Friday, February 8, 2013

The Start of the 2nd Year

We are now two weeks into the school year in Lesotho with new classes, new students, and a new outlook.  I’m teaching the grade 12 (Form E) and the grade 10 (Form C) math classes.  Both of these are the classes that take huge external exams at the end of the year that determines for Form C’s if they will pass from secondary school to high school and for the Form E’s if they will graduate from high school with high enough marks to go to university.  The tests are crazy long and cover every topic learned in every subject for the last 2 to 3 years.  At Qholaqhoe our pass rate on external exams for math was around 15% and very few of those that passed got higher than a near pass in the 50 and 60%’s.  So hopefully we have nowhere to go but up!

Qholaqhoe High School afternoon assembly.

A year ago when I first started teaching it was so difficult and I didn't think I could do it.  This year my mindset is totally different and I actually enjoy going to school!  It’s crazy to think about how things were last year versus now and it gives credit to the necessity of being here for two years and also how much I have grown individually as a teacher.  I’ve been successful so far at getting to school at 7 am everyday (first period isn’t until 8) to spend extra time with my Form E’s working on math or just encouraging them to work on anything.  We follow an I’m here you’re here policy because I don’t like getting up early and they are required to get there at 7 or face potential beating.  So far teaching the externals has been great there interest in learning is better and generally less disruptive in class.  There are still many things that frustrate me with laziness and maintenance of my school but I want to focus on the things I love about this place because I know a year from now I’m going to miss many things about Qholaqhoe. 

Right now I’m only teaching 2 classes and have extra time to work on other things including the library, math and science club, and a few other small projects in the community and with the district math and science teachers association. 

Library project:
In addition to teaching I am focusing in the short term on working on the school library.  Every day I work with the school leaning lady to reorganize and catalog the books and train her to be the school librarian.  This is a challenge as her English isn't very good and neither is my Sesotho, but we are doing our best!  We also just last week submitted a grant application to Peace Corps to construct a library building at my school.  Just getting to the point of submitting the project application and plan was a small victory!  If approved I will have to raise $5800 from sources at home to compliment the $3300 the school has raised.   A lot more on this to come if we are approved!

Form C students posing for a picture in the library.  The space is small and there is no furniture but we are working to make the organization of the books simpler and easier to follow.

Reorganizing the books by reading level instead of fiction types hopefully will help students to find books and training a librarian will help to keep them in an orderly fashion. 

After school I have been starting to focus on training for a half marathon in Cape Town at the end of March.  How can you not enjoy running when you finish to views like this!

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