This was one of those weeks that you reflect on and can’t stop smiling, It was a week of learning for me. I have become somewhat of a floating teacher now as I teach the music section of vocational skills to the higher grades, but help the pre-primary teacher with the preparation and managing of her class. This has allowed me to work with a number of the learners in the school and honestly, all those children are the most amazing bundles of joy… even the naughtiest of the lot. On Tuesday I taught “Techniques of playing traditional instruments” to the Grade 5s; Not only did I manage to get to know the learners interests in music but I managed to learn more about Tanzanian traditional instruments through my preparation and teaching. Also, due to the limitations of the school there is only one text book per subject so I had to draw out all the instruments as well as the explanations for them to copy before the lesson began; this reminded me of the importance of good lesson planning, which I found many people take for granted, especial when volunteering or in private teaching (over and above this I have a new appreciation for photocopiers and textbook budgets).
On Wednesday the volunteers plan arts and crafts day and we go from class to class to do 20 or so minute workshops. This week we did join the dots for the three pre-primary classes, drawing and colouring for grades 1-4 and origami for the grade 5s. I love the idea of making a day in the week that focuses on the creatives. Though these activities seemed very simple for me, the way the learners opened up to it made me realize that it is not necessarily the activity that matters, it is the fact that they have a break from the traditional learning space and what better day for this to happen than in the middle of the week. It was also interesting for me to have to switch modes of teaching as we worked our way up to the older learners. In the beginning we, the volunteers, were hands on trying to help the little ones draw straight lines and colour in the lines then a few classes later we found ourselves handing out the prepared sheets and just supervising. Flexibility is something that I have struggled with for a long time and I think after a few more of these I will be able to work this weakness out.
Then today, Friday, was sports day. Last week we went to the Arusha sports stadium with the grades 1-5 as a few volunteers from the UK had come to train sports coaches from a local college. This week we stayed at the school and the day started as usual in the classrooms. After break, the grades 1 -5 were given about 45 minutes to play games and sing songs. Following which, the little ones got their turn. I cannot even begin to describe the energy, happiness and appreciation that was coming from the learners. I got involved in some of the games and listened in on some of the songs. There were two songs/games that caught my attention. The one spoke about the need for education and some of the lines of the song were, “we see the need of education/ I am a [insert career] because of education“. The other song lyrics were, “when I was a [insert career], a [career] was I” at this point all the learners who would like to be in this field enter the circle. They continue to sing “we go this way and that way and this way and that way” at which point they act out what they are going to do when in that field, for example the teacher marks and writes on the board. I found it very interesting to see what careers they inserted in and which of the learners came into the circle at which time. These songs were also an example of learning through son. I will definitely take these songs/games back with me; I think it is a more innovative way of getting children to think and talk about what they want to be when they grow up and what role education plays in their lives.