The first two weeks here we learned about safety and security. These past two weeks, however, we have been learning a lot of language and teaching/educational/cultural differences for our classrooms. I really enjoy learning about the cultural differences here. The teaching styles are quite disparate. The classrooms here can easily have 100+ students. It makes me shake my head when I think about the teacher union stooges back home crowing about class sizes. Really?
And over here many students do not have textbooks, so you need to make them a book by writing everything on the board, which they then write down, creating their own text, per se. Also, the disciplinary structure is definitely centered around the corporal punishment system. It is both shocking and sad. You can beat, spank, and throw out students as local teachers see fit. As Americans, we are encouraged to teacher alternatives methods, which I support. However, we’ll see how that goes, as the children are used to harsh punishments.
Male students will often sleep with the female students. If the girl students need supplies, then some will offer their bodies for exchange of school supplies or clothes. It’s awful, but thankfully I am allowed to report it to Peace Corps. Apparently the country is trying to decrease these dehumanizing behaviors and move in a more modern direction of human dignity. Given the deeply ingrained cultural norms, however, I know that will take multiple generations. Nonetheless, we all do what we can. Think globally, act locally, right?
Our classes also consist of working with other teachers, planning lessons, co-teaching/planning, different teaching strategies, lots of medical/dental information, and we are learning our specific sector – mine is Science, SVT. Next week we will be starting modeling school. We have been doing language classes about twice a day. I have become so tired from stress and trying to keep up with all the information. One day at a time, I guess.
I am, however, excited to start lesson planning, science specific vocabulary, and school/classroom structure. We will start to become actual teachers! I heard a rumor that we might be receiving a certificate for teaching, but that might be only for English teachers – which I don’t think is very fair, given that we are all learning how to teach, AND in a new language, AND0 in a very short amount of time. SVT is the hardest because it’s entirely in French with a complicated, specialized vocabulary. And for the preschool teachers, they have to learn French and the local language to teach the little kids. I would really like a certificate; it would look good on a resume.
Normally we have language at 8-10am, then again from 15:45- 17:15pm. Or we have language back to back, and that’s stressful. It hurts my brain. Lol. I’m super stressed about the language. I can picture the word in my head, but cannot think of how to say it. I can feel the stress in my stomach. It’s not clicking fast enough for me to feel comfortable here in Burkina. Other people are comprehending it faster. It makes me feel dumb. I need to practice the pronunciations a lot, too.
I seem to never get a break because when I come home from a long day, my family wants to talk to me, or I have homework, or – usually – both. They want to know all about America. Showering and dinner is a long process. Then on Sunday, I try to decompress, but we have to do laundry, homework, hang out with our families, etc. Right now, it is a very intense period. I thought the application process was intense, but that was just anticipation. We will never stop learning over the course of our time here in Burkina.
My goal is to continue to learn French and to work on perfecting myself to better adapt into my surroundings.