As most of you know, I am helping teacher Juliet here at Acheru. I thought I would write a post about what teaching is like here compared to teaching in America.
Teaching has been one of the areas that I find to be more frustrating than anything else here. It's not that I find things to be wrong here, but it is more of a shift in how to teach here. Back home in America it is ingrained in our heads as teachers to have the students be interactive during class. Answering questions, figuring out answers for themselves, having hands-on activities. Now with the common core in the states the students are pretty much to become the teachers. They are expected to be involved in their own learning and if we as teachers are not implementing the students into the learning than we are "doing it wrong".
Here in Uganda, not only is the curriculum something to get used to (there is no phonics…for those of you who know how much I love teaching phonics!), but the style of teaching is different. Different…not wrong…just different. It has been very hard for me to put aside my western idea of what schooling is and turn more into a Ugandan way of teaching. Here students very much copy and repeat. There is not a whole lot of interaction within the classroom. For me this is very hard. For the first couple of weeks I found myself being very bored with the lessons because it was me standing up saying something, having the kids copy it, and then repeat it. We worked on one subject the whole day. On the spot I was having to think of how to teach writing for 4/5 hours. I found this extremely difficult, but at the same time I was there observing and building a relationship with teacher Juliet and did not want to offend her in anyway.
Recently Teacher Juliet has given me reigns to work with the primary kids. It has given me an opportunity to mix the western and the Ugandan way of teaching. At first the kids were a little unsure of what to do when I asked them to interact or gave them positive reinforcement. After a few lessons on what a "high-five" is and being overally dramatic about them the students really began finding encouragement from it. So much so that after everything they do they now lift their hands in the air waiting for a high-five and give the biggest smiles after they receive their high-five. It's been a good way to show Juliet a little of what teaching in America is like, and how we can combine the two styles.
The other day we went through all the teaching materials together and talked about how we could use in class. She has observed me using marbles to play the "scoop and count" game with the kids (they just put their hands in the bag, grab as many marbles as they can, and then they have to count how many are in their hands). She has observed me using puzzles to teach kids letters. She has seen me doing multiple subjects in a day spending 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there on a subject. It's a big shift for the both of us, but I am praying that since our friendship is growing that we will be able to work together and combine our teaching styles. To use both of our strengths to give the kids the best education they can get here.
On a side note (my teacher friends will feel my pain on this…): Planning here at Acheru is very difficult. It is almost impossible to plan a day ahead. With the kids constantly coming and going from the hospital, you never know who will be in class. One day I may have 3 or 4 students and the next day I may have no students. Or one day I have a student who speaks some English, and the next day I'm there with students who speak no English. It is definitely teaching me to be very flexible and spontaneous.
1. That the relationship between teacher Juliet and I will continue to grow and that we will be able to learn from one another.
2. That I have patience and appreciation for the days where I find frustration with the differences of schooling.
3. I am leaving on Monday to travel around Southwest Uganda (to Kassese..a town near the border of Uganda and Congo). Pray for safe travels and for the places we are going to visit. On another side note….I'm going on a safari then too!
4. For all the kids here at Acheru and the ones not able to come. We have a very long backlog of kids needing to come here. With limited bedding we are not able to house all the kids who need to come here. We have had to become more picky with who can come. Making sure the more severe cases get sent first.
One day we brought the kites out for the kids
Nancy was a pro!
Elijah and Colin playing "Scoop and Count"
The kids interacting and teaching.
Juliet preparing her lesson.