Marmite in Malawi!

30 08 2008

I have ended up posting twice today so there is another new post below this one!

Wednesday 16th July

It was bread again for breakfast this morning and I had had all of a sudden got a bit bored of it, especially when it was quite dry!  So as I usually ate breakfast by myself I was able to succomb and finally remember that I had bought marmite for this very purpose.  So I sneaked into my room and dipped my bread into it!

Kids were even later today as it was so cold but it was a nice opportunity to talk to the kids that were there.  Was in tears of laughter, again, with Mme Gwengwe as I decided, against my better judgement, that it would be a good idea to teach the little ones the hokey cokey since I was doing the scottish dancing with older ones.  We went into a classroom and I was teaching it to her with kids staring in at us in disbelief!

Children ticking themselves off on the time sheet as they arrive

Children ticking themselves off on the time sheet as they arrive

I got the children doing some star jumps and running on the spot etc during assembly to keep them warm as although they did clapping and singing they really needed something to warm them up.

St1 boy arriving at school, I loved the jacket!

St1 boy arriving, I loved the jacket

So not only did I do some language/phonics work in St1 and 2 but I also took them outside to learn the hokey cokey.  I am not one for singing in public, I have never done karaoke, won’t even sing a tune for people to work out what it is and definately do not like leading hymn practices in school at home but anything for a bit of fun there!  There was no way the pupils could do the singing as they were too young so it was just my voice ringing out!  Some more work in St3 after that and the children tried really hard with sounding out the words to help learn how to read them, it is just unfortunate that I could not explain to them the meaning!

Women hard at work again while were doing the hokey cokey

Women hard at work again while were doing the hokey cokey

Really enjoyed being in St6 and 7 after break.  Again they were doing english and Mr Kalivute had really wanted me to come in and support/see what he was doing.  He took on board everything I had said yesterday that was relevant to the older ones.  They had a passage in english with one picture and it was about a boy who was an orpan and living with his grandparents.  He worked hard at school etc and became able to open a clinic in his village and help others.  Mr Kalivute asked the children to work out clues from the title and the picture first and then read the story to them which was a good start although I had suggested just reading bits at a time and going over each in turn.  He had also put some words on the board to begin with that they may not understand and went over them. They then read in pairs and were trying to help each other understand it.  I went round hearing them read and they could read it well but again not sure what they were actually understanding although Mr Kalivute did try to do a little explaining in Chichewa.  As I was going round the children asked me how to say some words and that was easy enough but they also asked the meanings of words and that was harder.  They were all struggling with the same ones too so I suggested to Mr Kalivute that he go over these in Chichewa so he put them on the board and went over them.  I explained to him that a lot of children in p.7 in Scotland would not understand these words in English so how could these children understand them! 

The passage was really quite hard to understand and even with all of this extra input when he asked the comprehension questions there were not many that knew the answers.  He did though do as I had also suggested and give clues or say in what paragraph the answer was.  I probably still sound quite negative and although I felt while I was in the class it was all a bit hopeless I think in retrospect that in a very short time I had made a difference and there was a huge amount of progress made by this teacher in a very, very short space of time.  With the words that were on the board we did hangman and spelling the words on each others back which caused great hilarity…..again!  I seemed to spend most of my time with St6 and 7 laughing.  I proved to be very bad at working out which word was being spelled on my back!

The children did not really play at break times

The children did not really play at break times

I also went into St 4 and 5.  Mr Kaunda was away again and it was very frustrating having sorted out the teacher in St2 for there now to basically be one needed again! 

I did a Scottish session with St4, 5, 6 and 7 when the others went home.  I brought out everything that I had brought as gifts so calendars, teatowels and the like plus a lot of posters for the school of Scottish animals, flowers etc, the photos that I had brought and the letters, complete with photos that the p.6 class at home had done.  I explained all the pictures etc first and then put them out on desks and the children just went round looking at everything.  They loved the photos I had brought and the letters the most. 

Very strereotypical teatowels!

Very strereotypical teatowels!

We then had a question and answer session with Mr Kalivute translating.  I got a lot of questions about what food we grew and things like that.  They could not believe I had to go to the supermarket for all of my food and that I did not have a garden as I live in a flat.  They took a bit to understand about how it works living in a flat as they thought I must have to go into other peoples houses to get up to mine.  They also asked some political questions and a little about school in Scotland.  When they asked my age I got them to guess and I had everything from 17 to 17 which I am not going to complain about!

enjoying the photos and letters

looking at posters etc

They then wanted me to ask them questions which was actually quite difficult on the spot but I thought of some and then asked them in the abstract what was something they thought would improve their school.  I expected the kind of answers you would get in Scotland but they said more teachers which I found very moving as they are obviously desperate to learn and quite aware of the whole teacher situation.

Very excited by the letters and photos

very excited by the letters and photos

I then asked them if there were any photos of Scotland they would like to see and I would send them but what Philipo actually asked was if they could keep the photos of me that I had brought which were half and half of me running or in front of Scottish scenery or with friends.  I thought that was really nice and immediately sorted out some for them and we arranged them nicely on the wall in one of the lockable classrooms.

the photos of me that I put up

the photos of me that I put up

We then went out for more dancing and I taught them Strip the Willow, which it took me about 10 years to learn and they managed it in one session!  And that was mostly without anyone translating but an absolute hoot again!

doubled over with laughter at the dancing

doubled over with laughter at the dancing

 

I was obviously pleased when they got it right

I was obviously pleased when they got it right

I went back out to the school grounds after lunch as World Vision were there which proved to be really interesting.  I was able to talk to the staff a lot as they spoke really good english.  Mr Kaunda was there working as was one of the teachers from Fumba Primary whom I knew.  They seemed to be updating sponsorship cards with family members, attendance at school, height, weight and shoe size.  The children were also getting their photos taken for their sponsors all of whom in this area were from South Korea. 

One of the St4 who hung out with me quite a lot with his sponsorship card

One of the St4 who hung out with me quite a lot with his sponsorship card

The sponsorhsip money was used in this area to build a teacher’s house in the village, support irrigation work and develop health.  So it was very sustainable and useful for the long term development of the village.  One of them told me a little bit about the last time there was a famine in Malawi, which was about 5 years ago and the atmosphere in the village must have been very different at that point.  He said there were many people who died daily in the village during the famine and there was often one burial in the same plot for them all.  It was hard to believe and difficult to deal with.  I asked if the people in the village had enough to eat at the moment as that was something I was worried about and he did say no not everyone would especially not at certain points in the year especially as the harvests had been bad last year with the rains coming at the wrong time. 

getting weighed

getting weighed

Mosquito nets were also supposed to be being given out but they did not arrive until very late but which time the vast majority of people had gone.  They came flooding back very quickly when they heard the vehicle coming though.  Nets are given out by the government to all under 5’s so these were for older children as part of the sponsorship programme.

St3 boy, another one who spent quite a bit of time with me, having collected his mosquito net

St3 boy, another one who spent quite a bit of time with me, having collected his mosquito net

I watched all of this all going on all afternoon with Patrick and a couple of others and they were trying so hard with their english.  They then took me off to the school as they were waiting for choir practice and when the choir master (if thats what you call them!) did not turn up they obviously decided to do it themselves and asked me to go in and sit among them while they practiced which was really nice.

a popular game

a popular game

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The teaching of reading

30 08 2008

Tuesday 15th July

The children were very late in coming to school today because it was really quite cold and really who can blame them as they could stay beside the fire in their houses or come to school to be in a cold classroom!

I started off the day doing maths with St1 and 2 to show them how to use washing lines – not that I have a great deal of experience in that myself but it gave them a start at least and they thought it was brilliant.

I had taken out the string needed, clothes pegs and laminated coloured numbers that my class had made. With everything like that that I took I explained how they could make durable enough ones with cardboard and left them whatever I could find of bits that I had, like from the cases of water provided to us.

I then went to do maths with St6 and 7 and specifically wanted to show things that got some thinking going on. First though we did the loop cards which caused great hilarity whenever someone did not get up with their answer when it had been quite an easy question, especially if they had already been laughing at others! Mr Kalivute’s favourite was countdown and he off his own back asked the children closed to the number required to come and explain how they did it, which would have been my next point! It was obvious the pupils had never done anything like that before as they were unsure of how to explain things so I hope he keeps this up.

Did some more maths again with St3,4 and 5 and this was really just reinforcing the things I had already done to make sure the teachers understood.

We were having a CPD session after school and I wanted to but fanta and biscuits for the teachers to have. I was not even allowed to walk the couple of hundred yards to the shop myself and Patrick and Philipo came with – as did half the school as it was break time! They thought it was great fun to come out of school as it was break time so I was like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn all over again. Patrick told me at this point that he wanted to come home to Scotland with me – I am not sure in what context though!

I did Scottish country dancing with St6 and 7 today as well and I laughed until I cried today. I started off with the Canadian Barn Dance as I thought it was quite straightforward but had not counted on so much resistance from the girls about dancing with the boys. I explained the boys usually asked a girl to dance so I explained how they would just go over and ask, quite self-explanatory I thought! So Mr Kalivute strutted across to the girls, and I really mean strutted (how I wish I had had the video camera ready) and made a big thing of asking politely etc. The boys then followed him with the strutting and the girls promptly ran away! I eventually just numbered them to split them up, so we sorted that out for the moment.

first attempts

first attempts

I demonstrated with Mr Kalivute which was fine for the start of the dance until it came time for the hand round the waist bit etc and that just had the boys in stitches and whistling and the girls looking as if they were about to run away again! Kind of went for just holding hands in the end as the girls could not cope! The bizarre thing was that they could not get the hang of continuing the dance on and not just doing it once, so needless to say we never got to the point of changing partners.

note the girls all dancing together

note the girls all dancing together

I went for the dashing white sergeant after that and that was easier and the girls preferred it as they just did it with same sex groups. Funny thing was that I would do a wee tune while doing the bit with partners and they all automatically copied me! They liked the spinning round aspects of it the best.

the boys really went for it

the boys really went for it

Tried rounders again after that and we got on a bit better as Mr Kalivute was a bit more clued up on it but it was still vastly different to our version and there were so many of them wanting to play that they did not really have much to do most of the time.

I led some CPD on phonics, now I knew before I went that this might be something I would do so I do not know what possessed me not to take information as having only taught infants once a few years ago I felt quite clueless. So I had spent the previous few days texting every teacher in Scotland I knew to get info and a couple of them came up real troopers and sent me pages of texts back with info. They had heard of it and kind of knew the concept but relating it to Chichewa and getting them to see how they could use it was hard. It would only really begin to filter up as infants start.

the teachers have now to think of Chichewa words to fit the sounds

the teachers have now to think of Chichewa words to fit the sounds

It was something I felt really strongly about though as I knew the reading was really poor. For a start having volunteer teachers did not help and they were very teaching by just copying what the teacher said, at least in English lessons. Now they were just copying the teacher’s guides so in a way it is not their fault but an example would be a few lines between two people about not coming out to play until you had done your homework. Now I remember my german teacher saying she would not speak in English during a lesson but in reality that never happened as she had to explain things that were out of context or she could not point to etc. This is what these teachers were doing though. They would read the passage or a line, the children would copy, often one at a time with her (how boring for everyone, the lesson went on forever and I was nearly in tears with frustration) and yes they might be able to say it but they did not have the faintest idea what they were saying as it was not explained to them.

I therefore spent a lot of time explaining how even if it was an English lesson it was okay to speak in Chichewa, that they had to understand what they were saying and trying to encourage them to let the children sound the words out and not just copy the teacher all of the time. I demonstrated by showing how I could read Chichewa because of my knowledge of phonetics but I did not have a clue what it was I was actually reading. I really hope that some of that sinks in and they do it as it was so blatantly obvious how hopeless it was for all but the brightest children. It was not just English either.

Some evidence for this was that for the first time link did some baseline assessments to see if they can measure the impact of our work by then doing them again 6 months or a year later. 20 St3 pupils were picked at random and given oral and written Chichewa and maths work over 2 days which proved quite difficult to organise. All of the teachers had to be involved for doing the oral work and so it was after school, and before I did the CPD training. I felt really bad for the kids as they had to come back in the afternoon and there was a lot of waiting around as they waited on everyone turning up and on their turn for the oral reading etc. They did not seem to mind but I did, especially as it was not that warm. I had an enormous stash of monkey nuts in my room as everywhere I visited people gave me them so I got them out and passed them around.The results of the Chichewa reading were awful. There were a few kids who scored really well, there was no middle ground and then the majority of kids scored really badly. I later found out this was quite indicative of all of the global teachers schools. I think, I hope anyway, that this would show the teachers that the way they are teaching reading is not working and that they will start to use some of the strategies we gave them but really this has to come from the top down. The teachers are only doing what they are told really.

St3 again

St3 again

When all of this was over I got the bubbles out and then Patrick turned up to make me a football, which I had asked if he would mind doing for me. I did not know it would take so long – 1 ½ to 2 hours I think! He concentrated on it so hard and was hard work too. We used the plastic that came off my mattress and I had brought plenty of string. Some of the younger children were about and quite a few of the older boys came and sat and played as well and they practiced their English! By this point I was getting left without a translator a lot as Mr Kaunda was off doing stuff for his new job with World Vision and to be honest I think was a bit fed up of having to hang out with me all the time – not surprising really, it was a big commitment. Lameck was about quite a lot though unofficially and a big help to me.

Patrick making my football

Patrick making my football

 

just hanging out

just hanging out

 

Philipo showing off his gymnastics skills

Philipo showing off his gymnastics skills

 

She was only four but carrying her brother on her back

She was only four but carrying her brother on her back

I was really shattered at the end of the day today as it had been so busy and it was definitely early bed. I had nsima for dinner with a green relish which was the leaves of a plant and a cabbage relish.





Teaching by sign language

25 08 2008
Monday 14th July was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life and yet was also one of the best days that I had in school.  In typical Malawi time wasting fashion all of the qualified teachers in the zone had to go the TDC (Teacher Development Centre) during school hours to be head counted.  As this was a good couple of hours walk away this obviously stopped them coming to school. 

This happened all over the district this week with some schools closing for the day.  My teachers had only found out on Friday or Saturday and did not think of closing the school which was good for me in the end.

This left myself, the volunteer teacher in ST3 and the volunteer teacher who was starting for her first day in St2.  The volunteer teacher in St4 was also away as he had taken up a post with World Vision and although said he would still be able to teach as well was pretty much away at training events etc from the beginning of this week.   This was highly frustrating as I had just managed to get another volunteer teacher so there would have been 6 teachers and now we were pretty much back to 5 again.

I had jokingly asked Lameck (the St1 teacher’s 18 year old son that I ran with and hung out with quite a lot) if he wanted to come in and help me for the day by translating in the different classes I went into.  Of course he said he would and then I felt really bad but actually I think he was enjoying spening time with me, practicing his english and learning new things as he asked me so many questions all of the time.  He was able to do this because he had finished secondary school the year before but had not got a good enough mark in his engish exam to progress to uni so was resitting it this year but this meant he was just studying from home through the year, hence why he was able to spend so much time with me.  You had to get a certain grade in english to be able to progress any further.

I think it showed the difference in cultures when he said to me near the end of my time there that he had learnt so much from me in terms of planning and being organised as I was always saying I had this, this and this to do today and knew what order I was going to do them in and what time I would be going running etc.  They were obviously not used to that at all and he was clever and would presumably have had a bit more of a structured environment in the secondary school but it was still so different.  I know that I could have done with having more time there to get used to not being so driven by time and lists.  I should probably have stopped wearing my watch but that would be more than I could bear and I still had lists on the go out there!  Somewhere in the middle between both cultures would great but that is what we say about everything!

Mr Kalivute did come into the school first thing in the morning since he lived in the teacher’s house right beside the school.  He gave Lameck a class though so that was my translator gone!  In some ways it shows how easy it could be for someone with an education and good english to teach in Malawi as the curriculum and teacher’s guides are so prescribed that he could just pick up the book and teach it.  Also with behaviour being so good there was no need to have training in behaviour management etc.  Not that I saw anyway; I am sure there are behaviour issues in other areas.  There are the other issues of fall out, time keeping etc that schools in the rural areas have to deal with.

Mr Kalivute...on a Saturday!

Mr Kalivute...on a Saturday!

So the St3 volunteer teacher took St1 and 3, the new teacher took just her own St2 class, Lameck too St 4 and 5 and Mr Kalivute had spent a long time preparing work to leave for St 6 and 7 which was questions which they had to use their own notes from previous work to answer.  Absence on previous days did end up causing a bit of bother with this!  I popped in and out on them a lot but they were so hard working and just got on with it fine themselves.

St6 and 7 working hard

St6 and 7 working hard

I started in St 5 and did some maths with them and let Lameck take St4, just calling him in one on the odd occasion when I could not make myself understood.  We did the rythmn clapping for their tables and used the number fans and then I gave them some written work which we then swapped over and, very simplistically, peer marked.  I was very anxious to get this up and running as the teachers, particularly in the bigger classes, wasted so much time individually marking each child’s work – in the class!  So the children sat there doing nothing while the sums were marked and then nothing was done about corrections etc either.  This was not as much of a problem at Gwengwe though as I had seen last year in the urban schools where the classes were huge.  I loved this whole time in St5 and they loved it too as they were so keen – desperate! – to learn and had an absolute ball trying out anything different.  There was probably an element of the fact I was doing it as well and that we had a good laugh trying to understand each other. 

hanging out at break time

hanging out at break time

Looking back it seems very strange to have been in school and to have been smiling and laughing all of the time while teaching as that is so different to how I have behaved with my p.7’s this year.  I am not just blaming the children here either, maybe sometimes I have not given them enough credit for what they could cope with in terms of humour and still get on with their work.  It would just be blissful though to be teaching Malawian children, and I am sure any children from less developed countries, all of the time as you could actually teach all of the time instead of dealing with disruptive behaviour so much and they would want to learn.

It was very hard to get accross to the teachers that they are the most important resource in the classroom and they do not need lots of other things to teach with and we tried to constantly reinforce this later at the inservice training but they still it as an impossible task without the things that we have.

Digression over.

I did the same without the written work with St1 and they then started doing it whenever they saw for the rest of the week which was something I just found so cute.  I also worked in St3 on similar things for a while and loved it!  St2 were also loving having a teacher today and the fact that they now had a classroom so that made the two hour meeting on Sunday morning and the amount of persuading I had to do worth it right away.

I also spent time moving desks around etc; it had been incredibly frustrating to come in that morning after sorting them on Friday to find they had been moved about for choir practice and church!  Another hazard of only having lockable doors in two classrooms!  

I did keep going into St6 and 7 but they solidly worked away, even refusing to come out for the first break because they had not finished.  Nearer second break I sat and did some work on number cards while they worked and they started asking me to help them with the social studies questions they were doing and so I ended up going over it all with them as a class as it was the same questions I was being asked all of the time.  They were so pleased about this because it meant they would all finish their work and because I was spending time with them.

Still working hard

Still working hard

After break I took them and St5 for maths and did splat and the times tables round cards that I had just made.  I, and consequently them, ended up crying with laughter at trying to explain and then get the games going but it worked well once we mananged that.  This continued when we gave up on lessosn after this and I took them outside to play rounders with the bat and ball I had brought.  Half the school ended up playing, although it was only a very vague sort of rounders as that was by far the hardest thing of the day to explain even with Lameck’s help.  They did not get the idea of counting points for getting round but instead seemed to go by how many people the fielders got out and whoever the batting team were they got very nervous about trying to bat and often passed it onto someone else!

Lameck, Patrick and Philippe, my bodyguards as I called them in Chichewa!, came with me while I used my phone.  As Lameck was there I managed to get a bit more information from the two boys through translation mostly so that was nice.  I asked them what they had expected before I came and they were talking about how they thought the teacher would just spend time with the other teachers and not them so they were pleasantly surprised.  They wanted me to come back again when the new term starts and to come back to Malawi later when their english is better so they can talk to me properly!

With my bodyguards, Phillipe and Patrick

With my bodyguards, Phillipe and Patrick

It had turned a bit colder today after two lovely weeks so there were not really many children about playing in the afternoon and I was able to work in the school without feeling that I should be doing something else with them and I took the chance to get a lot of work done.  I had felt though that there were a lot of children who were not warm enough at school today.  It is hard because I know that for most of the year it is very hot and so they do not need many clothes and that the stone walls and floors in the classroom without sun coming in keeps them cool but I just wanted to be able to buy them all a jumper today!

Lameck could not run with me today as he came down and said he had felt the first signs of malaria coming on after school which I was really shocked at but he said he would be fine as he had taken the preventative drugs but that he better not run!!!  It was the first time anyone had really mentioned illness apart from HIV and it brought it home a bit.    I ran with Jaylois and it was great fun again.

Lameck is in the middle

Lameck is in the middle

The days food was:

breakfast – dry roll (nice when fresh, a bit harder to chew after a couple of days)

lunch – nsima, fish (had it about 3 or 4 times) and a vegetable relish

dinner – dry roll and rice (the rice was served with sugar, I told myself it was rice pudding)

I would have been given a morning snack too, probably bread again but would have avoided an afternoon snack since I ran at about the time I would get it.  Carb-tastic as usual! Not ideal when I was doing so much less exercise than at home!

I also helped, well watched really, how to make groundnut oil today, which is basically peanut butter and it is delicious.  All that is in it is nuts and a little salt,  I could not believe how much moisture was in the nuts, nor how strong my host mother is.  She is basically doing manual labour all day every day!

Check out the muscles!

Check out the muscles!

My poor attempts, but I really wanted one of those pestle and mortars to bring home!

My poor attempts, but I really wanted one of those pestle and mortars to bring home!

I had a fabulous day that day but at the same time was very aware that time was running out on my stay in the village and was getting concerned already at the thought of leaving.

I am sure the St1 teacher will not mind me mentioning it, as she told me within about 5 mins of meeting her and she was secretary of the whole district’s association for it, but she was HIV positive.  I am pretty sure, although I did not ask, that Lameck was not from what she told me about how she contracted it.  She kept pretty well and went to Dedza every 3 months for drugs and was also given special sachets of gel type food with extra vitamins etc. If she did get a cold etc she would be off school for a few days to make sure she recovered well and she always had to make sure she got plenty of rest.  One of my few moments when I threatened to get upset was on my second night when she introduced me to a girl in the school who was also positive.  She had not been in school much lately as she was quite sick and she looked it too.  I found this hard to deal with and I did just kind of block all other thoughts of it from my mind as the chances were 1/3 to 1/2 of the children I was meeting at school had it.  There was also the numbers who would have been affected by parents having it etc.  When I mentioned this when I came home some people thought I was worried, or were worried for me, about catching it but it was not, as I know I would have to be doing something really pretty stupid to be at risk, it was more that I could not in my head cope with knowing these children, teaching them and playing with them and knowing that they might be sick and have a low chance of survival.  I am sure most of them would not know they had it and even if they did would not be getting drugs.  On my previous trip to Malawi and even more especially the year before in Cambodia I had been very upset a lot by homeless, or just very poor children and I did not want to be getting upset here while living in the village so just had to put it out of my head.  To put into context how upset I was in Cambodia, on my last afternoon there I just could not bear to leave the hotel room as I could not cope with having to see these children anymore and deal with trying not to cry and inevitably failing anyway and crying and getting upset in front of them and trying to hide it.  I did love it there and would love to go back.  I think I would cope better now, well I hope I would.  So I did quite well in Malawi this year and I am glad as it was one of the things I was quite worried about.  I had a couple of lump in the throat moments but that was mostly when people were giving me nice speeches etc, until I left that is!

Mme Gwengwe following my example of making big charts and doing one for her HIV+ group

Mme Gwengwe following my example of making big charts and doing one for her HIV+ group

Sorry, this has been a really long post but I wanted to get thoughts etc down that I was worried I would forget or that I had been unable to write in my diary at the time.  It has taken me about a week to write this one as it is hard now I am back at work.  And made more difficult when you go away to Cardiff all weekend to see Madonna in the millenium stadium.  She was amazing, worth every penny and hour standing waiting on her but there was a slight guilt feeling about how I can spend that if I wish while still writing up all of this about people for whom that is unimaginable!

Into the Groove





Another couple of days

17 08 2008

Friday morning and it was the only time I seriously contemplated using my bucket! To explain; one of the things LINK provides you with in your house is a bucket to use instead of going out to t6 the toilet at night. When I arrived at my house I noticed mine was not in my room and so had to ask for it which was quite embarrassing. I am not sure what my host mother thought it was for but it was in her room. Now thankfully I do not usually have to make use of the toilet during the night and I really hoped I would not have to here either but of course I wanted it just in case and there might have been more of a problem seeing as I was in my room from so early on in the evening.

As I had not had to use the bucket I had started filling it up with my empty water bottles and all of the Scottish food that I had brought with me to have a tea party with on the last afternoon. This morning though, at 4.30am, I woke up desperate but it’s amazing what I will put up with to save embarrassment. (I did go 26 hours without using a toilet on a train journey in Vietnam so I have been used to it!)

I really did not want to have to use the bucket as the wall between my room and the rest of the house did not actually go all of the way to the ceiling and you can imagine the noise with a plastic bucket! Nor I did want the noise of emptying everything out of the bucket too. I contemplated trying to use a water bottle but it is probably just as well I did not try. So I suffered on, sure that my host mother would be up early as usual and I could go out to the toilet then. (As she was sleeping in the living area I could not go out to the toilet as I would have had to go out past her.) Of course she slept in and it was 5.45am before I could get out. Thank goodness I was not given tea again in the evening!

At school that day I started doing mental/active maths activities with the different classes. I got St1 and 2 together first, as still no teacher in St2, and then St6 and 7 together. I was quite self-conscious with the older ones at first as it felt like having secondary school kids but in the end they were the ones I spent the most time with and had a brilliant time with them. I did very simple things like rhythm clapping, pendulum swing and using counting sticks to start off with. It took me nearly a week to realise why the pupils could not join me in doing the times tables questions as I was doing my tables the opposite way round from them!

infants using number fans made by my class in Scotland

infants using number fans made by my class in Scotland

I then also did things like Buzz, Around the World, Slam, countdown, getting questions from an answer and using a ball to answer questions as well as others. The staff and pupils loved them once they got the hang of them particularly slam, countdown with the older ones and rhythm clapping. The deputy was really pleased with the countdown once he could see how good it would be for discussion and questioning as well. I tried to do a mixture of mental activities where the teacher would be involved and some activities we would use for early finishers so that if the teacher did have to (or want to!) leave the classroom they could easily leave the children something to do that was worthwhile.

seniors using number fans

seniors using number fans

I then took St1 and 2 with the St1 teacher for pe – I think we got about 2 games done as it was just bedlam because the children were so excited and wanted to be the ones picked for everything.

I then helped the St3 teacher with maths for St3 and 4 and I found this really hard as her English was so poor. I felt very sorry for the children as they would be waiting ages for each activity while I tried to explain then she explained it to them, then I would realise she did not have a clue what I was talking about and we would start all over again. I had to keep telling myself it was better than nothing for them.

Standard 3

Standard 3

After second break we all went outside and the older ones performed some dances for me. The girls were quite shy and did not put a lot into it but the boys were great and really into it. I found the things the boys were into strange, good strange though, compared to our boys as they loved the dancing and were also really into going to church and being in the choir which they practiced for nearly every evening. Of course they were very into football too!

Boys drumming for the dancing

Boys drumming for the dancing

One of my favourite photos

One of my favourite photos

As a reward for all of the pupils who had come on time every day that week I got the parachute out and they all got to have a go with it – that shows how few pupils came exactly on time as they all had a space on the parachute! They absolutely loved it but did not have it out for too long as of course it soon descended into chaos with all of the other pupils trying to join in too.

using the parachute for the first time

using the parachute for the first time

After school today I did some re-arranging of the classes with the HT. We wanted to make sure there were the correct number of desks in the classrooms, particularly for the St6 and 7 classes joining together and that all of the desks in all of the rooms were in groups. The classes that had started the new curriculum were (St1, 5 and 6) but the others were not. My school was actually quite lucky in that all of the classes apart from St1 had desks. The bonus about joining St6 and 7 together was also that St2, if they had a teacher, would now have a classroom as they been being taught outside or in the church until now. This took ages and I think everyone that saw me doing it was really surprised at a teacher and a female at that was shifting furniture about.

After lunch the teenage boy in my family and Patrick, the boy who had already helped me a lot, walked me up the hill to use my phone as I was still not allowed to walk anywhere by myself. Conversation was difficult as their English was limited. I had silly sandals on and ended up walking barefoot. It was really hard work and I don’t know how they went running with me like that!

They were funny while I text people though, they had a head on each of my shoulders watching what I was doing. I asked them to take me to the shop when we got back and bought them each a bottle of Fanta.

Jaylois and Patrick

Jaylois and Patrick

Had the bubbles out and then went for a longer (4 mile!!!) run with Lameck. We ran up to another village and I really got stared at this time as it was all people who had never seen me running before! It was two miles uphill to start off with and I was knackered at the end – my host mother could not stop laughing at me when I came back and huffing and puffing while doubled over.

More ‘Malawi time’ on Saturday morning. My school’s netball and football teams were playing at another school this morning, although not that schools teams, another school were meeting us there. I had asked and asked what time we would be leaving as I was meeting two other global teachers there as one of them was at the school we were going to and I had wanted to tell them what time we would be there. I was told 7am and so I was ready for then but did not leave, with Mr Kaunda and some of the kids, until 8.30am. It took about an hour to get there and Kim and Robert were there by 10am. The kids turned up in dribs and drabs, there were a lot of kids not on the teams who turned up to watch – there were more school uniforms at the football than there had been during the week at school!

hanging around!

hanging around!

Again with Malawi time the kids sat about for hours and the netball did not actually start until 12 o’clock. I ended up refereeing the netball but that is a very loose description of it as there were no rules to referee really which I was warned about. I think I only blew the whistle to re-start the game after a goal, which there was quite a lot of as my school won 12-0 which was getting a bit embarrassing. The boys were totally cheering me when it finished as if I had won it for them which was even more embarrassing!

another favourite photo

another favourite photo

Now the boys were now supposed to start their football match but only then went up to the school to have a lengthly team talk and then came down to start which was the point at which they had to then find wood to use as a crossbar for the top of one of the goals – you would have thought this could have been dealt with earlier! 1-1 at full time so it went to extra time and then we had to explain how to do penalties which I was obviously very pleased that we won! Seemingly these games are part of a nationwide tournament to find the best school in the country at football and netball so there was a lot of excitement both during and after the football.

school football team (deputy head teacher is on the left in the cap)

school football team (deputy head teacher is on the left in the cap)

We had the privilege of being invited to Kim’s host family for lunch which was lovely. Kim’s host father spoke English very well and the mum a bit so that was quite refreshing. I got back to my village about 4pm and went to the school to do some work but mostly it involved showing the football boys as they drifted in the photos of them playing football. They were really chuffed with this and through translation I discovered they were really thrilled that I had come to watch and actually shown an interest in the game and taken photos of them.

the tearoom in the village (taken on the way home from the football)

the tearoom in the village (taken on the way home from the football)

I spent some time out on the pitches after this as it began to get dark and some kids made a fire. I had seen this happen at this area often but had not realised until now that it was Nowa’s friends that were finding the firewood, building it, lighting it, looking after it and playing with it – as in they were only four/five years old! I was seriously worried and kept covering my eyes at what they were doing!

We had a meeting planned with the SMC (School Management Committee – a bit like our Parent Councils) and reps from the PTA, the village headmen and even an MP from one of the political parties. It was supposed to start at 7am and so I ran with Lameck at 6am which I thought was very nice of him to come and meet me at that time. Even at that time there were a few kids out to join me although not many as it was quite cold at that time. The head teacher came to the house but did tell me they were not ready and said he would come back when they were – 9am we started!

I have mixed feelings about how this meeting went as I got the result I wanted but not maybe in the way I wanted. It was very formal with introductions and then I gave a speech about all the good things I had seen so far, what I thought we had achieved and would continue to achieve and why I thought it was so important that they funded another teacher for St2.

They then spent ages discussing this and eventually came up with the idea that the children would pay 150kwacha a term to pay for a volunteer teacher. That is just over 50p a term and they have three terms. I was very uncomfortable with this as I know they were previously getting money from the villagers to pay for the teachers and so it is parents who were getting asked to pay really but this seemed worse to me. I particularly stressed that the children should not feel they cannot come to school if they cannot pay and so they said they would help out families who were struggling. I did not think about this until later but there will be families who have several children in the school and this would not be easy.

To give them different ideas I talked about how they could do enterprise things like using people in the community to teach the children how to make things which they could then sell. I was very proud of my idea at the last minute of the children/school having a chip stall as the village does not have one and they seem to be popular in other places. They really liked this idea and even then thought about lending money to people and using the interest on getting back to buy the stuff needed etc. Not sure what I thought about that either really!

everyone who was at the meeting

everyone who was at the meeting

Mr Kalivute had a girl in mind for the job so we went to see her straightaway and she accepted so I was really pleased that I had helped achieve this.

Mr Kaunda was nowhere to be found to take me to church and my host mother did not want to sit at the front with me so Mr Jims, the head teacher, had to stay with me. I did try to say that I did not need to sit at the front but they would not hear of it. The service was not as much of a novelty as last week but was only marginally longer at two and a half hours.

Spent some time working in the afternoon but felt guilty for doing so as there were a crowd of kids watching me and I felt I should just be playing with them, so that is exactly what I did, pretty much until it was time for dinner and bed!

trying to work in the school

trying to work in the school





2nd week at school

11 08 2008

This is hard work but by the number of hits I am getting a lot of people seem to be reading it so it’s worth it!

Put out my punctuality sheets today and ironically there were only two teachers there at that point!  Assembly did not even start until 7.30 (when it is supposed to finish) and that was when the two others teachers arrived that were coming that day.  That meant three classes had no teacher that day.  The deputy headteacher was always there early and I thought he was super dedicated (he did live right beside the school though in one of the teachers houses) but today anyway, and not for the first time, the headteacher was late!  They divided the classes up between them but it does mean not very much gets done when not all of the teachers are there.  By the end of my time there I had at least got them to move two classes into the same classroom if not all of the teachers were there which helped a bit.  It was at least better than leaving a class with nobody.  Can you imagine doing that in Scotland?! 

punctuality sheets

punctuality sheets

I took all of the classes with the teachers today to do pe games as the only things I had really seen were football and netball.  Both the teachers and the pupils loved the games I showed them and I did different ones with each class and encouraged them to swap the ideas.  It was very tiring though  and took so long as you were having to explain the games to the teacher (easier said than done in some cases!) and then they would explain to the children and then you try them out and more often than not had to re-explain and re-explain as you realised flaws once they started playing it.  I could not believe they did not even know how to play tig!

I managed to get them stay back after school today and we agreed on and got ready for display their school rules.  This was one of the things on their school improvement plan and seemed a straightforward thing to get on with.  I tried to just be a facilitator and get them to decide together on the rules and they did this pretty well although I would say that again most input came from the deputy head.  They then took the longest time to translate the rules into Chichewa as we were putting them on display in Chichewa from St 1-4  and then in english from St5-7.  I did the english ones and they did a Chichewa one each and I was finished all of mine before they finished theirs which they were a bit astounded at!  This all took until 2pm and they said they were very tired when we finished!

school rules

school rules

I got out snakes and ladders at home in the afternoon, without anyone there to translate if I remember rightly and they got the hang of that quite quickly.  I also got some balloons out which they loved but it was about the only time they actually played with them.  Most of the time when I got them out they just deflated them pretty quickly so that they could keep them.

playing with balloons

playing with balloons

I did hill training while running today and could not believe how many joined me and how easy they found it!  Dinner was rice and sugar – I told myself it was rice pudding!

On Wednesday more teachers were there on time which was very encouraging!  I went round each class in the morning with the school rules and encouraged each teacher to go through them all and explain them well and then put them up in each class.  This took ages!

One of the other things in the school improvement plan was monitoring of teachers which I had been prepared for before coming out and so had brought some guidelines.  I had totally meant to bring my own monitoring sheets as well but somehow forgot them (it was total madness trying to get stuff to bring, pack etc and pack my own classroom up before leaving).  So I had prepared for the headteacher a set of guidelines and advice and a master form that could be used if he wished.  I know I should have done this in conjunction with him but it was so difficult to find time with him supposed to be in a class and my biggest  ‘bug bear’ was the teachers not being in class teaching and so I did not want to ask him to come out to discuss things.  It would have been a lot easier if he had been staying in the village but as he was  a good walk away it was hard to ask him to stay later.  He should have been in the other teachers house beside the school but the old headteacher was still there – there had been a bit of a situation which led to the new head being appointed!

So today I observed in St1, filled out the form and most importantly I felt made sure I gave the feedback right away to the St1 teacher and the head happened to be about so he heard how positive I was which I think was really important.  I basically had some stuff written for each part of the lesson and then had 2 stars and a wish for the positives and next steps.  I could have had far more than two stars though as the lesson was great, everything I saw her do was good and she was so pleased to get positive feedback as I do not think they are praised for their work very often.  In fact I would say I spent a lot of my time there ‘bigging up’ the St1 teacher and the deputy head as I felt they were working so hard.  The thing I said though that pleased her most was that she was doing a lot of similar things to the primary one teacher in my school as a lot of what she was doing was active and they are introducing group work and continous assessment.  She was just so chuffed with this.

St1 sitting in groups

St1 sitting in groups

I spent the rest of my morning re-doing the timetables to take into account the lateness of pupils (and teachers) and the problem of St7 not having a teacher.  English, maths and chichewa were all taught first thing in the morning and so if lessons started late these lessons would be shorter and the pupils who were late were these important lessons all of the time.  So I moved other subjects to first thing in the morning and those subjects to after first break, making sure they did not go too far on in the day when the pupils would be tired as this was the only thing the teachers were worried about.  I had done this after asking the teachers first and it could be seen as a waste of my time for me to be the one to reorganise the timetables (and spend many hours after school making new masters nicely on flip chart paper) but I know if I did not do it while I was there and make up the big masters then it would not have been done.

It was the next part that really took me the longest.  I really thought that for the most part it was a waste of time St7 being in school as they were hardly taught.  It was supposed to be that teachers left their classes with work and went and taught St7 a couple of subjects but this was just not happening and was hardly an ideal solution anyway.  I had discussed the idea of a composite class with the head teacher and he was agreeable so we had asked the deputy since he taught St6 and was so good.  He was apprehensive but agreeable to giving it a go and so I re-organised all of this.  I was pretty sure St7 would pretty much be taught the same as St6 but this was better, I think, than them not being taught at all especially since everything by this stage is supposed to be taught in English and I am sure they were not understanding a lot of it anyway.

I still wanted (was determined!) that the other teachers would be involved as well so the way I worked it was that the deputy would teach both classes till 11am, doing english, maths and chichewa, social subjects and agriculture.  When the infants went home at 11 and the juniors went home at 12 the other teachers would share between them expressive arts, life skills and other subjects which were left.  All of the teachers were agreeable to this but I would be interested to see if it is really put into practice next term.

these took me a long time, especially since I forgot to take tippex!

these took me a long time, especially since I forgot to take tippex!

Grace from LINK and Mr Balaka, the PEA for the zone came out to do a visit this afternoon.  I found it amazing how the children always heard the vehicle coming long before I did.  I chatted to Grace myself for a bit, she made sure this happened as they had realised I may not have been able to say if there was a problem last week since the teacher was always there.  As it is I was buzzing with excitement about how well I was dealing with things and how I felt I was finally getting somewhere with developments in the school.  At this point I felt I had wasted time in the first week but you had to find your feet and I did spend the Friday at another school (as had been requested of me). 

I then, on the spur of the moment, ended up going up to the headteacher’s village with him, the deputy head and Lameck, the boy I ran with.  I did not realise at the time that he had been specifically asked (probably told) to come with me so that he could accompany me back.  If I had known this I would not have gone as I felt bad at him having to do this, although he seemed fine with it.   Grace was no slower a driver than Wilford and as I was in the pick up truck, sitting on the floor of it at the back I came right up at one and then banged my bum hard back down – it was probably slower than banging my head! 

the view from my headteacher's village

the view from my headteacher's village

I spoke to my mum outside the head’s house for a long time as it was her birthday (I would regret that when I got home and saw my bill!) and during this time more and more children gathered as obviously I was such a novelty.  They just sat and stared at me the whole time I was on the phone but I just found it really funny.  I then of course had to go in and eat and then I went back outside and got the bubbles out which was good fun as it was the first time these kids had seen them.  I said a few times how for the smallest kids at the front it was always like being in mosh pit!

playing with bubbles

playing with bubbles

Back just before dark, in fact we had to rush the walk home!  I was shattered and yawned the whole way through my dinner again – which was rice and sugar again!  One thing I found quite hard was not only being fed by anyone I visited but also being sent away with food by people who were so poor.  I had a mountain of monkey nuts in my room by the last week which I did eventually manange to offload on the kids at school and was also given maize, potatoes and some other strange vegetables which at least I could give to my family to cook but they were being paid to feed me, these other people weren’t!

On Thursday I did a bit more work on the timetables to finish them off; this was only on scrap paper, I did all of the big masters in my own time.  I observed the ST4 volunteer teacher who translated a lot for me, doing english which I can’t lie about – in my diary I wrote it was a bit depressing!  He tried and he knew what he was doing in some ways but part of the problem was that the children’s english was not good enough (not their fault) for what they were doing and the teachers in general did not explain enough in Chichewa to explain what the english was.  To be fair they were only following the teacher’s guides so they were doing what they were told.  I did spend a lot of time explaining how it was okay to talk and explain things in Chichewa.  I also observed the HT and that was better, there were still the same problems but he dealt with it better.  Had a quick meeting with the staff to discuss what we had done so far and what they and I still wanted to do before I left.  Luckily the things I had in mind were what they wanted help in so we were sorted!

Went up to the other school again also today and helped them with their school rules as that was also on their school improvement plan and gave them some other ideas similar to what I had been doing at Gwengwe.  I found them really quiet though and it was hard to get going with them.  Good experience though of working with different types of staff.

I was really frustrated as I had just sorted out teachers for St7 when the St2 volunteer teacher left!  Someone from the School Management Committee came round when we got back from Fumba Primary to talk about paying for another and this proved to be a bit of a sticking point.  Managed at this point to get them to think about it and have a meeting with me on Sunday morning.

I did some work within the compound in the afternoon – everyone always thought it was really odd that I wanted to sit in the sun as they would automatically sit in the shade.  Since I was working at the same time I got out a Scottish colouring book I had brought and some coloured pencils.  I had originally thought Nowa and his friends would most use it but they had no idea what to do!  I demonstrated and they did have a bit of a go but it was not really active enough for them and then it ended up being Jaylois and another teenage girl who sat for hours and did it.  He was really engrossed.

the little ones colouring!

the little ones colouring!

 

the big ones colouring!

the big ones colouring!

Wilford from LINK and Mr Balaka came late in the afternoon with the second batch of money for the family and we got fed the only thing I really did not like while there.  It was basically hot water and maize flour and I really found that quite hard to stomach!

Usual bubbles and snap after they left until bathing time and dinner.  I got my favourite thing for dinner which was potatoes cooked with tomatoes and red onion!

My host mother cooking the potato dish

My host mother cooking the potato dish

Sorry this is a really long one, I think it shows I was getting there with doing stuff in the school but it means I will leave Friday for next time!





First weekend

9 08 2008

This was the part I was worried about before I left as I thought that the weekends might be very long if the family did not speak english and especially this first weekend as the Monday was a national holiday too. As it turns out I had a brilliant time – as I did the whole time – and was kept very busy!

Myself, the male volunteer teacher in St4, who basically was my translator and companion most of the time, my host mother and the deputy head teacher’s wife walked to Mayani which was the nearest town and was described as a trading centre.  I had passed through it in the land rover on my way to the village and it was quite quiet during the week.  Not so at the weekend!

ground maize

ground maize

It took us an hour and a half to walk and I had been told that it was about 10km to get there and I guess that is about right because despite a lot of uphill I walked at my usual very fast pace and knackered everyone I was with.  They could not believe the pace I was going at and although I did try to slow down I am not very good at that!  It did not seem like it took an hour and a half as there was so much to see and obviously there were a lot of people looking at me as we went through tiny villages!

bikes could carry a lot!

bikes could carry a lot!

I had taken a wind up mobile phone charger with me but it was useless so I needed to recharge my phones (I had my samsung with my UK simcard and my old motorola with a Malawi simcard).  Mr Kaunda (the teacher)  took me to a barber’s stall when we got there and we put them both in.  I was a bit apprehensive about putting both in but of course it was fine and I now wish I had put in my video camera as well as that ran out well before the end of my time in the village!  They were charging for a couple of hours first and it only cost about 20p!

While there I tried to buy newspapers so that I could then pass them round the village but even by the time we left at about 1pm they had not arrived from Dedza yet!  The whole place was heaving and there was quite a large market which we went into and very surreally I was helping Mr Kaunda pick out new shirts and shoes!  That was one of those ‘I can’t believe I am actually here and doing this’ moments – in a good way!

in the market

in the market

We spent a lot of time just hanging around, partly as it is what they do, we were waiting on my host mother and we were waiting on my phones.  I found this very strange as I am so not used to sitting and doing nothing!  It was no bad thing though as there was loads to watch and it will have done me good to have chill out time!  We met Lameck, the boy I ran with lots, and that was good as he was such a nice person to spend time with and he became a good friend.  He also took me to see the secondary school in Mayani which was quite different to the primary schools but then you have to pay for secondary school education.

Mayani day secondary school

Mayani day secondary school

 

my host mother and the deputy head's wife carrying their shopping home

my host mother and the deputy head's wife carrying their shopping home

My host mother and her daughter took me to wash my clothes in the river in the afternoon.  Nowa and his pals (they were inseperable) came with us and they had a great time as they just stripped off and played in the water.  I gave the women (and the various other teenagers there also washing clothes) a right laugh as they thought I was so bad at washing the clothes.  No-one was there to translate and I thought I was doing okay but they obviously didn’t and basically rewashed everything I had tried to wash!  I did get a bit worried about seeing my techinical running kit being bashed off a stone!

My host mother's daughter, Mercy, re-washing my clothes

My host mother's daughter, Mercy, re-washing my clothes

I then had the bubbles out again and ran again – various boys from the football team were waiting on me and loads of us ended up running around what were basically peoples gardens I thought!  There was a lot of running around on long grass which was hard, hard work.  I always felt like a bit of a fraud running as I was huffing and puffing with the altitude and they must have thought I was very unfit!

I got fish for dinner tonight for the first time, it was tasty but very bony and of course had the heads and tails on it!

On the Sunday I knew I would be going to church but could not get a time sorted – I was never very good at not being ruled by my watch!  I got snap out for the first time and after bubbles this was the most successful thing that I took.  I didn’t quite get bored of it by the time I left as it was just so nice to play with them but lets say I don’t feel the need to ever play it again ( until I go again next year of course!)

playing snap

playing snap

I went to do some work at school since it did not appear church was starting anytime soon and of course I was followed by Nowa and some of his pals.  They just contentedly sat and watched me and practised saying my name and tried to get me to learn their names.  I was always called Caro or Carol as there was no way they could manage Caroline.  After a while they left and then some of the older ones from the football team came and did the exact same thing!

Church eventually started at 11am and lasted 2 hours 20 mins! Actually despite it all being in Chichewa it did not seem as if it lasted that long, probably as it was broken up with so much singing.  The only thing was sitting on a wooden seat for that long!  I had to get up and speak and it was translated for me, you are expected to go on for quite a while but there was a limit to what I could think of to say! 

singing in church

singing in church

I went up to visit people in another village in the afternoon and my headteacher met us there.  They were very nice and loads of kids came out to play with the bubbles I had brought.  I got very attached to one boy of about 2 who was right beside me all the time, let me spin him around etc and then when we were leaving he walked me up the road hand in hand.  I was crying with laughter several times today and that happened to me all the time while staying in the village – it was great!

my little friend

my little friend

On Monday morning, it being a holiday, Mr Kaunda and Mme Gwengwe took me up a nearby hill to see the views of the village and have a picnic.  Again this was me being made to sit and do nothing which was probably a good thing for me!  The picnic consisted of potatoes and the scones with honey that someone in the village had made and then kind-of-dried maize on the cob which I can’t say I found that appetising!

myself and Mme Gwengwe

myself and Mme Gwengwe

I worked in the school for four hours in the afternoon.  As a way to try and get the learners to come on time I was preparing flip chart sheets for each class with everyones names on them and dates for them to tick if they arrived before assembly started.  I would then get the parachute that I had brought out at the end of the week for all of the pupils that came on time all week.  I did try to keep saying to the teachers that they had to come on time as well to be role models and since there was no point in the pupils coming on time if the teachers were not there.

 

punctuality sheets

punctuality sheets

One of the St7 boys came in and watched me for a bit and then ended up helping me all afternoon without much conversation as english was limited!  He was lovely and we ended up hanging out loads as he was keen to help me, learn loads and try out his english as time went on.  By the end of my time there he was telling me he wanted to come back to Scotland with me!  I found it so refreshing that children, particularly boys, could be friendly, polite, helpful and great fun to hang out with as it was such a difference to the attitudes of pupils I was used to in Scotland.  Also bizarre that all of these boys would be playing football one minute and in church practising with the choir the next.

Patrick, the kid who helped me loads.  (He was wearing a girls jacket while doing scottish dancing for some reason!)

Patrick, the kid who helped me loads. (He was wearing a girls jacket while doing scottish dancing for some reason!)

Running, bubbles and snap again to finish off the day, I was getting into quite a routine!





Wed 2nd July

8 08 2008

Bread for breakfast – they call it a scone but it was like a double size roll.  I just ate it dry and it was fine, although it was fresh today. Some days they were a bit more dry.

The staff and pupils were noticeably later today although not as drastically as at other schools I do not think.  It did keep being a problem though.  Throughout my stay the staff were generally there and lessons started by 7.45am, until the last couple of days but there were many pupils who were not there until a lot later.

Standard 3

Standard 3

We had a staff meeting today at 10am.  I was still feeling a bit dazed and settling in at this point and had not really realised this would then mean lessons were over for the day or I would never have agreed to it and I certainly did not let another meeting happen during the school day at my school.  It was really productive though as we discussed the school improvement plan and other things they wanted me to help them with.

After the meeting we had sports and I played netball – so I was allowed to wear trousers for this!  It was very funny as I really had no clue who was on my team.   Many kids watched and there were loud cheers whenever I got the ball and passed it.

playing netball

playing netball

In the afternoon today I got bubbles out for a couple of the young kids and they loved it.  I was also shown how to make nsima which I was not much good at as you had to hold the pot and I found that impossible as it was so hot.

bubbles were always popular

bubbles were always popular

Roger (one of the returning GT’s there to support us) and Grace (works for LINK) came out to do my pastoral visit in the afternoon.  I was doing fine and was quite happy but I did use the opportunity to get Grace to explain that I would like to eat with the family and that I did not need to eat very much!  What did I get as soon as they left – FOOD! They never thought I ate enough!

I ran in the village for the first time today- great fun with loads of kids following me and joining in.  More info on my running blog.  Lots of visitors again today as well with girls from the school coming in to show me traditional dancing.

not the loneliness of the long-distance runner!

not the loneliness of the long-distance runner!

On Thursday I spent time with the timetables etc and observed some lessons again.  I was basically deciding what I would be able to take forward and organsing my own timetable for the next two weeks to be in classes with the teachers as much as possible to help out and team teach.  I had found already that one problem is having the time to talk to the head teacher since he is supposed to be teaching.

I went up to his house after school today, it was probably a 40 min walk away (uphill) but seemed to take a lot longer as I was introduced to so many people along the way.  Of course I was given food while there and I had also taken some tablet with me which they loved.  My jaw was actually sore at the end of the day with smiling so much!

I had a rude awakening on Friday morning as the radio came on at 4.15am very loudly.  It was potatoes for breakfast which was a bit strange first thing in the morning (especially when I don’t even usually eat breakfast at home).

I went with the headteacher up to Fumba Primary this morning, which is the other school the PEA asked me to work with.  It took 45 mins, mainly steep uphill on the way there.  We were there early but assembly did not even start at 8.30am and even then only 3 teachers were there.  It was a bit of a waste of time really as the head was not there and I was told they were not doing proper lessons as they were preparing for tests.  I sat in while St 2 did an english test which seemed very hard.  When I saw the results the next week they were very mixed – one child got 2/40 and one got full marks but the rest were very spaced out with many getting poor results.  I examined their improvement plan, some of which was quite similar to my school and said I would go back again to help them with some things on it.

One good thing about it though was that I got the chance to have a long discussion with my headteacher about Gwengwe (although his class were left without a teacher!).   I was able to bring up things like punctuality and classes stopping early for sports and he does realise the impact this has and was going to try to stop it.  It was now that I was also able to say about the possibility of a composite class which thought was a great idea as it would also give st 2 a classroom.

Bubbles, dominoes, exploring the village and running in the afternoon.   My worry about not having enough to do when school finished definately did not happen, if anything I did not have enough time to then do my diary and school work.

Dinner was rice and sugar so I just told myself it was rice pudding, was starting to worry about my teeth though!

I thought the boy on the right was so cute!

I thought the boy on the right was so cute!