Jan 13, 2010

School limps into gear

So school offically started on Monday, though the learners didn't show up until Wednesday. Monday was spent throwing together some lesson plans, which consists of copying the relevant material out of the course schedule (the document that details what is supposed to be taught when according to the law). These will bear only a passing resemblance to what is actually taught--and that's probably a good thing, as most of the time the learners are not remotely ready for what is laid out in the work schedule.

Apparently the high school in the next village bombed the matric test (4/25 passing), so on Tuesday a guy from the Department of Education--an Afrikaner who knew a little bit of Setswana, no less--stopped by to read us the riot act. This was frankly refreshing, as it seemed to put the teachers and especially the new acting principal (who used to be the head teacher) in a productive mood. That same day they put me down in the intermediate phase for this first term (grades 4-6--I used to be helping grades 7-9). This seems a bit silly as I know math and science ten times better than any of the other teachers, but on the other hand I'm being replaced with the best teacher in the school and now I get my own classroom, with my own lockable filing cabinet, posters on the walls I can keep maintained, etc.

The other issue with the change is that grade 4 is where everything is supposed to be taught in English, but as the kids don't really get much practice in English they have no bloody idea what I'm talking about. However painful this might be at first, I think it's going to be great for their English and my Setswana also (the latter especially).

The first day, though we started late and ended early, went better than any day I have seen thus far at my school. Every teacher was in the classroom, and I saw all of them teaching at least a little bit. I think this is mostly due to the new principal, who mentioned specifically that educators were not supposed to be in the staffroom during class unless they have some copying or something to do. I was pleasantly surprised at the abilities of the intermediate phase (especially grades 5-6), and managed to teach a few half-decent lessons with a combination of English and broken Setswana. I'll say I'm cautiously optimistic about the new year. Hooray for 2010!

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