Mr. Richard is glad to oblige and gives me my teaching schedule. I’ll teach 3 classes plus help with PE for Grades 1& 2. Woops, looks like I’ve already hung out too long with the other teachers in the Teachers’ Lounge and missed my first period. No problem, we’re on Africa-time: “just start the same schedule with 2nd period”. “Where do I find the lessons?” Mr. Richard then finds me the course books and explains that with exams next week they are just doing “revision” (i.e., review). “What do you suggest for English 3?” As I query him on each class, he provides the rookie with suggestions.
Grade 3 – English
With the 3rd graders we review articles (“a” vs. “an”), discuss vowels vs. consonants, use of “some” vs. “any”, examples of opposites ….then I give them a short quiz on the blackboard with 4 problems out of the course book (“which word doesn’t belong in this list”). They bring their exercise books up to me for correction as they finish. A few get them all correct and are so excited. But by the end the class is in a bit of an uproar. I have utterly flunked the correction process. I put red checkmarks by incorrect answers. Afterward the teachers explain to me that a red “x” means “incorrect”, a red check goes next to each correct answer. Then the score is written at the top along with the date and a word of encouragement (“excellent”, “good”, “average”). Well, I can learn, too.
Next period -- Science for Grade 2
With the second graders I read from their course book about health issues (when and how to wash hands, wash meat, how to cook meat, etc.), identification of animals (domesticated vs. wild, which are harmful and why), then I test them from book questions on filtration. Many of them are so diligent as to rewrite their incorrect answers and resubmit them to me. I’m beginning to think I’m getting this down!
Next up: 4th Grade CRE
Our lesson is about “Abilities and Responsibility” and is based on the parable of the 3 servants and their different investment schemes (2 doubled their master’s money and the 3rd just buried it). We talked about how each of us is special and important, none are more important before God. “Each of us has skills, abilities, talents – what are some of yours?” The students mention praying, biking, reading, washing clothes and acknowledge each of them. We talk about how each skill is important and should be developed and can be used to help others. (I like the character-building in this government religious ethics curriculum.) I close with a quiz.
PE? Hmm! I never did figure out when, where or how I was to do PE, but it is obviously not worrying anyone.
As the school day ends, Michael is sitting in 4th Grade and has the students telling stories.
“I saw a mango tree and I wanted very much to get a mango off that tree, but there was a dog and a cat guarding that tree and in the house, 2 men sitting by the window. A little ways beyond the tree was the river. What to do?
I knew the dog’s name was “gubabalu” so I picked up a stone and threw it in the river. It made the sound “gubabalu” and the dog heard it and ran toward the river. I was afraid the cat would cry if I went to the tree that that the cry would bring the dog back, so I threw another stone into the window of the house. When the window broke, the men went “tsk, tsk, tsk” and the cat thought they were calling it and ran toward the house. Now I could get my mango.”
“The River Crossing”
“I had to carry 3 things across the river: a goat, a hyena and a bag of potatoes, but I had to be careful that the hyena didn’t eat the goat or the goat eat the potatoes, so…
1. I carried the goat across first. The hyena was not going to eat any potatoes.
2. Then, I carried the potatoes over but brought back the goat so he wouldn’t eat any.
3. Next, I carried over the hyena (quickly, so he didn't bother the goat), leaving him with the potatoes
4. Finally, I could carry over the goat and continue on my way.”
Often as the school day ends, the third or fourth grade students are asked to sweep out all of the rooms of the office building and school rooms and today they also wet down the new school room floors (they are made of a mix of dirt and sand called marram). They do so as a team, diligently, without any hesitation or complaining. Maybe we should incorporate chores into our school day in the U.S. -- could be character-building!?
And then it’s time for the closing assembly: Mr. Richard gathers all the students under the shade tree and exhorts them to be ready for exams and to be at school on-time, and encourages them that if they work hard they will all be Achievers.