Well Term III in the Primary Teachers College world is full of many turns which we are finding as they seem to happen. The latest has been school practice, or student teaching. It started basically last Friday. They had planned a “brief”ing (can it still be called brief if it goes over 3 hours) to happen on school practice. So we waited all day for this briefing to happen and then at about 5 a student came to inform us it would be at 8 in the evening.
The briefing was basically last minute do’s and don’ts to the students. It is interesting because the tutors seem to think that they need to give the students an answer for every single question they may have out in the field. Rather then just teaching them critical thinking skills to find their own answers to questions. So we went over seating arrangements, learning aids, proper PE uniforms (for the majority of the briefing), how to write capital and lower case letters, and many other things. Every tutor had to be sure to include his or her input (even if their input was the same as the last tutors). Emily talked about how these students had the ability to change the teaching profession, and not just reciprocate what their teachers were like. So if their teachers were not on time, they could be. If their teachers caned them, they do not need to cane. If their teachers humiliated them they did not have to do the same to their students. They were all very excited and encouraged by what she said, especially since most of them were asleep before she came up.
The next day the students were ready to leave by 7 am for the schools. They slowly trickled out throughout the day, and the last group left around dinnertime. The schools do not provide anything for them so they have to take it all with them. When I say all that consists of: their boxes for clothes, mattresses, flour (for Posho and Porridge), beans, paraffin, and wood for cooking with. They loaded everything up and off they went.
This week we have been getting to observe them out at their primary schools, which has been really fun. So each morning we pile into the school truck and get dropped off at the various primary schools. Emily and I have been getting to go together, which it has been nice to bounce ideas off of one another. Each day we get there basically right as the school day is starting and make a plan with the 10 to 12 second year students that we will observe. Then most of the day is spent sitting in the back of the classroom watch how they do and looking through their lesson plans. Then after we are done observing the student teach a 30 to 40 minute class we meet with them to discuss our observations, and their reactions.
So far we have loved getting to build more one-on-one relationships with the students that can often be hard to do when they are all at the college. Some of the common mistakes or areas of concern we have seen are: not knowing effective alternative discipline techniques, variety in teaching methods, and not engaging students very effectively in the classroom. The things that we find the find most hopeful for our students are that they are excited to teach, their classrooms are very well organized, and almost all seem to really enjoy their students. So overall we have been very encouraged with were are students are at, and really enjoy getting to see them teach.
We were a little worried that two mzungus (white people) would cause a huge disturbance at these primary schools, and most of the time it doesn’t. You always have at least a couple students looking at you in class, but usually they are not always the same students. But our students always come right up to us when we get there and greet us and that makes us feel right at home. We have about 2 or 3 more weeks of school practice, and then the students will get graded by the national moderators for school practice. So hopefully these weeks of teaching will get them confident going into teaching jobs in just a few more months (some could have jobs as soon as February)!
Well I hope you all are doing well back in the US, and we hope that you are enjoying your fall!