Thursday, February 28, 2013

Athletics are OVER!

Thank the Lord, because 30 minute classes were killing me. Oh, also having to coach athletics [aka track and field] was not my favorite thing either. On our Inter-House Athletics days my house, Blue House, got third, out of three houses, for the second year in a row. Actually the first and second were the same too. I think the teams are stacked. But really, the team that won didn’t abide by the age restrictions, after all the fuss over them in the first place. Oh well! Normalcy is back at school instead of the early morning practices, so I’m happy!

The next two videos are a couple of the cheers we did as the blue house [or Blou Huis] attempted to get psyched.
One of my learners, Nakwila, was leading the cheers, and she plus other members of my girls group helped me write down what they were saying, since I couldn’t really decipher most of it at the time.

One of the songs was in Xhosa [South African language], and one went:
Blou Huis dekka dekka
Rooi Huis okwa luza
Dekka means winner, okwa luza means loser

In this one above you can hear some english, then
Ta! means charge/fighting words.
Ons sien vir rooi huis
Hulle sit in die tambo* huis
Hulle drink net tambo

*Tambo is an incredibly cheap and also incredibly potent homemade liquor in the Owambo culture. So that cheer is basically people chanting that the other teams are drunks – they sit in the tambo house and only drink…  I’m not remembering any kind of cheers like that from middle school!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Attempts At Creative Writing

During the beginning of the school year I had some free time, so I checked out pinterest teaching boards and found SO many awesome ideas, it was actually a little overwhelming. I decided to use one that I found as a creative writing assignment. Creative Writing in itself is difficult to explain to the learners, as using their imaginations and making things up was a hard concept for some [correction: most] of them to understand. The topic was “My Teacher’s Secret Life.” After reading through a number of their assignments, it is clear that most people did not get it, and so now I just have a lot of learners who have written what they have observed about me or what they know about our rules and procedures in class. Lots of nice things at least [one boy wrote that even though I'm very strict he knows I love their class the most, because he sees me smile when they come in haha]! This is my favorite of them - I corrected the English just so it's easier to read:

Ms. Nowlin is a very nice teacher! She gives us English and she also gives us Fun Friday. Ms Nowlin likes reading, and she has her own laptop. She gives girl’s group. I think she likes eating ice-cream! She comes from America and she likes having fun. She likes watching movies and walking! She also wants to go all over the world one day. And she likes exploring and learning new things. She like taking pictures of us or places.

For some reason, at least 4 learners so far who understood the assignment have said that my secret life is being a waitress, because I need more money to feed my children. I don’t know what I really envisioned as the result of this topic, but another one of their answers was definitely not it. Memory is the smartest learner in her class, and this is what she wrote:

“My teacher usually sneak away from school to find her evil friend. My teacher was good before but now she learned to be evil like her friends. She also have a other friend named Lucky, but he is not lucky at all. Mrs. N always follow them every where they go and they sometimes give her drugs and alcohol to drink. One day when she went to visit her friends after school, she was very terrified. They were smoking and drink alcohol and using drugs, then she joined them. Then she drank and later on she was drunk! The next day she went to a private job. She was a drug deliverer. She always acted strange when she was with people in town. So, I decided to find out about her secret life! One afternoon in town, she was so drunk and decided to cause a scene in front of a lot of people. Suddenly she decides to begin a fight with another women, but someone stopped the fight. This is my teacher secret life!”

WHOAH! I did not expect that my secret life would be an alcoholic drug dealer!!!
That was definitely one of the more creative of the pieces. It was also accompanied by a picture of me holding a bottle in front of a shebeen [informal bar]. After I saw her assignment I made more of an effort to tell the other classes to write fun and exciting stories, rather than sad ones, which are easier for the kids to come up with after all the lifeskills kinds of stories they read. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

All of the School Happenings!

The weeks are seriously flying by these days, I can't believe it's already the middle of February!

So while I was at home someone mentioned to me that I never really said what ended up happening with that pesky teacher strike. It did finish after a week of striking, and I think a few of the demands were met. Teachers received an 8% raise [not 40% as they demanded... but still a definite raise] which was backtracked from their April 2012 paychecks, then this year they are renegotiating salaries, and next year another raise is scheduled to occur. Unsure what else happened with regards to their other demands, everything was kind of up in the air and unknown, as usual.

Welcome to my classroom, which I actually decorated for 2013!
Over at DPS, things are in a bit of a state of flux. The principal that I started with/who applied for a PCV has now left the school, and is the principal of the newly opened secondary school – Luderitz has so many school-aged kids now that they needed two venues. Because of this, after a couple of years of planning, now Grade 8-10 is at the old secondary school, and Grade 11-12 is in town at what once used to be another primary school that had been empty for a couple of years to my best knowledge. Sooooo he’s gone and one of the HODs was assigned to be the acting principal, despite her numerous other commitments within the community. Hopefully we will have a new principal by Term 2. I think we’re still short on a teacher too, but I’m not asking questions. *Update [because I wrote this forever ago]: we have a newly chosen principal, but I think it's causing A LOT of drama because he used to work here years back as a teacher and people don't want him here/are writing letters to the regional office... more to come once he arrives beginning of Term 2, whew! 

The Green Monster Box, for tattles/venting
My Classroom!
And to add onto that, big changes were finally implemented this year, with the complete elimination of school fees. While in theory I think this is good, practically this is not going to end well for the schools. The fees at my school were 220 NAD per learner [1 NAD = 9 USD] so not the hugest of amounts, but it really adds up when every learner is paying them. Without the school fees, I’m very confused and concerned as to how our school is going to continue to function. The Ministry of Education is supposedly going to be compensating… but this promise doesn't make me less worried. When schools start running out of supplies then we’ll really see what happens. Anyway, a few months ago all the learners paid the school fees for 2013 when they re-registered, so that meant that for the first three days of school there was a massive line of parents outside the office, waiting to get their money back. Mayhem!
I got some Valentine's Day Cards this year!

In terms of actual classes, not too much going on to report. My kids are way better behaved this year, probably due to the fact that I have more of a handle on how to do things and have been a lot stricter from the start. We are just wrapping up athletics, so we will finally start to have full days of classes this week! All the other secondary projects are going somewhat smoothly so far - more on those later! To end for now, the note on my Valentine's Day card from the smartest learner in Grade 7 now: "Happy Valentine's Day. May the Lord bless you in this day. Enjoy the day Miss. Thank u miss for giving/teaching me english. I can now really write proper English like the Americans cause inside my heart I'm a black american." So cute!