trying my best to be creative with what I have, but it is difficult sometimes. They end up having to copy down notes and homework questions more often than I would prefer. It is hard to creatively present material without many resources.

We have been learning about enviornmental problems in Ghana. Not exactly my area of expertise, but I am doing what I can. Last week we were discussing water pollution, and the dangers of standing water. As a project we took shovels and went down to the soccer pitch to cover up standing water around the edges. It was great to see them take ownership and apply what they had learned about mosquitoes breeding and bacteria growing in standing water.

I am considering trying to find out a way to buy some textbooks for the kids. Not that I love always using textbooks either. But they need a resource, and so do I since the material is all new to me as well. Some of the kids have various social studies texts, but is only a few in each class, and the books are all different. We are just now getting into material that can be more interactive. Yesterday we were discussing land degredation and the negative effects of deforestation. The class suddenly had so many questions about replanting and taking care of trees. They couldn't beleive when I told them you had to a have a permit to cut down a tree in America. And that you are supposed to replant three seeds for each tree you cut. I had to cut them off due to a lack of time, but it was great to see them so interested in the material.

I am slowly adapting to the learning needs and styles of the students. There are so many small things about the school system that are new to me. It is just taking time to learn. The grading system is really complicated and involves a lot of averaging. No such thing as plugging grades into the computer for calculating. Many of the things I have been trained to do in teaching simply don't apply here. I am learning a whole new side of education.

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