Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wrapping Up Teacher Observations May 26 & 27

Molozi & Mtelwe 
After our holiday yesterday we were back in the truck at 7 as usual and headed to Molozi.  Mr. Lungu had a well-prepared lesson and utilized many engagement strategies including turn and talk, drawing, and singing. 
Mr Lungu checks in with students for accuracy 
The content could have been more rigorous but I was pleased overall with his implementation.  Mabuchi observed the new teacher, Mr. Mkondawire, teach the younger students.  He is still learning some of the strategies but we are confident with more practice he will excel.  The head teacher, who was present today but is often absent due to illness, watched the lessons but did not teach.
Mr. Mkwandawire, The Head Teacher, Mr. Lungu, and Mabuchi

When we approached Mtelwe, our driver Moffat decided to pick up a few students along the way, hoping the sight of familiar faces in the back of our truck would not scare off the people in the village like our last visit.  Of course more and more children wanted to ride in the truck.  For most of them this was there first ride ever in a vehicle!
The district education office is organizing a sports day for area schools next week.  This means one or two teachers from each school must walk the children to a centrally located school – often several hours walk away – where they will spend the night and participate in competing sports with neighboring schools. Today a couple teachers were gone to turn in the necessary paperwork.  Without email or even transportation this process is long and arduous. The two remaining teachers were not fully prepared but did their best at presenting a lesson. 
The teacher demonstrates on the board the algorithm for subtraction
The one lesson was on subtraction with regrouping.  Like so many villages I visit, the children do not have a good grasp of numbers – even simple addition or subtraction. 
The students watch the teacher
The older students are counting on their fingers or making tick marks to solve the problems.  And here like many villages, the teachers would like to learn more mathematics methodologies.

Students want to shake my hand

As we were leaving a few children timidly reached out to shake my hand.  Of course I welcomed this gesture and soon a large crowd formed. 
It took a while to shake all the hands so while waiting Mabuchi took the opportunity to have a discussion with the girls about staying in school and avoiding early marriage.

Mabuchi with the older girls
Donje and Chimozi

Our friends the Johnsons have been hearing all about our work in schools and joined us along with their language tutor Mrs. Mwanza. 
Mr. Nyirenda has the children collect colors used in the flag
We returned to the village of Chimozi and were grateful to see the teachers and students present.  The two volunteer teachers show promise in their engagement strategies.  With more practice and coaching they will be well on their way to quality instruction.
The teacher randomly calls on students to explain the significance of each color

Mabuchi and I are so pleased to see the head teacher, who is a government teacher, not only grasping the theory of the methodologies but also teaching effectively.  In the mathematics lesson I observed the children using stones for manipulatives. 
It was obvious the head teacher had been practicing various engagement strategies and the students had used manipulatives before. When he started his lesson the children knew to turn and talk about the problem and use the stones to find the answer.
The head explains how he engages the students
The head teacher sets a positive tone in the school where the  teachers enjoy working with the students and the children enjoy learning. H
e also works closely with the volunteers and assists them in their lesson planning.

With some help from Charles Johnson, Mrs, Nyirenda's class learns about types of soil

Our next stop was Donje.  
Our two teachers explain what the students will be learning
Again, a couple teachers were not present because they were turning in paperwork for the sports day.  We were however able to observe a couple teacher who were present.  Chifumu, a teacher who has attended two trainings from me in the past, taught a lesson on the flag of Zambia.  
Chifumu begins by showing a picture of the flag
He had the attention of the students the moment he began.  He asked a question to see if students were ready to learn and immediately they all put their thumbs up. When he asked a question about the colors of the flag the students knew to turn and talk without any teacher direction.
Students know to help each other
 When the questions increased in difficulty the students knew to not only ask their seat partners but the students in front or behind.  It was obvious he practices this type of teaching everyday.  During our reflective conversation after the lesson, Chifumu had difficulty describing what he did and why.  He knows it works and the students learn and that's all he needs to know.
I help him understand by explaining why his strategies are effective
Mabuchi observed the other teacher who also had many strategies in place.
The PTA chairman stopped by and shared some pumpkins with us. Charles was especially fond of this one.

Mabuchi greets the women
These women were waiting for a ride to town to catch a bus to another village and place a tombstone on the grave of their pastor and friend who passed away a year ago.  We happily provided a ride for them.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Africa Freedom Day - May 25

Schools were closed today because of the holiday, Africa Freedom Day.  In Lusaka there would be festivities, speeches, singing and dancing but here it’s just another quiet day in this small town. 
Hot water heating for morning "bathing" as its is called 
My day started as it does on many days with a trip to the fire where the water is heating outside. The host at the guesthouse pours hot water and cold water into my shower bag and helps me hang it in the shower area. 

My handy shower
Thank goodness for REI where I purchased my camping shower, mosquito net sleeping tent, and travel washrag and towel. 

I love my mosquito net (and clothes closet)
I am also thankful for my daily dose of Via coffee since real coffee is almost non-existent here. (Thank you Mr. Valencia!) When we spend the day in the field Mabuchi and I make peanut butter sandwiches with real Zambian peanut butter plus or minus bananas but today there is no need for such.

Mabuchi and I met and planned for the training we will hold on Monday and Tuesday.  I took the next few hours to get all my ideas on paper.  Needing a break and some fresh air Mabuchi and I met up in the afternoon to collect materials for demonstrating math games. 
Since we need to use whatever teachers have in the villages we limited our options to no cost/low cost items. To demonstrate addition with regrouping we will use sticks for the tens and could use stones for the ones.  Not wanting to collect a lot of stones and wash them we decided to use some beans we have and bottle tops.  It might be something teachers would not think to use.  We went to the corner bar and asked if they would collect bottle tops for us over the next few days, which they were happy to do.  And yes, many villages have access to bottles with bottle tops. We then wandered through the market and found some egg trays which will work nicely for demonstrating the concept of multiplication.  
Here are some other Zambian delicacies I learned about while visiting the market. 

Caterpillars and dried fish - good source of protein

A different kind of caterpillar and beans

Dried eel anyone?  Mabuchi doesn't care much for it.
I suppose the lack of food I find appealing is one of the greatest challenges of being here for me.  I really miss raw green vegetables and a variety of fruit.

This evening like many evenings we walked by the "pitch" and watched a bit of soccer.  I'll include a couple other photos from today.
I get plenty of stares from adorable children all the time

And sometimes I'm just a little to scary to look at

Tomorrow we are back in the villages observing teachers.

Return to Kachere & Ikwele, and Chaphanji & Chimozi – May 23 & 24

Students "think, pair, share" to find the answer
Unlike our journeys to other villages the road to Kachere and Ikwele is paved until we turn off for the last several kilometers.  Even so, it takes roughly an hour and a half to reach the first village. 
Teacher Ida is doing a great job engaging all learners!

 At Kachere we found almost all the teachers present.  Mabuchi modeled one lesson for the head teacher and we observed the others.  Ida, the grade one and two teacher did an excellent job engaging the students and using math manipulatives (stones) to help the students understand the concept of adding money. She introduced the concept with lots of practice before getting out the pencil and paper!
Students use stones for "money" to solve the problems. 
Kachere is looking forward to having furniture which will be delivered and assembled sometime in the next few weeks. 

Some of the students at Ikwele
Ikewle has four government school and three volunteer teachers. 
Volunteer teacher monitoring his students
Some of the government teachers do not take much interest in our program but the volunteers and one government teacher show lot of enthusiasm for engagement strategies. 
Mabuchi and I both watched two teachers each.  The teachers show promise – with more practice and training the teachers will be able to implement the strategies well.
Government teacher teaches about adjectives
In the reflective conference after the lesson, both teachers I observed, were able to tell me what they would do differently next time they taught the same lesson to make it better. Reflecting after the lesson and articulating how to change it to be more effective is a difficult concept for most of the teachers we encounter in Eastern Province. I shared that my best teachers back home always had many ideas to make a lesson better. They both left the conversation smiling and feeling proud.
We picked up a few students on the way to school

The next day we returned to the most remote village, Chaphanji, where we observed two lessons.  As I mentioned the last time we visited this village, the students often do not attend school.  Today many showed up to see the “white woman” visiting the village again. 
Mabuchi conferences with the teachers
I observed Mr. Zimba (yes another one – it’s a very common last name here) who tried to teach primarily in English while Mabuchi observed Mr. Phiri (another common name) who taught in Tumbuka.  During the reflective conference after the lessons, it was obvious that Mr. Zimba understands many of the concepts and ideas of student engagement but needs more practice and coaching before he's able to fully implement.  Mr. Phiri needs more modeling.  I’m hoping the training will help these teachers.  
Mr. Zimba, Mabuchi, Mr. Zozi and Mr. Phiri

The headman of the village always comes to greet me and takes an interest in what we are doing.  Unfortunately something happened to my photo card and my pics from this part of the day are no longer on my computer.  You cannot see the pumpkin the headman's wife prepared for us that provided a nice snack before continuing on to Chimozi.
We find the school empty - the children have left to earn money for the PTA
When we arrived at Chimozi we found out that the students had been sent to work in the fields to raise money for a lunch for the PTA.  There will be a parent meeting with the parents, school committee, and teachers with lunch provided.  Thus the need to fund raise for the lunch.  We rescheduled for Friday and will hopefully see all the teachers and students present.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Game Park May 21 & 22

Mabuchi, me, Charles and Melissa Johnson pose by the river at the game park
The Johnsons are the new Presbyterian (PCUSA) missionaries here in Lundazi.  Mr. Johnson has a background in business and agriculture.  Mrs. Johnson worked in a law firm managing payroll and insurance. The Johnsons have wanted to come to Africa for some time so with their children grown, the time was right.  Charles will be working with the agriculture and development aspect at Chasefu Seminary out here in Eastern Province.  Melissa hasn’t decided her role exactly but she is a woman with many talents who will excel wherever she decides to land. 
View of our cabin at Marula

Wanting to visit the game park and offering to drive us, Mabuchi and I found ourselves back on the road this time with the Johnsons headed for Mfuwe.  We arrived at Marula Lodge in time to get settled in our room and then have dinner. Mabuchi chose the bed by the wall instead of the window when she heard that hippos and elephants sometimes come to graze in the garden outside. 
Crossing into the game park at sunrise
The next morning before sunrise we were in the vehicle with our guide at the game park.  We saw many beautiful birds and animals.  
I was so excited for Mabuchi since many Zambian never get to experience seeing wildlife in their own country.  
We also went on an evening game ride and saw more beautiful animals and scenery.  Although we saw no cats everyone enjoyed the experience. The photos tell the story.
A young male gives us the once over

Cape Buffalo herd
Elephants are my favorite

I'd never seen an elephant do this before

Hanging with the giraffes

One of the many beautiful sunsets

The next morning before getting back on the road for Lundazi, some elephants came to call outside the dining room.  Mabuchi was a bit nervous being this close but we assured her she was safe as long as we were all quiet and still. Again I will let the photos speak.