Last week we started Model School. Each of us trainees teach a 40 minute period everyday for eight days at the local Community Day Secondary School (CDSS). I am teaching Form 3 Biology, which is equivalent to the High School Junior level in the U.S. The topic I was assigned to cover is the human circulatory system. The kids are out of school for the summer, but are voluntarily attending our sessions. My class averages about 40 kids.
The purpose of Model School is to provide training in the classroom before we start our actual teaching assignments. It is a time for us to practice teaching, try new techniques and observe each other. Besides fellow trainees, we are also observed by our trainers, our Resource Volunteers (Hi Susan and Tyler, we miss you this week), and Malawian teachers. I find being observed a bit nerve-wracking, but I've learned a lot from the feedback and suggestions I have received.
Part of what we are practicing is how to focus on student-centered learning. We are encouraged to incorporate critical thinking into our lessons, and to accommodate different learning styles.
We have limited resources, as the school does not have electricity and there are very few supplies, so we have to be creative. We have flip chart paper, a few markers, masking tape, chalk and erasers. The students do not have textbooks, so I have to provide everything including definitions, diagrams and homework questions on the board. I spent a long time drawing a huge diagram of the heart last week. Thank goodness Andrew, my partner in lesson planning, brought markers from home. You can't draw the inside of the heart without red (oxygenated) and blue (deoxygenated).
Since we are teaching our classes in English, which is a second language for the students, we are encouraged to speak slowly and clearly, avoid vernacular, and write things on the board. That takes a bit of practice as I tend to talk pretty fast, but I'm working on it.
Tomorrow is the last day of Model School. It has been a great experience. I have learned a lot, and I really enjoyed getting to teach the kids in my class. They are smart, hard-working and have been good sports about all the new activities I have been trying out with them. We are going to do a Gallery Walk review tomorrow to go over all the topics we have covered. Hopefully it will be fun and they have learned something too.