Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 18, 2015

Today has been incredible. We got to see the Akatim Village School in action for he first time and it has been so inspiring. Lauren and I spent the day going from classroom to classroom to observe the students and teachers in action. 

We started with "Stage 1," which is just first grade. The teacher was teaching the students about length, capacity, and mass, which I just finished teaching my class a couple of months ago. 

In Stage  2, I was nerdishly excited to see that the kids were learning 3-digit addition using expanded form. People need to know that even in these tiny, remote African villages, students are learning all the modern-day skills we teach our children in the United States!

The Stage 3 teacher was lots of fun. He was teaching 4-letter words, which I thought was a little easy but then I remembered English is not their first language! Twi is the most commonly spoken language in Ghana, but nearly everyone speaks English and the students are taught English starting in kindergarten. 

We visited a few other classes and truly enjoyed watching the teachers. They are enthusiastic, and you can tell that most of them love what they do. I realized that I am of course observing these teachers from the perspective of a teacher trained in the United States, so I kept comparing the teaching to what I would be expected to do. I looked for the whole "I Do, We Do, You Do" mindset, but most teachers used a traditional lecture format. The students responded well to it, too. If I tried to teach that way in my classroom, there's no way it would work. Students in the US have gotten used to engaging, hands-on, task-based learning. This isn't a bad thing, but it's exhausting for the teacher. It was different to see students sitting there, focused on what their teachers were saying, learning whatever it is they need to be learning, all because that's their responsibility. There were no bribes or rewards involved; the kids were intrinsically motivated. 

Our last class of the day was KG (kindergarten) 1. Oh my goodness. There are almost 30 kids in the class, so they get to have two teachers all the time. These teachers were phenomenal! They were so much fun to watch! They were singing and dancing and laughing the whole time. What stuck out the most was that they each had a baby with them. In Ghana, teachers bring their babies to school! They wear them on their backs so that they're close and secure, but also so that they realize that they are not mom's top priority. I love this philosophy. I love that the teachers didn't have to choose between their families and their jobs. They just wore their babies, nursed them when they needed to, put them down for naps when they needed to, and it was no big deal. The students didn't think anything of it. I think I'm going to move to Ghana. :)

More tomorrow!

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