Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Few Firsts.

If there is one thing that I really love about teaching it is the opportunity to give children the chance to experience something for the 'First' time. Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of facilitating a host of firsts. What's more, those firsts have been (ultimately) simple,  and easy to engineer. Which in some ways has made them even more precious.
Our first, first, was the glorious invention known as the sandwich. We have been studying Instruction Writing in Literacy, I had been reminiscing with myself about how I used to do practical sessions when we learnt Instruction Writing (in England!). 'It just isn't possible to do it here' I persuaded myself. It's too hard. I mean how is a person supposed to cope without commodities like ASDA? How can I buy all the things I need? There's no power for about 20 hours of most days. Our kitchen is home to numerous families of cockroaches. Where would I store the ingredients? How will I get it all to school? Oh, the hurdles were many and various. Where would I find enough plates, knives? How would I get the desks clean enough?  Basically, let's face it, I was having an enormous fat, 'weedy moment'.
With my host of reasons 'why we can't make sandwiches,' I decided I would just get the children to write down a set of instructions and leave it at the theoretical stage. Unfortunately, the excitement that just thinking about making sandwiches generated, was just too much for me to resist. How could I deny them the opportunity to actually put their theories into practise. No self-respecting teacher could ignore such an opportunity. I wandered around the room, jotting down the variety of ingredients that were appearing on the various 'You will need lists' .  Things that missed the cut - ham, salami, onions, egg. (all either too expensive or too difficult to procure in numbers) Things that made the cut - Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup (and bread obviously).
Friday morning arrived. One housemate not feeling well, so needing a lift with another housemate on her moto. Moto normally goes to the Secondary school, not the Primary school. So hurdle overcome, ingredients made it to school. Previous shopping hurdles had been leapt by getting Richard our cook to go shopping for me! (due to retention of minor 'weedy moment')
Gradually, the awareness crept around the classroom that we were in fact 'making' sandwiches. The awareness grew to fever pitch excitement with the realisation that not only were we making, we were EATING! Yes, actually EATING the sandwiches, which we were making. We were making and EATING!! There followed hand washing, made a little less than easy for the second group, by the fact that the water was turned off!
One interesting fact: no where on any, You Will Need List, did the words butter or margarine appear. Instead it was agreed that one slice of bread would be spread with mayonnaise and the other with ketchup! So it was done. Sandwiches were made. It was in fact not at all traumatic. Every child was so engrossed in what they were doing, it never even occurred to a single one of them to do anything other than exactly what they were told. Nobody left their seat. Nobody dropped anything on the floor. They made. They ATE. Best of all, most came back after the lessons and said 'Thank you'.

 That was all in Week 4. Week 5 'Firsts' - buying a stamp - sticking a stamp on a letter - posting the letter in a letter-box! In Week 2, we wrote letters to The Dixie Grammar School, Market Bosworth. I had been beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get round to organising the Post Office trip, when I was suddenly inspired to delegate. It's not one of my strong points. My ability to delegate. I do really like to do things myself. Then I'm in control. I know what's happening when, how and why. But I have found that a somewhat challenging fettish in a country where I don't speak the same language as most of the people I need to deal with. We have now in The King's School a Public Relations Manager, so who better to organise to my trip?
 So it was at  11:15 on Wednesday 8th October, I am informed that our trip is due to go ahead on Thursday 9th October! Oh how I love delegation! I have approximately 15 mins left of break time to compose a 'letter to parents'. No point in asking for permission. No way I'll get all the letters back in one day. Most won't even find their way out of books bags in that time. Time to go into TIA mode. I'll just 'tell' them it's happening. (and hope)
Hope got us all there and all back in one piece. It got us on National TV news, because it was some special day at the Post Office. But best of all was to joy in reading all the 'Thank you' letters written on Friday.  For so many of the children, their favourite bit of the day was , sticking the stamp on the envelope. Followed closely by, the drinking of the Fanta we were given at the end of each tour!

High on the favourite list was also the discovery of The King's School, Post box (BP1560). It was crammed full of letters. It was in fact my favourite part of the day, because in the middle of the huge pile of post was a letter for me! 
There's nothing quite like getting a real letter.

Learning how to send and receive a Registered Letter.

That's it for now then. I've sat for about an hour labouriously downloading photos. But the computer, or the Wi Fi, or Burundi internet, has now decided to stop playing the game. Nothing is happening. It's been a long time since I've managed more than one Blog in a month.
There should be some topics for Blogging coming soon, as I have decided to buy my own moto! Me in charge of a vehicle on the wrong side of the road! Watch this space.