Monday, March 5, 2007

The finishing touch

As mentioned in an earlier blog, an opportunity arose for my third graders to write to second grade pen pals back in America. So far it has been a success. The students here have written the students back home twice now with the second round of letters due to arrive later in the week. Students here were very excited to receive their first round of letters this past week. They were even more excited to receive pictures of some of their pen pals. Hopefully students will continue to write back and forth and the experience will be a memorable one for all. Hopefully this will be one thing that I will be able to leave behind.

Making it happen

It is hard to believe that two months have come and gone so quickly. It has been a challenge and a blessing to learn and adapt to a new school environment. It is amazing coming from an American perspective how a school with few resources can provide an atmosphere for learning.

Students do not have their own text books and thus have to share school copies. Also they often have to borrow pencils and erasers from their classmates. Teachers if they wish to make photo copies need to pay. In addition, teachers have limited access to the Internet to supplement their teaching while also lacking other technological resources to help aid their student’s learning.

As in any school, some students are left behind because they either learn at a slower pace, lack concentration, or are simply are not given enough attention. However it is evident that many students at Christ the King can learn in this type of environment where there is one teacher teaching to a class of 45 students. For example, most of the students in third grade can read and comprehend literature at a high forth grade/low fifth grade level. From my perspective, it is amazing how a school make so much with so little.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Athlete or teacher?

Ever since I mentioned to both of my classes that this would be my last week teaching, most of the students have started to show different emotions. At the end of one class, a boy named Allen began crying. Many of the students have asked me when I am planning to come back or if I could change my plane ticket to stay longer and teach. Some of my third grade students have even written me thank you cards!

During free time, countless students have asked me if I can give them my home address, email address, and phone number so that they can keep in touch. Not feeling comfortable giving my phone number out to the students, I have been supplying them with the other two. So this week I have felt like an ‘athlete’ being surrounded by students giving out my ‘autograph’. It is truly amazing as to how much a teacher can impact his or her students.

A different perspective

The nature of student teaching is to recognize your strengths and identify areas for improvement. Having others observe you help bring about these about. Over the past week, I was observed on three occasions by a professor here in Ghana. His feedback was very interesting and not exactly what I expected to here.

As I have noted earlier in my observations, schools and teaching here are definitely different than back in the U.S. so I guess I should have anticipated that some of his comments would sound a little weird to me. A few of his comments for areas for improvement include not putting my pen behind my ear while teaching because it can be intimidating to students, to erase my writing on the chalk board an eraser instead of with my hand, and not writing dark enough on the chalkboard. I guess that I was expecting different comments on my teaching style.

A tale of two classes

Both of my third grade classes could not have turned out any different from each other. One of my classes turned out to be truly amazing while the other has been a constant struggle. The first class was everything a teacher could ask for - eager to learn, asking questions when something did not make sense, always performing well on class work, homework, and tests, and being well behaved. The other class was quite the opposite by constantly talking, moving throughout the room, doing poorly on their work, and not really showing any desire to learn.

As a teacher, I feel responsible for a class that lacks discipline and is too active. It has kept forced me to stay patient and try different teaching techniques. I have learned that teaching is a craft that needs constant molding.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Approaching the last week

Only one full week of teaching remains here at Christ the King. Although I have not yet told the students that next week will be my last, some students are starting to sense that my time here is drawing to an end. I think that since I brought my camera to the school yesterday to start capturing some of the priceless images, I tipped off the students that I will soon be leaving. As is usual with children, they are often ready and eager to pose for the camera.

Tomorrow at school, the students will remain at home as their parents are invited to come to see their student's work and to chat with their student's respective teachers. While I have only met a few of the parents thus far, I am looking forward to meet many more of them tomorrow.

This week in English class, I introduced descriptive adjectives (i.e. The large building was built in 1890). Next week we will discuss adjectives of quantity (i.e. There are four car driving on the road). This week in math class, we wrapped up a two week unit on time. Students can now tell time on non digital clocks and can also solve problems that ask how many minutes are between two different times (i.e. If I fell asleep at 5:15 and woke up at 6:05, how many minutes did I sleep for?) Next week the students will begin a unit on counting money.

It is setting in that time here is winding down. As you can imagine there have been many friendship formed with the students and other teachers which will make the good-byes hard to encounter.

Monday, February 12, 2007

An international school

As I continue to learn more about the students and school, some early conceptions that I had of the school have proven to be false. I initially thoughts that many of the students here would have been students who grew up around the neighborhood of the school. I thought this because after talking to my host parents shortly after arriving, they mentioned how hard it is for a Ghanaian to travel to the U.S. or other parts of the non-African world.

However after talking with many of the students here, I have realized that this is not the case. Many students here were either born in the U.S. or the U.K. and have parents still working in those countries. However as you can imagine, it is quite expensive to raise a child in these countries with paying for clothes, food, and education. So often when children are old enough to attend kindergarten (or KG as they call it here), children are flown back here to Ghana and raised by their grandparents. To serve as an example, my host parents are currently raising two of their own grandchildren.

Once students are old enough to attend college, students permitted that they receive a Visa apply to colleges in the U.S. or U.K. to receive their higher education.

This school also has an international flavor since four different languages are taught here. The official langauge of Ghana is English so most classes are taught in English. Students also learn French 3 days a week along with Twi (pronounced Tree) and Ga, two local dialects.

I have also learned that this school, Christ the King International, is well respected as one of the top five schools in the country!