Thursday, December 23, 2010

Teaching Practicum

During my time in Lotofaga I had the wonderful experience of working in the local primary school. We had two weeks of teaching practicum, which we spent first observing, then co-teaching, then flying solo. It was an incredibly eye opening experience. Some lessons I learned; I love teaching. The language of “human” will over come any language barrier. In Samoa I may be called on to teach anything at any time regardless of age group or experience…. Yay for teaching science to year one. Teachers may or may not show up to school. The range in language level within a classroom can be from fluent to nonexistent, and you have to find a way to teach to both. Corporal punishment and just plain old hitting happens a lot and I have to make myself swallow it. Lunch time, tea time, and smoke breaks take precedence over class time...oh yeah and on pay day class will probably end two or three hours yearly so the teachers can get to the bank before it closes. All teachers are taught to teach incredibly traditionally, strictly listen repeat. All classes are structured to get the students to pass a standardized government test that determines which schools they will get at age 12. Oh yeah and did I mention the exam is in English. So imagine taking the SAT in a foreign language at age 12 to get into college. I have also learnt that Samoan kids are amazing, resilient, and no matter what, quick to smile. The greatest lesson that I have learned is that even in this kind of crazy school environment, I can make learning a lot of fun for them. I can get them to love learning English. I can’t wait to get started and show through example both to teachers and students that the best teacher tool is fun.

Best teaching practicum memory; using the Justin Beiber song “Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Lover” in the classroom with year eight. I first taught the rhyme, then the song, and then they wrote a dialogue based on it. Last but not least they acted out their scenes and performed the song for all the other teachers. The pride on their faces was priceless; they learned a lot of vocabulary, gained confidence speaking, and composed dialogue. It was my favorite classroom moment yet. In the hour I watched them go from spiritless drones repeating everything with no clue what was being said, to a bunch a vivacious teenagers having a blast and baring realizing they were learning. 

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