Monday November 16th

This morning we all felt very apprehensive as we left the hotel for the school and orphanage.  This  was because despite having thought we had set up on Friday just what we would be doing we were far from certain that this would turn out to be the case as commnication.  It is tricky to say the least – largely because of the language barrier.   Janice has never taught before, and I have not stood in front of a class of 45 sixteen year olds ever, and have not actually ‘taught’ as such since I left headship  seventeen years ago.  Not surprisingly there were some butterflies in our stomachs.

 We had spent considerable time over the weekend preparing for the classes/groups we thought we were having and went laden with the resources we had brought.  As always Uttam was there to welcome us and thank us for what we are doing, which is lovely, but can also make us feel that this is quite a lot of pressure to ‘perform’!  In the event my teacher of

Y7 and Y8 did not turn up at all. Apparently this is a common and recurring problem.  Some of the teachers seem to feel that when we are there they can have some time off, which is not the idea at all as we are supposed to be working together. So …. I stuck to my guns and said that I was only prepared to take the group I had prepared for and would do an introduction with the whole class, but not the entire lesson. I hope the message will get back to him that just ‘bunking off’ is not on!  The group I had were great and we made a lot of progress with their spoken English because with fewer numbers they could all contribute and have some individual attention.  They loved the large photos of my family – especially Evangeline and Saul – and we talked a great deal about how children are brought up in the UK, when they start school etc etc.  All very valuable stuff, which was repeated with Y8, but in more detail and with a much wider vocabulary.  The final part of the lesson was a huge success.  I had taken my laptop and the DVD of Slumdog Millionaire, which thy all know about but very few have seen.  It was a good opportunity to get them to discuss plot and character and to debate some of the many issues that the film raises.  They have never done anything like this before and loved it, especially the ten minutes of actually watching a snippet of the film!!

The Y9 English teacher was present and has very strong ideas about how we should work together! Actually he is very keen to learn, which is great and I think that we have a better understanding of each other today and have potentially worked out a schedule for the week. He was prepared to sit with me afterwards and talk through what I had done and why and I think he will be able to see in what ways we could adapt the lesson structure that we are familiar with to the Nepalese setting.

Planning is something that is totally alien to Nepalese teachers – at least in this school. They have two text books for each subject which must be covered in the year  and they work religiously to these, but in a very haphazard way and few can tell you what they will be doing tomorrow!  My homework tonight, apart from preparing four lessons for tomorrow,  is to set up a simple planning template and complete it for my week’s work so that they can see what I am doing and how it should ensure progression at a very basic rate.  Will it work, and will they use it?  Who knows, but I feel we must try, even if only for the sake of the other volunteers.

In my ‘free period’  Mary and I tried to make some sort of sense of the chaos that is the volunteer’s resource cupboard.  It WILL be shipshape and well stocked when we leave! My final lesson today was a joint session with Janice, who has felt very much out of her depth – she isn’t a teacher and didn’t think she would actually be put in front of a class, poor girl.  We took the youngest class – 4-8 year olds for a music session.  It was huge fun – we used puppets and simple instuments and could have carried on for hours.  Their teacher gave us a huge hug at the end – she speaks virtually no English – and just said ‘thank you, thank you’.  We were quite choked!  What a day – here’s to tomorrow.

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