I just finished up the CBT (community based training) portion of pre-service training. As I said in my previous blog post, I worked at a primary school in Mayenzere. I will give everyone a brief description of the school that I taught at.
- The school caters to grades Pre-K through 7th.
- There are approximately 300 students in the school.
- There are 11 teachers, one secretary and one janitor.
- The largest class is the 1st grade class with 50 students. Yea 50 first graders all in the same classroom with one teacher. She was amazing to say the least.
- The upper grade classrooms (4th-7th) are split by grade and the teachers move from class to class throughout the day, teaching different grade levels.
- School runs from 7am-12:50pm with eight 40 min class periods and one 30 min break between 4th and 5th period.
- Over one-third of the students are orphans or vulnerable children. This means that either they are homeless or live with a single parent. Many of these students slept outside every night, ate a meal every other day, wore the same outfit everyday, and had one pencil about the size of a golf pencil.
- The kids are more respectful and motivated than any student I witnessed or worked with in America.
My experience during CBT was incredible. I slept in a mud hut, washed myself out of a bucket with a cup, washed my clothes out of the same bucket, chased chickens and pigs away from my hut on a daily basis, and spent a good portion of my time reflecting on my life and the many things that I took for granted back in the states. I learned many things from my host family about life in Kvango. The four weeks I spent there all had the same routine.
- 6am wake up, eat breakfast- usually a piece of bread and an apple
- 7am school starts, I usually taught one to two classes a day. I mostly taught with the 7th graders in English, but I also spent some of my time teaching math to both 6th and 7th graders.
- 12:50 school ends, we sit with our principal and debrief about the day, things we did well and things we need to work on.
- Go home and eat lunch.
- Sleep for about and hour.
- 3pm Kwangali language class.
- 4pm go home help wash the dishes and cook (when they would let me). Being male they did not let me help out very often unless I asked about five times.
- Dinner usually was eaten around 7 or once it got dark out and we ate under the stars almost every night.
- Bath before bed. We realized about a week into CBT that the water heats up during the day so instead of taking freezing bucket baths in the morning you could take warm baths at night.
- Go to bed around 9-9:30 then wake up and do it again.
I learned a lot about how to teach in Africa and what is different from teaching in the states. First of all, my accent is hard to understand. I didn’t think that I had a tough accent but apparently Midwest is one that children in Namibia don’t hear very often. To compensate for this I had to speak extremely slow and repeat myself many times. Another aspect of teaching that I learned was that since many of them are not the strongest English speakers, they didn’t ask questions because they couldn’t form the questions so they would sit there, not understanding what I was talking about. This was the biggest struggle I had to deal with. After a couple days I caught on and started to change how I approached the daily lessons. I spent more time asking them to volunteer to explain and come up to the front of class and explain the concept before moving on. The kids were very receptive to this strategy and I think they learned more after I changed my teaching style. All in all, this was a great experience and I learned so much about myself as a teacher and how it will be teaching in Namibia for the next two years. I hope everyone is doing well back in America wherever you are. I should have more reliable internet for the next two weeks so if you have any comments or questions I can do my best to answer them when I get the chance.