This past week we traveled to Tsumeb, a town a few hours north of Windhoek so we could do our practice teaching, which consisted of us working with a partner to teach two 40 minute classes each morning. The idea is that we can see how things work in a Namibian classroom, try out some ideas and see what some of the challenges are going to be. And it turns out, this is a good idea. The first class went fine because we just drew pictures of ourselves and talked about them in English but the second class, which I wanted to do on a science topic did not go so well. In fact, it fell flat on its face. I had planned 40 minutes of lesson time but the students already knew what I would be teaching (it was 5th grade material and the students were all in 7th or 8th grade), so we finished in about 10 minutes and I was at a loss for where to go next.
Fortunately, it got better as the days went on. We only had 7 students and got to know them fairly well and getting class participation wasn’t quite like pulling teeth by the last day. We talked about the different parts of a story and had them write and illustrate stories and those were a lot of fun to read.
My partner was Sharon, the older woman in our group (who is from Dubuque and may have gone to school with Tricia’s aunt…). We had some frustrations because our teaching styles are very different: I tend to motivate by being super enthusiastic and she uses more of a grandmotherly coercing, but we learned a lot from each other and worked well together when we were actually in the classroom.