Thursday, February 11, 2010

Education Major...?

Jan 11

Today was the first of our teaching days, and I think it went well, although I am finding that I have a hard time being creative with the material we are presenting. I am grateful for the Elementary Ed. majors because they are used to teaching the things we are teaching and have learned about creative methods. I also do not know many songs about the material we are presenting, either, and if I did I would feel more fulfilled, being the Music Ed. major of the group. The content I am used to teaching is so different.

I feel like I have been out of teacher mode, too, for a while now, and today was a warm-up day for me to get back into that persona. I felt pretty discouraged most of the teaching time, but that is simply because my resources are limited and my creativity feels limited as a result. Having the El. Ed. majors share ideas in prep times has been extremely valuable. I know that this experience is an adjustment from teaching children in the States, though, and the language barrier is an extra element of challenge.

Overall, though, today was a good day. I don't think James (my teaching partner) and I had any moments where we ran out of things to do with the kids, but starting off and ending were definitely the hardest moments. Our first group (a class of first graders) was very shy and spoke significantly less English than we anticipated, so we were slow to get off the ground. Our last group (a class of 3rd graders) was a group of three kids (since it was the first day back after Christmas break, attendance was low that day), and we went through our activities much more quickly than with the other classes. Our other 3rd grade class was very rambunctious and less disciplined than the others. I think it was also our biggest group. They ended up splitting into girls following me and boys following James. It is more cultural for girls to be with girls and boys to be with boys. It worked, even though we hadn't planned for that to happen.

I feel like there is no way we will be able to learn all of our students' names by the end of our time here. When we ask for their names, they usually whisper both their first and last names, and we have no idea where each one begins and ends because we are not familiar with Amharic names. When we mumble their names back to them, they are afraid to correct us so they affirm us instead with a humble "yes" even though we know we are not saying it right. It is really hard. I do think teaching will go well, though, and I think they are learning even though they are learning in a completely new style.

All my classes, first through third grade:

Today I realized that even though I love the food here, I really miss being able to go out and buy junkfood. Most of all I am missing candy! One of my housemates has a bag of precious Swedish Fish, which we are rationing. When I come back to the States I am going to buy a bag of Swedish Fish and eat them all in one day. Definitely. I am also going to make a Bosco Stick run at the BP in Upland. I really don't like that I have such an attachment to those things, but it's my culture.

Another thing that happened today was that the memorial service that Randall had informed me that we would be singing at on Tuesday was moved to today! I found out within minutes of us needing to leave, and we quickly picked out two songs and got on the bus. I didn't even have a moment to make myself all nervous by thinking about it too much. :) The name of the game in Ethiopia, though, is FLEX POWDER, which is our imaginary dietary supplement that helps us be flexible while we are here. Ethiopia's concept of time is very different from our Western view of time. I like it so much more most of the time because I generally feel less pressure.

Afterschool, I volunteered to type some teachers' exams. It felt good to be able to help them out in that way because we were able to put our daily exposure to computers in America to use. The challenge was reading their handwriting, understanding what exactly they were trying to ask, and correcting their grammar without changing the meaning/wording of their questions.

Finding time to spend reading my Bible and praying has been really hard because we have been very busy and we are tired from the busyness by the end of the day (I am falling asleep as I write this). There are no excuses, though, because life is always going to be tiring and busy. I am definitely not as busy here ad I am at Taylor or will be in real life. I should be able to carve out time & prioritize here, especially.

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