Thursday, February 25, 2016

Observations at Chawama

A little blurry from the moving car -- one of many "lakes" on our drive 
February is the middle of the rainy season here.  This year however the rain has not been as plentiful as usual.  The water table remains low and rolling blackouts and water rationing continue.  The heat yesterday reminded us of the heat in October or November.  This morning my window was open and I could feel a breeze and later the wind.  Suddenly it grew a bit dark.  The thunder started rolling, lightening flashed, and the rain poured down.  It was a welcomed sight but the lake-like puddles in the road delayed traffic and made our drive to Chawama a challenge.
Jeno checking for understanding
Mabuchi and I observed four teachers today at Chawama.  We began with Jeno, the grade seven teacher who sometimes wears a lab coat.  He had training from me in November.  He taught a lesson on multiplying fractions.  The students seemed to grasp the concepts and interact well. During the post-observation conference I reminded him how to represent fractions with pictures as well as using the algorithm to solve the problem.  He had many questions and is eager to learn.

Grade 7 students discuss how they solved the problem

Teacher Mercy write the lesson on the board - Mabuchi looks on
One of the new teachers, Mercy, teaches grade one. She drew pictures on the board for the students to count and asked them to write the numbers represented. During the post-observation conference she said that next time she would use concrete objects instead to teach the concepts.  We discussed what type of concrete objects she might use for counters including the students’ fingers.

Precious, the grade two teacher, who has had one training, taught a lesson about things we use to stay clean, such as toothpaste, soap, a towel etc. 
Teacher Precious takes her teaching seriously
The students did well on the assignment and during the post-observation conference the teacher mentioned several ways she could make the lesson more relevant to the students.

Mr. Lundu's kind and soft spoken manner add to his love for children
The grade three lesson was on division.  The teacher, Mr. Lundu, who has received no training, introduced the concept by saying division comes from the word “divide” and divide means to share. I thought phrasing it in such a way described it well and made sense to the students. Mr. Lundu used a lot of “turn and talk” during the lesson and “write the number on your paper and share with your friends.”  The number he used for the students to divide was quite large which made it difficult for his pupils to solve but he was on the right track with his engagement strategies.

Finally, we ended our observations with Miss Mtonga, the new grade four teacher.  She began with a review from yesterday about synonyms and introduced today’s lesson about antonyms.  She had some good strategies in place and we were able to talk about how to make her practice stronger by utilizing a few others.
Miss Mtonga writes the exercise on the board
During the post-observation conference time with teachers I always go back and ask about the learning objective; what specifically the teacher wants the students to learn that day. That usually takes some discussion before we get to the specific objective and understanding of what they should teach.  Writing a clear and concise objective is a challenge for most teachers.  We will continue to practice this.
Grade three students share their answers with their partners

The skies cleared up at the end of the day and the sun came back out.  In fact it is quite warm again this evening.  There might be rain again tomorrow.

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