Friday, July 5, 2013

First Week of Lessons

It's been a while since the last time I taught a classroom in a developing country. This time it's been Monday to Friday, 9am-3pm, and I'm one of two TAs helping Jeff, a teacher with over two decades of experience. In fact I was one of his students, first in 8th grade, then again in 10th grade. Jeff was the humanities/geography teacher who, when I returned to Seattle from my big trip around the world, rolled out the blank world map and told me to show him where I'd been.

First lesson I've learned standing on the other end of the classroom? Get your students' names memorized ASAP. Everything becomes easier after that. As a tutor, I tend to engage students individually if I can, and my being able to tell, for example, goofball Adugna from quiet, precise Natnael instantly is absolutely necessary. In fact, after about two days, I couldn't see how anyone could possibly mix them up.

As a classroom experience, it was pretty intimidating for the first day, but then, once I engaged a proper lesson plan and saw it really work in the room, it all felt much smoother. I'm not that good a classroom teacher yet, but I'm feeling pretty confident, especially after getting to know each of the kids' personalities and quirks. We've worked with them on reading comprehension and analysis, word roots and vocab, typing, grammar, speech, and a book out of a curriculum called Global Issues and Sustainable Solutions (which contains more or less what it says on the tin).

It's been great getting them to stand up and practice English by either reading Shel Silverstein poems (and seeing who knows enough English to laugh at which parts) and to get them doing improv games. "Gumbies" was a big hit today-- you put people in pairs, one person can talk but can only move when their partner (who can't talk) physically moves them. There're at least two more theater teachers inbound to the school, so this is only the beginning for these kids.

But one of the funniest moments from school this week is something that wasn't in the classroom. It was in the cafeteria. I'm going to finish this post with a JTrek first: a video. Before you watch, there are a couple things you need to be familiar with:

1. Ethiopian food is traditionally eaten with your right hand. You use flat injeera bread to scoop up the food and stick it all in your mouth.

2. A traditional way of expressing affection and intimacy for someone, usually a family member, is to feed them by hand. It's called gursha.

So, this is what happened when my fellow TA, Dawit, talked one of our students, Hayamanot, into trying this out at lunch:

video
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Check out this entry's Photos.

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