Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spelling Means Yelling

The schools of Mukono are finally back in session and the Muzungus are ready to get to work. We began our work with a local primary school, Crane Preparatory, on Wednesday and it was quite the experience. Crane invited our team to sit through an orientation of sorts and observe the classrooms to see where we would be most effective. I sat in on a P.2 class, which is about the equivalent of a second grade class in the U.S. The next day, we began our actual programs with the school, and to say it was a busy day is a huge understatement. In the mornings we work in the actual classrooms, and then in the afternoon we return to conduct the extracurricular activities. I will do my best to express what I have learned at Crane the past few days:
-When the P.2 practices spelling, they actually just yell the words as loud as they possibly can. It was awesome.
-When someone answers a question correctly the rest of the students “shower with flowers,” or in other words, they wiggle their fingers at the star student.
-P.7 classes are huge. One class contained 75 students.
-Despite the limited access to learning materials and teaching staff, the students are excited to learn.
-I can’t believe that I have ever complained about my schools in the United States. The classrooms that we work in are dilapidated brick buildings with dirt floors with a single chalkboard painted on the wall. The walls are covered with old charcoal stains and doodles from past students. It is so eye opening to see how these amazing children receive their education.
-Even though we are all speaking English, there have been some communication issues with the administration of the school. When we wanted to implement a tutoring program within the school, the teachers thought that we wanted to teach the actual curriculum so they left us in the classrooms with all of the students waiting to learn. It was a bit overwhelming. Hopefully we work out all of bumps by next week.
Despite the craziness that naturally occurs with a new program, it is such a privilege to work with these happy and loving students. We are working to organize the program to maximize effectiveness, but I believe that we will be able to create a lasting relationship with these schools in Mukono. I can’t wait to learn more from these students, even if it means shouting at spelling words with them all day long.

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