This past Friday I toured the school I will be working in for the next three months; I was expecting to just take a tour and meet the other teachers and headmaster and get my schedule or what I would be teaching at least. Little did I know that I would be taking over a classroom that day…
His Grace School is about a ten minute walk from our compound and has about 120 students with maybe 7 or 8 teachers. Kids from ages 2 or 3 all the way up to 18 and they organize students in “classes” that are generally three year age groups, but sometimes you have a random kid that’s 18 even though it is just a primary and junior high school.
It is set up in a U-shape building with a “courtyard” in the middle with concrete stones. Each classroom is concrete floors, stucco walls, and windows on two sides with no screens, blackboard on the front wall, a makeshift “closet” and wooden desk/seat combos that sit maybe a foot off the floor (you can imagine some of the bigger kids sitting at those).
Eventually when I get a schedule I will be teaching both social studies and English; however, until then I am doing whatever…I’m not as stressed by it as one might expect because I’m not sure there is enough structure to stress about things… Teachers are not required to tell when they are going to miss class so I have been covering several of their classes–sometimes teachers are even at the school and just miss class (that’s what the headmaster did today).
This past Friday I taught an English Composition class. The head teacher just came to me and said, “I am going to have you take this class for now,” with no other information on what the class even was, where they were, what age or anything—that was a little stressful just because it was my first time, but we made it and figured it out; the kids are very helpful and, for the most part, well-disciplined. They stand when you enter the room, stand to ask questions after being called on, stand simply to answer questions, address everyone as sir or madam, and just genuinely want to learn, something you don’t always find in the U.S. The English Comp class is basically grammar and some other things; we worked on subjects vs. objects, action verbs, adjectives, and friendly letters which was class six (roughly 11-13 years old).
Today was a trip. In the morning I taught a math class because the teacher just left and the kids finished their problems, eventually he came back but then he left again. We worked on slopes of lines and finding coordinates—something I hoped I would never have to teach. It took everything I had to not say, “FYI, you’re never going to use this again in the rest of your life.” Next class I taught was a Social Studies class and the teacher was actually there (I’m not exactly sure what was going on there), he just put his head down… Also, in Ghana, social studies spans a large amount of topics and it just so happened that today’s was conveniently SEX ED! These kids had supposedly heard of everything before but it didn’t seem like it so I was left to explain everything from ejaculation, erection, menstruation, ovulation, abortion, pregnancy, intercourse, to what to do if your penis gets stuck in the vagina (they had seen this happen with dogs and had to help)… See why today was a trip? The final class I taught today was English Comprehension; this consisted of me reading them a short story and asking questions to make sure they understood it.
They have a teacher’s “office” where only teachers are allowed to hang out; it overlooks the field that everyone uses as a bathroom—it’s quite a sight at lunch. There is a toilet for teachers, but it’s about the same as using the bathroom outside… Ghanaians will use the bathroom anywhere and by anywhere I truly mean ANYWHERE!
I checked with the head teacher today to see about when I will receive my schedule and he said maybe tomorrow (we know what that means)… I’ll probably go another week just filling in, it is a good way to meet the students and figure out where they are with their learning.