Peaks and Troughs

The schools are coming to a close this week so I thought I would post a quick message about how it has been progressing.

I have been having serious problems at one of my schools brushing me aside. I have been asking the teachers to list areas they particularly want help with on a request sheet which up until today (the last day I am at this school until next term) has gone untouched. I ask the principle for brief meetings to go over different functions of the school, he agrees and doesn't show up to school or he comes to the meeting but is easily distracted and strays from the task at hand.

This last week I thought I had broken through to the other side. One of the foundation teachers approached me to help them teach numeracy lessons. It was exactly the sort of thing I want to do much, much more. The South African government has supplied this school with a good deal of resources that are not used. For example each of the foundation (grades 1-3) teachers get a big set of foam shapes, counters, dice, and the like to help teach numeracy as well as a guide book that is basically a recipe of how to run the activity. I was more than happy to go through the book and it seemed like the teachers got something out of it.

I was also able to hold a meeting with the principle where I basically forced him to sit down and tell me the things I needed to know. If he didn't know the things I needed to know I got my answer anyway. I thought he understood at that point that I don't care how behind he is or what he thinks I might think, I just want to get an idea of what needs improvement and if I can do anything about it. It is of no use hiding something from me.

Unfortunately, this week has gone back to the ways of the past. The meeting with the parents and SGB (PTA-ish) that I was told would be held this week was not scheduled. Moreover, since exams are over with at this point there is absolutely nothing going on in the school. School technically ends tomorrow but most learners haven't been showing up and those that do goof off until lunch is provided and then go home. I cannot blame them, I would do the same thing. It makes it seem like the point of school is exams and that once those are over, school has lost its purpose.

The other school I help with is usually a lot more in tune with how I work and is much better about keeping me updated. It has had its fair share of canceled meetings and unscheduled appointments but I am still usually kept in the loop. This week things kind of fell apart too. My plans for Monday were completely dashed when all the things I requested for the day weren't done. As a Plan B, I focused on organizing the storage room since I couldn't find anything in there and it would be useful to do an inventory. I also just wanted to shut my brain off and lift things. It is looking a lot nicer in there but I need to send a memo to keep it that way.

On a positive note, the middle school invited me to their report card ceremony today, which I was more than happy to attend. The middle school runs quite well and I think the primary schools can learn something from the principle there. I really only need to go there in my capacity as a science resource.

There was a fair showing of parents for the meeting. There was, of course, an itemized agenda for the meeting as well as a school financial budget for the year and the report cards for the students. At the end there were awards given out to certain students for academics and sports. Certificate go over pretty well here so it is an easy way to bolster confidence. I was employed at this time to hand out the awards which I did with grace. It can be confusing but you give the awards with the left and shake with the right. I almost dropped an award but recovered in time. I then assumed I would "be given the opportunity to speak" for which I was prepared this time. I was even going to open with a joke, "You all clap like the people back home clap" (pulled from Rambling Jack Elliot). I mean that would have killed. Then I was going to launch into the importance of parent involvement in education and to not be complacent about their role, really golden stuff. But to my surprise I was not called upon. I was certainly ok with it though, I'll just put that opening joke in my pocket for another day.


I took this picture before the meeting started. Many more people came throughout. Trying to get people in my village to smile is like pulling teeth. In fact next time you are pulling out someone's teeth say to yourself this is like getting a Tswana to smile for a photo, it will be funny. I think the lady in the corning was smiling because of my inability to make anyone smile.
Socks and Underwear: Peaks and Troughs

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peaks and Troughs

The schools are coming to a close this week so I thought I would post a quick message about how it has been progressing.

I have been having serious problems at one of my schools brushing me aside. I have been asking the teachers to list areas they particularly want help with on a request sheet which up until today (the last day I am at this school until next term) has gone untouched. I ask the principle for brief meetings to go over different functions of the school, he agrees and doesn't show up to school or he comes to the meeting but is easily distracted and strays from the task at hand.

This last week I thought I had broken through to the other side. One of the foundation teachers approached me to help them teach numeracy lessons. It was exactly the sort of thing I want to do much, much more. The South African government has supplied this school with a good deal of resources that are not used. For example each of the foundation (grades 1-3) teachers get a big set of foam shapes, counters, dice, and the like to help teach numeracy as well as a guide book that is basically a recipe of how to run the activity. I was more than happy to go through the book and it seemed like the teachers got something out of it.

I was also able to hold a meeting with the principle where I basically forced him to sit down and tell me the things I needed to know. If he didn't know the things I needed to know I got my answer anyway. I thought he understood at that point that I don't care how behind he is or what he thinks I might think, I just want to get an idea of what needs improvement and if I can do anything about it. It is of no use hiding something from me.

Unfortunately, this week has gone back to the ways of the past. The meeting with the parents and SGB (PTA-ish) that I was told would be held this week was not scheduled. Moreover, since exams are over with at this point there is absolutely nothing going on in the school. School technically ends tomorrow but most learners haven't been showing up and those that do goof off until lunch is provided and then go home. I cannot blame them, I would do the same thing. It makes it seem like the point of school is exams and that once those are over, school has lost its purpose.

The other school I help with is usually a lot more in tune with how I work and is much better about keeping me updated. It has had its fair share of canceled meetings and unscheduled appointments but I am still usually kept in the loop. This week things kind of fell apart too. My plans for Monday were completely dashed when all the things I requested for the day weren't done. As a Plan B, I focused on organizing the storage room since I couldn't find anything in there and it would be useful to do an inventory. I also just wanted to shut my brain off and lift things. It is looking a lot nicer in there but I need to send a memo to keep it that way.

On a positive note, the middle school invited me to their report card ceremony today, which I was more than happy to attend. The middle school runs quite well and I think the primary schools can learn something from the principle there. I really only need to go there in my capacity as a science resource.

There was a fair showing of parents for the meeting. There was, of course, an itemized agenda for the meeting as well as a school financial budget for the year and the report cards for the students. At the end there were awards given out to certain students for academics and sports. Certificate go over pretty well here so it is an easy way to bolster confidence. I was employed at this time to hand out the awards which I did with grace. It can be confusing but you give the awards with the left and shake with the right. I almost dropped an award but recovered in time. I then assumed I would "be given the opportunity to speak" for which I was prepared this time. I was even going to open with a joke, "You all clap like the people back home clap" (pulled from Rambling Jack Elliot). I mean that would have killed. Then I was going to launch into the importance of parent involvement in education and to not be complacent about their role, really golden stuff. But to my surprise I was not called upon. I was certainly ok with it though, I'll just put that opening joke in my pocket for another day.


I took this picture before the meeting started. Many more people came throughout. Trying to get people in my village to smile is like pulling teeth. In fact next time you are pulling out someone's teeth say to yourself this is like getting a Tswana to smile for a photo, it will be funny. I think the lady in the corning was smiling because of my inability to make anyone smile.

2 Comments:

Blogger presco said...

I love your blogs and pictures.

December 13, 2009 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Bacon said...

Agree with previous statement.

Also, can you take more pictures? And bigger?

January 4, 2010 at 11:45 AM  

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