Friday, February 3, 2012

Lesson planning - Mozambique style

Truthfully, I’ve never planned a lesson really before this last month. I’ve planned a number of meetings, etc. but never anything in a) a language I’m still struggling with and b) a subject I’m not completely comfortable with. So when the teachers’ meetings started, I was rather excited to get some guidance on the chemistry curriculum and to begin planning the year. However, things (per usual) didn’t go quite as planned. 1) I am the only chemistry teacher. While I kind of knew this when I moved to site, I hadn’t realized how much being the only chemistry teacher would matter. My sitemate, Zach, who is teaching English had someone to at least talk him through the basics of all of the required forms for curriculum formation, where as I was kind of just floating in space for awhile.

This was partially due to the fact that Estrela do Mar coordinates their curriculum and final examinations with another tech school in Inhambane City – so I wanted to wait to form my curriculum until I could coordinate with the other teachers. This meeting was supposed to take place on January 24th, about a week before school started. It ended up taking place on January 31st, aka the second day of school. So I wrote out an entire curriculum that I didn’t really end up using because the teachers in Inhambane City have actually taught chemistry before, and obviously have better Portuguese skills than I do, so the joining of curriculums ended up being a little one-sided. While I understand scheduling issues, it was just so strange to me that this meeting took place after school had already begun and after the teachers had already (theoretically) spent 2 weeks on their lesson planning.

I still am unsure how some teachers managed to do any lesson planning as we did not have a “final” (it’s been completely overhauled at least three times since then and I’m still missing a class . . . ) teaching schedule until the first day of school. While I at least knew that I would be teaching 1st year chemistry (because there are no other chemistry classes) other teachers only had a vague idea of what year and sometimes of what subject they would be teaching. On the first day, the national anthem started at 6:45 am and then all the teachers had a meeting at 7:00 am, the time school was theoretically supposed to start. I’m fairly impressed with students’ ability to go with the flow, the teachers’ meeting didn’t end until almost 9 am when they finally handed out our schedules (which, to be fair, are put together without a computer, so I’m really actually pretty impressed) and I found out that I had already missed my first class. A lot of the teachers didn’t even teach their classes the first week because they were engaged in the overhaul of the schedule – trying to make it so they taught 3 classes in a row, instead of having a lot of “free” time. I tried my darnedest to stay out of that process, my schedule is a little weird on some days, but I just did not want to get involved with all of the trading of class times, etc.

Anyways, I am currently attempting to collect little demonstrations and experiments that are feasible without any type of lab equipment (so if you happen to have any ideas, please email me). This weekend is devoted to looking through the new curriculum from the Inhambane school and trying to make it make sense to me while still ensuring that my students at least have the opportunity to learn everything they’ll need to know for the test. It’ll all work out in the end and I’m actually kind of happy that I now have no choice but to improve my Portuguese.

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