Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Another morning at school

Yesterday I went to help at the school up the road. When I arrived I found half the teachers were missing because they were attending a ten-day seminar on something or other, or on leave or sick. No one was deputising because there would be a shortage of teachers in the area and anyway, locums or relief teachers don't seem to exist here.  The kids who had bothered to turn up mostly seemed to be pleasing themselves what they did, apart from the older ones who did at least appear to be having lessons.

All these seminars and conferences and workshops that the teachers attend - it's great in one way if they do actually develop the teachers' skills but I'm not overly convinced they do. And the curriculums seem stuck in the 19thC so what's the point? Personally I wonder if it's politically motivated - the education department can show that they're really investing effort in this zone - the zone in which the President has a personal interest. Whatever, even after the conferences the teachers seem to need to get paperwork signed to approve their absences - and that takes more time. It affects attendance at my afternoon classes and some teachers either turn up late or don't appear at all.

Back at the school... I found one child with a box of matches and took it off him. It made no difference - other kids had matches too. Maybe they were allowed to because some were gathering up leaves and burning them behind the buildings!  I suppose it's a case of Darwinism in action - if they get injured or killed then they weren't 'fit'. Oh God! I questioned a teacher about it and she looked at me as if I was mad!

I checked the schedule of the teacher I was meant to be helping and tried to substitute for her. My first class had one child in it (there are normally two). All credit to him, the lad stayed and put in a good effort with his double period of English Grammar practice.

In the other lessons I had varying degrees of success (that's a euphemism for considerable degrees of failure). I was barely able to control some classes which, I suppose, is hardly surprising when they can't understand me and when the accepted alternative is to run around madly outside or do nothing. But, with some, I was disappointed with myself for not being able to exert any discipline. I had a few better moments, sure, like when I got some of them doing action songs, but mostly they were running riot. I can't even say that my presence was better than nothing - they tend to get very noisy when I'm around which if great when it's under control, a disaster when it's not, and must be distracting for other classes. Oh well, chalk it down to experience... maybe I need an emergency strategy like a set of fun classroom activities, but I also need to learn what to do when kids are going beserk.

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