The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach nor the Namibia Ministry of Education, but rather my personal views.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Need Help

Snippets of my Popular Phrases Solo on Friday, 5 March 2010:

“Ha---Rold! Sit Down!”
“Yes, ‘more than’ means ‘bigger.’ “
“No, the computer room is full. Sessions will begin at the end of March. Today is just for testing these learners.”
“Whoa, Panduleni! Check your work. Is that really the correct answer?”
“Ha---Rold! Sit Down!”
“Who turned their computer off?!? Chanique! What did I say about touching that button?”
“Yes, Ronaldino? You may go to the toilet.”
“This is called a mouse. Hold it like this. No, like this. Relax your hand and fingers. Good.”
“Who called me?”
“Ha---Rold! Sit Down!”
“No, you may not enter today. The computer room is full. We are just testing these learners. We will officially re-open at the end of March.”
“Yes, I see, Marchelle. You entered the right answer. Great job. Now, click the forward arrow for the next question.”
“A penny is a coin we use in the United States. Those are pennies in the box. How many pennies do you see? Een? Twee? Drie? Vier? Vyf? Baie.”
“Theresa, did you say you can’t open your account? Okay. Let’s see if we can find the problem. One minute.”
“Ha---Rold! Sit Down! If I have to say that one more time…..”

That afternoon was pure energy. I had about 40 learners show up for a session that was designated for 25 pre-selected learners (the maximum the Centre could hold). The goal was to administer a mathematics assessment and expose a few learners to the Centre’s resources and rules before it fully re-opens. So, after admitting the originally-selected twenty-five, I had to deal with the other 15 who simply would not leave the front door. I should be happy that the interest is high, but it was truly exhausting.

Within the class of 25, I had another three sub-groups.

1. Those learners who never touched a computer before and needed basic orientation
2. Those learners who never used the PLATO software and needed guidance on how to log-in and navigate within the system
3. Those learners who spent much of the past year in the Centre, apparently doing whatever in the world they pleased. (they were the most unfocused and disruptive of the bunch).

So with the four populations of learners, all primary school age I might add, in extended testing mode, often wanting affirmation and to share praise received from the computer, and without fully functioning air-conditioning units, and as the only adult in the room, I had my hands completely full. Yes, I needed and still need help. All super-puns included, and you can let it mean what you like.

The experience, as always, though, was instructive. I had not had such a draining time with any group of learners in my former Centre in Khorixas. I also had already conducted the same exercise with 75 other learners from seven other Keetmanshoop schools, without this resultant admitted sense of chaos. I guess it was time I got a sense of the classroom management problems that other volunteers had mentioned often. It was also good to see the challenges that would face those who would assume leadership hopefully before and definitely after my departure here in Keetmanshoop.

I already have signs on the doors explaining the current activities of the Centre and the fact that the Centre will not re-open until the end of March. I immediately began drafting a flyer for grade 12 learners to apply to become Volunteer Centre Captains; they can help manage crowds outside and answer basic questions inside. I also immediately began creating big posters with the Centre Rules. Finally, I drafted a request for teachers to shadow me in the Centre as Senior Teacher Ambassadors. I already have a group of teachers from each of the nine schools to serve as “regular” Teacher Ambassadors,” for the purposes of planning and general advocacy, but I needed them to step up their game. The lure for these “Senior” ambassadors was a t-shirt (I picked up a few during my business trip to meet the software account personnel in Johannesburg in November), and a certificate (which I would make look so nice and official that framing would be likely).

I will see how many assistants my efforts have yielded by Friday, 12 March. Until then, grant me the strength. Or at least help me learn how to say all of the phrases above in both Afrikaans and Nama/Khoekhoegowab.

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