Thursday, November 7, 2013

First Day of Teaching and Dance Lessons

Today, the manager raised his right hand and I was called in from the bullpen - it was the day where I was finally able to get up in front of the class and teach (that is a totally American reference, but I couldn't help myself - it fit).

Some of my boys: Phillip (yellow), Kwaduo
(orange), and Elvis (purple)
My first lesson, albeit very simple, went very well, and I believe that the students will now be able to see me as their teacher, and not just a fun new person who sits in the classroom, as this picture may suggest. The lesson involved a reading comprehension passage about communicating using the telephone. I activated the students' schema (recalled prior knowledge) at the beginning of the lesson and talked about ways that they communicate every day. The students were excited to talk about the many social networks they belong to, which worked absolutely perfectly for the lesson, which discusses old communication devices and newer devices. Something that I observed in several classes, and something that my teacher asked me to do, is read through the passage several times with the class. When I saw my teacher teach a lesson similar to this, my teacher read the passage once, and then called on six students in a row to read the passage out loud (half each, so three times through, four times total). While this happened, what I really saw was one student standing up and reading aloud, and 44 other students picking their nose, poking their neighbor, or falling asleep. This way of reading is not engaging in the least. I do not want to disturb the teacher's processes and student learning by making a splash with all my new and different teaching techniques, so instead, I am slowly testing the water, and infusing a little bit of myself into each lesson I produce. In order to change this process slowly, I read the passage first, and then, before I had the first two students read the passage, I gave the students a focus question to ponder while reading. None of the questions I provided could be directly answered, but certain ideas could be found in the text. Unlike what I observed, the students were very engaged while they read, and many students were able to pull out important pieces of information to answer the given questions, which will help them even further when they are assigned comprehension questions that are based on the article and are graded. I will continue to add more and more of my American flavor to this classroom, and hopefully the students will end up better off because of it.

After school, our Geneseo/UAlbany group took part in a cultural seminar of sorts that involved a lot of dancing and a lot of sweating. We were taught several traditional Ghanaian dances from different regions of the country. I am unable to remember the names of these dances because I was too busy trying to learn them and trying not to pass out. Even at dusk, the heat was heavy and suffocating. Our two teachers, Flavor and Alaska, pushed us through the pain and helped us to the best of their abilities - as you may imagine, a dance instructor named Flavor may have a little bit more flavor than me. Despite the sweat, and now, as I write this, sore muscles, the group had a good time. Apparently we are going to continue with these dance lessons in the coming weeks, and on Thanksgiving, give a little performance. I am not sure where, to whom, or how exactly this is going to happen, but I hope for your sake that there is some sort of video evidence. For now, settle for some photographic evidence:

Just a few "obrunis" (white people...I have been referred to as
 this several times) getting down with it 

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