I have been back to school since yesterday. The teachers all start a few days ahead to prepare for school reopening on the 13th. I was actually quite pleased to go back. There isn't as much preparation as I would have thought but there are slivers of it here and there. Really it is mostly cleaning, some learners and some parents come in and give the school a good once over. It is certainly needed but I wouldn't say it is top priority. Things do get a little overgrown and dusty but that doesn't really make it impossible to teach. Not having a plan of action for what you are teaching though makes it sort of difficult. So I spent most of my time prepping for my Natural Science class, which I am excited about. I wasn't even sure I would be up to the task but I think that it will do just as much for my sanity as it will for making the Natural Science course understandable.
Along with my taking on the Science course (only for Grade 6), my goal was to revise the time table for the schools and to make sure they are followed. Both schools had some problems with their time tables which are basically the scheme of the subjects for the school throughout the day (Grade 4- Math then English then Lunch etc.). Along with that, there was also the subject allotment for the teachers. Not all teachers are suited for a specific subject but it would be nice to find ones that are at least mildly interested in the subject or know what they are doing. Additional problems were that in one school several teachers were responsible for 7 different subjects (out of a possible 9). In another school, some teachers were given the subjects that are very heavy in teaching time like English and Math. For example one teacher was technically supposed to be teaching all but three blocks throughout the week. One schedule had double blocks of subjects meaning 2 hours of Maths. It is hard enough to get people to pay attention to one hour of Maths, so that just wouldn't work. With some tinkering and lots of revision I was able to achieve a nice balance for everyone and make the schedule a little more approachable.
It was sort of just a challenge to make it before school ended. I was not really seeing it as a big fix for the school policy. Now I feel like I have actually done something because the schools are both making the changes in their schedules and I think it will be a step in the right direction for the schools to be more efficient and effective. There are some concerns and I get the feeling that some teachers are reluctant to change but I think the shake-up will be good for everyone. Having a solid routing is important and I hope we can stick to it. Having the schedule in place does not mean people will follow it, I became aware of the last year as I would often be misled as to who was actually teaching what subject at what time despite the schedule in place. I had a short talk with one school on the merits of respecting time in school and enjoying "Africa time" outside of school. They really like that "Africa time" part, they thought it was hilarious. At least they are aware that they the are not very time conscious.
In other news I had a very eventful walk home from school today. I saw a meercat, which makes the second meercat over all. Both times, I thought it was just a mere cat (WORDPLAY!!!!!!!!!) but then I realized no one out here owns house cats and I then see it a little closer and it is definitely a meercat. Cute little devils. I also saw a couple of donkeys fighting which was shocking and entertaining. I believe it is donkey mating season and these two male donkeys were just headbutting the bejesus out of each other while the female donkeys sort of trotted around in a circle. They are loud too, donkeys are really loud, don't let anyone tell you different. It was a spectacle, I actually stopped to watch it. Few things would make me stop in the South African sun instead of hustling home to shed my teacher uniform and sit in front of my fan, one of those things is a donkey battle.