Grade level in Zambia is not determined by age. Students generally start first grade at age six but grade one can include any beginning student regardless of age. This is why when viewing the photos in this blog you might see older students even adolescents sitting in primary grades. Some students must work in the fields or care for a sick relative instead of attending school and then start back at school wherever they left off. Mabuchi and I try to encourage older students to persevere.
For this portion of the project Mabuchi and I will observe as many teachers as possible and provide positive feedback as well as suggestions but only if teachers want them. Mabuchi will be observing in classes where Tumbuka is the primary language of instruction. I will be observing in classes where English is the primary language of instruction.
Today we returned to Kaponga and Mazulouwa. We met with the teachers at Kaponga and asked each one what the children would be learning or the objective of the lesson.
The head teacher, a
government teacher, seemed unsure of what he was going to teach so we gave him
a minute to look through his books to determine his lesson objective which he
still had difficulty articulating. A new volunteer with no training told me he was
teaching “the sky.” After asking
many questions I was still unsure exactly what he was teaching but during the
observation realized the story in the book was called “The Sky” about a girl
who sees a bright star in the sky and her grandfather tells her it is not a
star but a planet called Venus. He,
like so many other teachers, teach like they were taught, reading the story and
then writing the fill in the blank questions on the board without understanding
what the students should learn by the lesson. He later told me his grade 5 and
6 students cannot read in any language, especially English. After observing and providing feedback Mabuchi and I decided there is still much work to be done here.
|Teachers of Kaponga|
Mabuchi never misses an opportunity to encourage the girls to stay in school and avoid "early marriage." In this culture the boy or man's family must pay a bride price before marriage. Many families with girls view this as a way to make money. Sometimes young girls are "sold" to older men with other wives.
We arrived at Mazulouwa after a relatively short drive where we met our two volunteer teachers. Both have had some training from me. After some questioning and paraphrasing the teachers were able to articulate an objective for their lessons.
taught a math lesson from the book on multiple digit subtraction. Although he
uses only Zambian methods to teach the content, he utilized many engagement
strategies to make sure the students understood.
|Mr. Nyirenda provides additional support to those who need it|
|Some of the grade one students|
|Some students are a bit distracted by the white woman in the back of class|
|Students predict the number of squares in various grids|
|These girls show me a 3X3 grid has nine squares|
|The head teacher's enthusiasm engages the students in the story|
I will leave you with this photo of a typical afternoon sky we see as we drive through the countryside. Mabuchi teases me for me frequent comments about how beautiful the clouds are or how blue the sky looks. These are things my Zambian friends do not notice.