I’m not sure if Africa could possibly throw anymore emotions at me during my last month. The past few weeks, I’ve had major ups and downs. After hitting a low point at service two weeks ago, the one thing that got me through was prayer. Last week, I had two papers of my own and about 200 to grade at school. I have a new found respect for English and History teachers because of the massive amounts of reading involved in grading.
Last Tuesday, I taught all my classes again after a week of strictly grading and a week of student teachers. I gave my 8th and 9th graders part of their final “research” for the semester. South Africa is implementing a ‘learn from your ancestors’ initiative in schools. This process is being started with interview practice. For 40 points of their final, my 8th and 9th grade will be conducting peer interviews. The 9th graders are writing about mentors in their classrooms and the 8th graders will be writing about whether students’ parents have rules for dating. The ‘mentors’ in classrooms previously mentioned are learners who get especially good grades and are essentially openly adopted as teachers’ pets. Some students think it is unfair and some think the class mentor helps keep the classroom under control (maybe due to the fact that classes don’t always have teachers in them).
My 5th grade lesson in life skills last week was on bias, discrimination, and stereotyping. They understand me so well that when I started trying to describe discrimination in regards to race, they thought I was talking about running… good ol’ English… FAIL. The 5th graders at least now have compassion for me and seem to somewhat care about the class though!
The 6th grade reading club was amazing as always. I was so excited because I was able to bring new pencils for all my kids and THE RUGS for the library FINALLY!!!! It came time for reading club and the grounds keeper who usually lets me in couldn’t find the key. Though I’m still a bit worried about this misplacement, reading club had to meet. Without books, I once again had to think on my feet. I pulled 9 story dice out of my magical Mary Poppins bag and the kids went nuts. For some reason, they love the dice. For a half hour, we sat, rolling dice, and making up stories. One child rolls the die, makes a sentence from the picture rolled, the next person rolls the next die and adds to the first sentence, etc. The students loved the game.
When I told them I might not be there Thursday, it was the first time I had seen disappointment in the faces of my 20 children. They didn’t know at the time that the entire school was off on Thursday, but my favorite little Onwaba told me I can’t miss any days because I’m leaving soon enough already.
In the past couple weeks, my 6th graders have shown me nothing but love. They are absolutely amazing children who are now completely fluent English readers. I have assessed each one and the most stumbles one child had during her assessment was 3 small errors. She only needed to ask me 3 words and many didn’t need to ask me any!!!
My hope is that I will be able to put the rugs down in the library tomorrow, Tuesday. I only have about 4-6 days left with my kids so I’ve been trying to give each and every one as much attention as I can—they’re sure loving the camera!! Tomorrow I will begin poetry with my 8th and 9th graders which I will be sure to write about. I’m not quite sure if they’ve ever done poetry….we’ll see!!!