Larry and Sara have been working with the teachers in grades 2-4, both in class and in afternoon staff development, on strategies for teaching English, particularly using oral language beyond the parroting the students now do. None of us could imagine the lack of resources here – pencils of a ¼ inch shared between students, little or no paper, absolutely no books other than poor texts and workbooks that are largely beyond the student’s comprehension. Classes are overcrowded with furniture that is falling apart except for the new furniture provided as donations through Callabash Trust, the same group that organized our visit. At the same time, the teachers are bright, intelligent and caring and are eager to learn ways to reach their students. Most of the teachers have been very willing to try the new strategies and they have been excited about the results. Sara has been modeling lessons and Larry has been coaching the teachers.
Eileen has become the computer guru. When she showed the principal how to get his email working, he sincerely said, “you are a gift from God.” She spends most of her time trying to get their computer lab in decent shape. The donated computers are old and slow, connected to the Internet on a very slow land line. One of her first jobs was to try to get antivirus software installed and it took 10 days just to get someone out to this remote village. Then it took nearly 2 hours to install the software on each of the 8 aging and dusty computers. She’s been offering computer classes after school and the teachers are so excited to get to actually touch these machines. Only a handful have ever touched a keyboard, let alone a computer. Yet within a few ½ hour classes, they learned the basics of Word and are thrilled to be able to see their text in different styles. Nomthle, one of the most enthusiastic teachers, was absolutely elated when she learned how to change the font color, “I’m typing in ORANGE!!!” she exclaimed with enormous excitement, knowing she could now create fun things for her students. The next day class was cancelled because of some unforeseen teachers’ meeting and the teachers in Eileen’s class were not happy about that. She told them she would keep the lab open after the meeting. Nomthle came in after the meeting, saying, “I must peck away at this and learn something new every day.” Eileen showed her how to insert a table and the next day Nomthle was in the lab every free minute typing a chart for a class she is taking.
These teachers are the most extraordinary group of people, and we've grown to adore them. They have the best sense of humor, always joking with us and each other. They are always striving to improve themselves with course work or independent study.
Extracts from the Kuglers blog - for the full blog click the link below.
Kuglers August 2008 AV Bukani Addo South Africa
Contributor: The Kuglers