Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A fun day in class

Today I had my teaching practice class, the lovely senior five science and mathematics for their weekly methodology lesson. I know you shouldn’t have favourites, but what can I say, I’m only human...  They were ahead of all the other classes so I spent the day making counting strings out of bottle tops and arrow cards and shapes out of plantain tree leaves so we could have a lesson on using resources in mathematics. We certainly had a lot of fun as these pictures show! It has inspired me to plan a similar session for the languages students on literacy resources. It was great to have such a fun lesson and reminded me that above all else that should be my aim. If I could just convince some of them that having fun in class is possible I will go home a very happy lady.

This job challenges me so much on a personal and professional level. Trying to be understood is such an uphill battle every single day when you are required to teach classes of up to 60 through most people’s third language and you are trying to introduce strange and unfamiliar ways of working. Some days you only see the challenges and they feel so serious and so huge you wonder if you can make even the smallest of differences out here. So its nice to take stock, look around the class and think ‘they are all engaged!’ That was what I liked to see in my class at home and here is no different. Learning here is so formal, it is a challenge for me to adapt my way of working because these students have mostly never experienced active, child centred learning. They have never had the chance to touch and handle resources and they are not used to being asked to work creatively or come up with their own ideas. And as people who know the ‘teacher Camilla’ will agree, I am nothing if not creative. So I do meet with a lot of blank and confused looks!

What I’m trying to do takes them right out of their comfort zone and sometimes I think I forget that and start to lose empathy when I’m trying to explain what I perceive to be a simple task for the fifth or sixth time, and they still don’t understand even when I painstakingly translate into French! But trying to listen all day in a language which is not your mother tongue is so exhausting, as I was reminded the other day when I had to listen to an hour and a half long staff meeting in French. Mind you I felt well chuffed because I sort of understood, but still, for the last half hour my poor brain was exhausted by the intense listening required to make sense of a foreign language. Its amazing that they actually ever do follow my lessons, they are very clever, the whole lot of them and they inspire me to keep on trying.

I remember reading a quote from a vso volunteer when they had finished who compared doing vso to a garden. You may prepare the soil and plant the seeds but the flowers will grow long after you have left...

Learning about thousands, hundreds, tens and ones using bottle tops.

Making numbers using arrow cards. Can't believe that plantain leaves worked so well for making them. I'll think plantain leaves are the most useful thing ever.

Counting using bottle top beadstrings

Measuring the length of plantain leaves

Bottle tops everywhere!
 Senior 4's work on 'why do teachers ask questions?' Why indeed.

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