Monday, November 4, 2013

HF-L and the KNUST Basic School are...Different.

This was my classroom at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School.

This is my classroom at the KNUST Basic School
Today was another Monday that I missed seeing my students from HF-L. Instead of hopping in my white Ford Explorer Sport, heading down 390, and following some country roads while the sun rose, I walked down a dirt road, hailed a taxi cab, rode through the pot hole filled streets of a busy college campus, and arrived at the Basic School. I know that no matter where I had my second placement I would miss my students, so there is no surprise there; however, I am having trouble connecting with these students as I did with my HFL 11th graders and adjusting to the new environment. 

Before I even get into the differences in the students, the discrepancies between the amount of technology present in the classroom needs addressing. While I am in my Ghana classroom, I am breaking everything down to the bare bones of teaching. Students copy notes from the board, and there isn't a projector, smartboard, or even a computer in sight. Being creative is taking a lot more thought, and I am struggling a bit. My HF-L kids will remember at least one of my lessons that revolved around using SmartSoftware and the scentio remotes to survey the class - it was awesome (if I do say so). I can't even think about any of that while I am in this country.

Unlike traditional American high schools, teachers change classes, and students do not. I have three 8th grade classes: 8E, 8F, and 8G, and all three spend the entire day (except for their two half hour breaks) in their respective rooms. Because of this, I have no time to talk to students prior to class, and no students stay after class to talk with me. I believe that is where I forged some of the best relationships with students at HF-L. As if it wasn't hard enough that I don't have this time to spend with students, the three classes I have only meet three times a week, and each class has a minimum of 45 students! I thought my 28 student fourth set class was difficult, but this is on another level. 

While in my first placement, I was amazed to hear some analysis and thought that some of my students had. My favorite parts of some lessons was sitting back and listening to them spout brilliantly insightful responses and well thought out claims. Sometimes I would just sit back and listen and forget I had to teach. In this classroom, the students do not have as much freedom. When students are called on to answer a question, they stand up, recite their answer, and sit down. The questions are usually very black and white, and don't require much critical thinking. The teacher focuses a lot on proper grammar and punctuation, which can take away from other content sometimes and actually becomes the content in some cases. I want to work on unlocking some of this creativity, but I must do so slowly and carefully, so they are not too shocked at how different my lessons are from my cooperating teacher's lessons. 

To all my HF-L kids: I hope you are continuing to have a great year, and I hope you know that I am thinking of you all every day! I can't stress enough how much you have all impacted me as a teacher and as a human being. Hopefully Mrs. Borrelli is sharing this with you, and I hope you all keep up with this! If you have any pressing questions for me, you can go through Mrs. Borrelli, or ask her for my email.. I'd love to hear from you!

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