Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just a regular Wednesday

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today was pretty uneventful as far as days here go. Although, looking back, I realize I was more productive than I feel I was. This morning we made a lovely little breakfast to start the day. As we promised the boys who remain at the centre during the day, we headed a specialized “work out session.” It was so fun. We did drills like shuffling, grapevine, push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, high knees, among others. We made it fun by doing most everything in a circle. I think the boys really enjoyed it, I know us girls did!

After our morning work out with the boys, Andi, Paige, and I headed into town to run a few errands (Andi picked up some new sandals for little Elizabeth) and grab some lunch as a farewell to Paige. Paige went to Nairobi today to meet up with one of the Penn State groups who will be arriving here at the CYEC on Friday. She will also be meeting up with family who is coming to visit her for a week or so. We will see her a week from Saturday, when we venture into Nairobi to explore for ourselves. I wanted to make mention of the restaurant’s mood music as we ate. Strictly country. Believe it or not, country music is a HUGE hit here and everyone seems to love it. Who knew :).

Upon our return, I interviewed one more staff member (4 out of my 5 staff members), which was great. He had some really great insight into happiness. I have to admit I am actually biased as he essentially dictated verbatim my response to the question, “what does happiness mean to you?” (I shared my response with you in an earlier blog post). What a coincidence! For the rest of the afternoon, as most of the kids were still at school, Andi and I caught up on some blogging (Andi had a week’s worth to catch up on), and reading (I haven’t had time to read in days). So we will call it a productive afternoon :).

We made some afternoon tea… we have long since begun to crave tea at any given point of the day. I can’t decide if this is good or bad, but at least we know how to make it! With tea in hand, we went through our routine of reviewing tonight’s lesson (Lesson 5: Conflict Resolution) to prepare for this evening. We decided, as with all of our lessons so far, to omit some of the activities to accommodate the language barrier/keep it brief and focused to maximize attention on the most important material. Before we knew it, it was 7:30PM and time to teach Lesson 5!

I find myself frustrated with how my class has been going. After explaining things according to the curriculum, I try to engage the students by asking questions, providing examples, or acting out a scenario and asking for their input. However, I only receive feedback from the same two, sometimes three, boys. They will not even answer yes or no questions. When they don’t answer a question, first I always ask whether or not they understood the question. I tried a different approach today and called on a few individuals today to share an answer. Those I called on literally looked away and pretended I was not speaking to them. At first I thought maybe it was the way I was teaching? Maybe I have to focus more on the general points and less on the structure of the lesson? Either way, I don’t know how the discussions can improve if no one participates, volunteer or not.

Today, there were two different scenario hand outs, half of the class had one and the other half was given the alternate. When I was explaining each scenario, I asked those who had received the handout of the matching scenario to raise their hand. No response. I literally had to go around the room, look at each paper, and insist that they raise their hand. Andi’s class may not always participate when asked to volunteer, however, when called upon, they provide a response. After talking over my frustration with Andi, I realize a number of factors could be contributing to the absence of participation. Self-esteem is a major factor in that some may feel their views or answers don’t matter, some of the students could have had poor experiences in expressing their opinions, and of course the language barrier. Lastly, a contributing factor may also be that many of these older youth are not in secondary school, but rather are enrolled in classes at the CYEC such as dress making, welding, or carpentry. Therefore, they may not understand classroom etiquette or be accustomed to such a setting.

Although I do understand these factors, I still find myself wishing they would participate as it is difficult to tell whether or not they are understanding, grasping, liking/hating the material, etc. Next lesson, I will try to ask fewer questions and be more focused on conversation rather than sticking to the wording of the curriculum. I feel conflicted, though, as the only way a conversation style class can work is if the students are willing to engage in such. It is difficult to gauge whether I should continue to ask questions… do they just need to be pushed? Or is it a waste of time to be continuing to ask for their opinions when the response is continually minimal? Again, I remind myself that even if one student takes away something positive the curriculum has been a success. I have to remember this when I begin to feel frustrated with how things are going in my class. I wish I could properly diagnose the problem and fix it. However, I also realize that this is not that kind of issue. I will keep trying to better the class however I can.

After class, I helped Mohammed to create a gmail account, very exciting :). I hope we will be able to keep in contact this way. Jane prepared dinner for us that she had ready for us when we finished teaching. So nice! Tomorrow, Andi and I are going on safari! Tomorrow is Abaders and Friday will be Lake Nukuru (sp?). I intend to take tons of pictures and will tell you about both trips when I return to the centre. I have to get to sleep as we are waking up very early to catch sight of the animals! Kenyan safari here I come!

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