Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time to sink or swim

I should be careful what I wish for. Yesterday by 1:30 I had completely run out of this to do, classes were done in the library, I had completed the filing in the office, even lunch had already been made. So I inquired about any other work I could do.

The headmistress Sr. Martina told me that since the beginning of February, one of the teachers had been out sick. So for the past three weeks the Primary 1 and 2 students have been without a teacher for math or home economics. Sr. Martina asked if I would be willing to teach either of those subjects. I am not really sure what home economics is so I decided to take math. So they provided me with a lesson plan which consisted of things like "Week 5: Addition of two digit numbers with the sum not greater than 40." I was also given one of the children's textbooks, which has lots of math problems but doesn't have explanations on how to solve or teach them. So that was all the materials I was given.

Today was sink or swim time. My first two classes were with Primary 2A and 2B. According to the schedule Primary 2 students were supposed to be measuring length with natural units, e.g. handspan, arm length, steps. I was all prepared to teach that lesson but about thirty seconds into the class it became obvious to me that the students had already learned this lesson. So I switched gears and moved on to the next lesson of standard units using centimetres. We measured pencils and various objects. I was a little surprised that most of the students didn't know how to use a ruler. Fortunately, most of the children seemed to catch on by the end of the class period.

After my Primary 2 classes I had Primary 1. This week the students were supposed to be subtracting from whole numbers but I started with a review to help me gauge where the students were at. Almost all of the students could do simple addition like 1 + 2 = 3. When I moved on to adding two digit numbers some of the students were shouting out the answer before I could put the chalk down, while other students gave me the deer in the headlight look. It is my suspicion that the students were taught these lessons but only half of them understood it. So I think the Primary 1 classes will be more difficult to teach.

Never in a million years did I think I would be teaching on my own but I think I might grow to like it. The children are pretty excited about learning in general and about having the Onye Oicha teach them. I am just going to do my best and when I start to feel totally inadequate for the job, I tell myself that something is better than nothing.


  1. My little sister's teaching kids the metric system. I have never been more proud of you in my life :) I would send you my pi shirt to wear while you're teaching them, but I'm afraid it would never make it to you. It is so cool there's no way it would make it through customs without catching someone's eye.

  2. Becky,
    I think of you when I am teaching maths (the kids correct me if I forget the s at the end). So far my Primary 2 classes have been all about the metric system which I know you love. Today one of the teachers invited me to help out with the science club and it made me wish I was as big a science nerd as you. If only I had that pi shirt...