So we started teaching a few weeks ago. I'm teaching Standard 7 Maths and Standard 6 English, with the children's ages ranging from about 10-18, as they are classed by ability rather than age.. But then saying that they are all very different in ability! In each standard there are about 100 children, but they are split into 2 classes: 7A and 7B and then 6A and 6B, so there's usually about 50 in each lesson and you repeat the same lesson with each class. School starts at 6:45am and then finishes about 1pm, which means I'm having to get used to waking up at about 5:30am!
Surprisingly its not going too badly. At first I was worried about teaching Maths as I haven't done it for years and I'm not particularly good at it, but I've actually found that it's a lot easier to explain than English!
The school has very few resources - I have been given the only 2 Maths books to teach from (thankfully, one book gives a brief lesson plan for each lesson).. The problem is that I've found the books have mistakes in them, so I have to check every answer is correct before teaching it, which makes doing lesson plans a long task. Most students don't have books so I write everything on the chalkboard. This is going quite well - In Maths I usually write the questions on the board, get the pupils to have a go at answering them in groups, get them to write their answers on the board and then go through and explain the answer. They seem to understand most of the time.
In my first lesson I collected in the books for marking - I soon regretted this and realized I couldn't do it every lesson though, as I had over 100 mark!
One thing I've noticed is that no one will ever ask questions. I don't know whether that's because its thought to be rude to ask, or just because they're embarrassed to do so, but every time I ask if there's any questions they all answer with a synchronized "YES".. Even if they don't understand at all, which is pretty unhelpful. The teachers are the same in that if you ask how a lesson went or how to improve teaching, they'll just answer "it was good" even if it really really wasn't!
English went a lot worse than Maths at first. One of the teachers was ill, meaning both of the standard 6 classes were put together, so in my first ever English lesson I had over 100 pupils and I was on my own because the other teacher had some paperwork to do. Bearing in the mind it was the first time I've ever taught anyone, it was a little daunting! The aim of the lesson was to read a short story and answer comprehension questions on it. This was difficult. About 5 children out of the 100 had the exercise books with the story in it, so when I asked one child to read aloud to the class, the rest of the class couldn't follow it, and it was too much for them to take in all at once with their basic English. And then it started to rain - as in full on pour down and there's no windows on the rooms so even when I was screaming they couldn't hear the story at all. So instead I tried to ask questions but they didn't understand and justrepeated everything I asked. Eventually I gave up and we made up actions to words from the story and played hang-a-man with these words. They really enjoyed it but I don't think they learnt anything!
Luckily, since the first lesson things have got better. The children are beginning to answer the questions instead of just repeating them! I re-did the lesson on the story and it went a lot better, and then this week I have been teaching about HIV/AIDS. I got them to repeat everything I taught about 20 times in the hope that they would understand/remember some of it, and I've been writing everything on the board as they seem to understand things better in writing. They seemed to understand A LOT more than they did in the first lesson and managed to answer the questions I asked. I just hope they really did understand as HIV/AIDS is a bit problem here so it's important!
I'd definitely say the most difficult part of teaching is actually figuring out the timetable. It's so so confusing and I have no idea where I'm supposed to be most of the time! The timetable is pretty jam packed like back to back lessons, which would be fine except lessons NEVER run on time and no one seems to follow the timetable. Each lesson is 35 minutes (sometimes double lessons) but there's no bell or warning at the end of theclass so youhave to clock watch, then leave the class you are in to rush to the next one. I've managed to miss a good few lessons because I don't know what time they were supposed to end so was still teaching the previous lesson! Often I find that a lesson will end up being 15 minutes long rather than 35 minutes long because the lesson or break before had overrun, and then I don't have enough time to teach everything I'd planned. On the few days I have actually managed to teach all of my lessons I've felt so impressed with myself!
Also, according to the teaching guides we need 11 lessons on each topic, but we only get 8. Add this with all of the time you loose due to lessons not starting on time, and it's so difficult to fit it all in. There's not enough time to revise everything properly, or even start some topics!
The majority of the children are really enthusiastic and want to learn, but there are some who are really distracting and it gets really difficult to control the classes, especially by the end of the day as they start to get tired/bored and become really noisy. I'm going to have to start some sort of punishment so that the others can still learn without getting distracted. The problem is that here the teachers hit the pupils if they are misbehaving. Its usually not anything really violent and it doesn't seem to hurt them, but I really disagree with it. Because the children are used to this kind of punishment, they don't seem to respond to any other kind of punishment.
On the whole I'm enjoying it, but this teaching business is also so exhausting! Especially as as soon as lessons finish many of the children have been coming to see us so we barely get a break. I've taught them how to play snap and noughts and crosses, which they have never heard of before and I've also started giving extra English and Maths help. I also spent some time colouring with the children who have disabilities the other day, which they really enjoyed. I'm having a really good time but it's tiring with the children there all the time! On Friday at about 7pm all the children were outside screaming and playing football, and I was inside going to sleep!