Friday, July 11, 2008

Teaching

Sorry its taken me awhile to update this...the last time I came to the internet cafe, the internet was down. It’s amazing how quickly the weeks are passing now that I have a regular routine and am used to life in Ghana. Teaching has been difficult this week. Although I absolutely love and adore my students, they are very difficult to control at tines. Yesterday was by far the most difficult day so far. I don’t remember if I told you but I am the only teacher for my kids. All the other classrooms at the orphanage have both teachers and volunteers so the volunteers just assist the teacher and develop activities for the children. In my class, I am in charge, I have 24 students now...I just got a new student today. I have a new appreciation for teachers everywhere because I now realize how difficult and frustrating teaching can be. My students were so difficult yesterday that I had to get the headmaster to come in and try to quite them down. As I am the teacher in my class, I have not had to deal with corporal punishment and seeing the children being punished in that way. However, one of the other volunteers at the orphanage who is working with the youngest class (ages 2-4) was exposed to this type of punishment in her class. She was not okay with this at all so she met with the staff of the orphanage. As a result, the teachers at the school are no longer allowed to use the cane to punish the students. As an alternative, the headmaster had my students all stand on one hand and the opposite foot. He told me that the students would stay like this for 40 minutes. Although I was extremely frustrated with my kids, I was not okay with this as a form of punishment for misbehaving. He tried to tell me that this was a good alternative and would make the students listen/ behave better in the future. After being in the classroom for a few minutes with the children standing like this, they started crying and expressing their pain and discomfort. I could not stay in the room. It was too hard for me. I walked out crying. I could not stand to be in the room with my students crying and being punished in such a way. Its frustrating when I try so hard and they dont listen but I was not okay with this as a way to punish them. After a few minutes of sitting outside and crying my eyes out, all my children came outside and gathered around me as each one apologized. It was most definitely my hardest day here. And while I think its great that they are not going to keep using the cane, I do not think this is a good alternative. I am working on brainstorming other forms of punishment that are more humane. For some reason, it surprises me that there are still places in the world where children are hit with a cane or stick. Today was a much better day and the children were much better behaved. I am working on teaching them how to write their names...it is not as easy of a task as it sounds.

After placement today, I went to mosque with Alpha, the night guard of the homebase. It was an incredible experience. They dressed me up in the traditional clothing and had me perform the rituals before entering the mosque. They taught me all about the traditions, clothing, and prayers and even had me join in for the 15 minute service (which occurs 5 times a day).

I am staying in Hohoe this weekend to go shopping and spend some time in the community. We have a new group of 33 volunteers arriving tomorrow so it will be fun to meet them all and get to know a new group of people. Its crazy that the three weekers have already left and that their stay here is now over.

I am going to head back to the homebase. Hope everything is going well! Love you all lots!

xoxo
Nicole

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