Back to school

Quite a lot of time was taken up today in activities where I couldn’t write this as I wanted, so it’s going to be a shorter post than intended, but after being in Ghana two weeks and observing lessons much of last week, yesterday I taught my second ever lesson, the first ever one being on Monday.

And they went pretty well if I do say so myself.

Ok, so that’s not quite true – I taught lindy hop (swing dancing) for most of a year, but that that wasn’t circular motion, and let’s be honest, which is easier? Dancing or physics?!

I’ve been planning how I wanted to teach for the couple of weeks I’ve been here based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve learnt having no actual teaching experience. So firstly I’d like to thank all the teachers and friends who have helped give me support, advice, and courage up to now. So thank you all of you. You were and are all wonderful in your help!

The two lessons so far have been on circular motion and centripetal force. I even managed to find some pendulums to use. Also it rained yesterday so I struck a bucket out to collect some water and proceeded to spin it over my head! They thought that was brilliant! 😀

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The rain (if you can see it). Quite the downpour!

So the lessons went ok. I managed to finish on time in both having covered all I aimed to cover. The biggest potential issue in my mind in teaching the students in this school will be motivation!

Due to the way the education system works in Ghana, most of the students are at this specific school because they have very low grades. This could be for all the standard reasons but it basically boils down to, for what ever reason, they don’t want to, or can’t learn.

On top of this is the teachers general lack of respect for  the students. Trying to filter out what is a cultural difference from what is an actual issue is hard to do from a western perspective, but I would say an easy example is students are not really allowed to talk to the teachers much to explain their actions for pretty much anything or in most other contexts fig they haven’t been asked something directly. It’s not 100% the case, but it’s so different dro. The UK. All the students look and sound cowed!

From my perspective planning a lesson this means I’m worried about participation and engagement. If teachers might cane for being late to school, lack of homework, not knowing an answer in class and many other things. But don’t seem to care much about talking in class or students moving around during class either, I think.it generates a bad school environment filled with fear and confusion over what is important.

I’m also worried about the quality of written notes too.

So what am I doing? Em so far I’ve given them all a small booklet with red, orange and green pages so when I ask a question they hold it up to correspond with how well they can answer. I want to get them standing and doing something themselves at least once per lesson. I want them knowing why they are learning something and engaged with their own learning. I’m setting lesson aims, start of class questions and recalling previous lessons to reinforce material. I’m doing worked examples and want to do practicals when and if I can.

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I'm also obviously making lesson plans, mostly in the staff room like here.

So far (only two lessons mind) it’s going ok. They say they like it, but I don’t think they’d say anything else at this stage. The two teachers who have watched have liked it so far too, but they also say Ghanaian students are just different so these western style methods won’t work. Me? I want to try them first before I give in. And there’s no way I’ll be able to cane them, what ever else happens.

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4 thoughts on “Back to school

  1. Sounds like you’ve made a good start. Have you read Carol Dweck’s book on mindsets? Might be an interesting place to start in terms of motivation but sounds like you’ll have an uphill battle given the environment. Obviously the idea of caning is hideous in any form but doing it for getting an answer wrong just hurts every teacher bone in my body!

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    1. No I’ve not read it but I’ve read other ones that menrtion mindset. It might be a bit hard to get it while I’m out here too.

      And yes, i have to just leave when I see the caning. Utterly cannot take it. Some od the other punishments are equally confusing too – kneeling at the front od the class, for the whole of the remainder of the class. And manual labour instead of going to class as normal.

      I brought up the concept of removal of privilages (break time/prayer time/going home after school) as a method of punishment today, and they were actually quite interested! Quite positive I thought.

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