Friday, July 22, 2011

Internship teaching

Today was my first day of “internship” teaching.  I teach first period and I teach block periods.  So, that means I get two 40 minute classes right in a row.  I prefer this method of teaching as it allows me to teach more in one day.  I have 74 students in my class, but today, only about 50 or so came to class.  The teacher I am replacing is away on maternity leave, so the student’s haven’t had English for quite a while.  I’m not entirely sure where they left off, so I figured it can’t hurt just to start over.  It’s better than nothing, which is what they have had since May.  The class didn’t go great, but it was my first day.  They need to adjust to my accent, which to them is very funny.  Even though class starts at 8:00, class didn’t even get started until about 8:15 for various reasons.  Their morning assembly ended five minutes late.  Then, my classroom doesn’t have enough desks for students.  The students go to neighboring classes to “borrow” desks from students who have study hall.  By the time all the desks get arranged, it’s another 10 minutes.  I double checked with another Tanzanian teacher to make sure the students weren’t just wasting time, but this is really what happens.  Then, throughout my class, the student’s who have had their desks borrowed, drop into my classroom to search for their desk to find notebooks they need.  The classes don’t have windows per se, so the outside noise is hard for me to talk over.  On top of that, the sun reflects off my blackboard, so it’s hard for my students to see my notes.  Overall, the student’s behavior wasn’t that bad.  There were a group of boys who were a little chatty, but what can you expect from a group of 15 year olds?  Tanzania practices corporal punishment, although I won’t use that discipline action in my classroom.  I have about 5-10 students who enjoy English and are very smart.  They are a breath of fresh air.  Some other trainees are struggling with the challenges of teaching here, as am I.  But, I think I am a little more accustomed to student’s staring blankly at me as I teach to them in English.  Peace Corps and the Tanzanian system is really encouraging us to be interactive. It’s really hard without technology.  This week, Jon and I get interviews on where we would like to be placed in Tanzania.  Hopefully, they take into serious consideration what we request.  We’re requesting to teach lower level secondary school (8th – 11th grade), living in a non-humid climate, be within one day’s travel of another Peace Corps volunteer, running water, and not replace a volunteer whose shoes will be really hard to fill.  Our schedule tells us that we will learn where we are placed in the beginning of August, though Peace Corps staff is trying to let us know beforehand.  We’re all dying to know where the next two years of our lives will be.  

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