Things I have learned so far…Posted: May 20, 2013
Ever since I stepped foot in Tanzania, I have been learning. Everyday has new experiences to be had and to be learned. Some things I have learned about myself, about teaching, the culture, and life in general. But some things have stood out to me.
Things I have learned about culture:
I am glad this trip is filled with different excursions instead of just teaching in schools or sticking to touristy things. Being able to see how people live in the city as compared to how people live in the rural country helps me see how different areas in Africa can be. Before coming to Africa, I thought that it was mostly dry and not very populated. Well was I wrong. The city is very populated. There are people everywhere, even when it is pouring rain outside.
Things I have learned while teaching:
There seems to be some wholes in students learning and connections of concepts. I have sat in on math classes, assisted in, and taught math classes. What I can gather from seeing students do math in these situations is that students are missing critical concepts. One of the concepts that I came across were students not understanding (or relating) the sum of 7+7 is the same as the produce of 7×2. To show how repeated addition and multiplication were the same I wanted to do a quick activity by reciting their time table 5 and marching by counting by 5’s. As I thought about it more, I do not think that my students would understand that the marching by 5’s would give them the same result as multiplying by 5’s. It would turn into a whole class period lesson instead of a mini lesson or review.
Time is precious but should I give up my tea time?: Our time ran out to be in the classroom, but I was still working with these two students. The teacher came up to me and noticed that we still had some work to finish on the problem. She said, “Well I don’t know when I would help them. I could during my tea time or later during play time.” I quickly responded and told her I can finish up helping them and I will meet with her at our next classroom. I could not believe what she said. I was shocked to say the least. In any American class a teacher is always more then willing to take time out of their day to help students. There are specific teaching jobs to assist students with extra help. I am not saying that my teacher here should be the main teacher as well as the assistant teacher, but not giving a students help with they clearly need it is not helping the student progress with their learning.
Majority Rules: I have taken the advantage of the ability about the power multiple examples has on students. If most students understand the material then the teacher will move onto the next example. The teachers do not go around and help students. Their idea of monitoring the class while they do classwork is standing and waiting for students to get done with their classwork, mark their classwork, and then move onto the next student to check their work. I worked with two students in standard 4 in math. I helped them before with the formula for perimeter of a rectangle and a square. I figured that they were also going to need more help today. Today we used the formulas for perimeter of a rectangle and square to solve for the length or width depending on what shape. These two students were lost. I noticed that the teacher was still moving forward with the material because ¾ of the students were chorally responding to their questions. Even as we went through the problem together, these two students were still having a rough time deciding where to put values of numbers and what to write next.
Things I have learned about myself:
- I like working with small groups. For me it is easier for me to see where students are having misunderstandings. From there I can assess where they are and guide them to the next step.
- I would rather stay in one classroom then switch every class period. That way, if I want to spend more time on a topic or subject then I can. I think that is also beneficial for the students.
- The safari was better then I expected. I would rather see animals in their own habitat then in the zoo.
- I like warm weather. No more snow for me!
- Bartering is the best way to get a good price. I have learned to speak up and let people know they gave me two prices. The first one low and then a higher second price. I know I am a mazungu (white person) but I know when you are trying to hike up prices.
- I love traveling. It is better then reading books about distant places. Having hands on and real time experiences makes everything worth it!