I realized today that it’s been a few weeks since I mentioned school. I would hate to have you think that I’m not there much, as that is my real reason for moving to Tanzania for a year! Never fear, I am still working at CAMS!
Standard 2 during an exciting popsicle-making lesson!
In fact, I haven’t mentioned the other change that has gone on. In my last post about school, I talked about the first week in the second term, in which I was beginning a smooth transition into the Standard 2 classroom. Well, little did I know, but that transition was not going to be so smooth. Sarah Robrecht, who is the regular Standard 1 teacher, had to fly home expectantly as her mother was having some health problems. So, what do you do when one class has 2 teachers and another one has none? You send one of those teachers into the other class!
I was more than happy to help out and moved myself into the Standard 1 class. For those of you who don’t speak the British education system lingo, this is Kindergarten. Man, those kids are CUTE!! My first couple of days were spent figuring out their schedule and where things were. Sarah was fantastic at organizing things, and even planned reading groups for a month! It was really easy for me to step in and take over while she has been away.
On top of getting a temporary new teacher, the Standard 1 class also began swimming on my second day in their classroom. Every student in the primary level at CAMS starts swimming during the second term, and most of them look forward to it. For Standard 1, it was even more exciting because it is their first year doing so. In fact, one of them was so excited that she rang the recess bell 7 minutes before second break ended, knowing that when break was over we would load the bus and head to the hotel down the street to the pool. We had to have a discussion later about who is not supposed to ring the bell. (This is any of them!)
Swimming at the pool has been great fun! They are so excited to get in the water! It is well planned that the swimming takes place at this time of year because it’s really hot outside. Every day the past week has gotten into the upper 80’s or low 90’s, and no one wants to be at school when it’s that warm. At home, the schools are all air conditioned, but that is not the case here! Windows are open in the morning and, with the exception of fans that barely move the air, that is all the cooling we have for the entire day.
Other than swimming, we have been learning about Jonah and the Whale, fairy tales, friendship stories, subtracting up to 10, and sorting objects in more than one way. Life in Standard 1 is busy! To add to the craziness, we began testing for the mid-year reports this week. It is a LOT of work, mostly for the teachers, but also for the kids. In Standard 1, they are tested on 2 sets of sight words (some of them, anyway) as well as given a reading test to find their level. They have to spell and read both lists by the time they exit Standard 2, so they are checked to begin with at Standard 1. Students are also tested on their math abilities, written work, and handwriting. Some of them are also assessed on their letter names and sounds, but only for those who need that level. It’s a lot for such little guys, but is important for us to be able to see where they are. This information helps teachers to plan and more effectively teach.
On top of the mountains of testing this week, Standard was also in charge of today’s primary assembly. Assembly is done each week, with each class taking one week of each term. Sarah had signed up for this week before she knew she was going to be out of town, so I got to take it for her. Weekly assemblies are something I had not been a part of until I came to Tanzania. In my schools growing up, assemblies were occasional things, for only special occasions. I had no idea at first what would be involved if there was one EVERY week.
I soon found out that assemblies are a time for House Points (Yes, I think of Harry Potter every time I hear it. Harry Potter has helped me a lot in my time at CAMS, what with House Points, Preficts, Head Boy and Girl, and exams for the senior students. Thank you, Mrs. Rowling for this!) to be awarded and individual students to be called out for outstanding work during the week. They are also a chance for the students to show off a little of what they had been doing during the week. For the kids, it’s exciting, but it can be a lot of work for the teachers.
The principal and head of primary hand out award certificates.
There is a little more pressure for the teachers of the youngest grades because these are the ones with the highest parent attendance. Parents are invited to any assembly, but as you find with kindergarten parents in the states, parents tend to come to school things for their smaller and younger children far more often than for the older ones. Today was no exception. There was almost standing room only for the parents in the back of the library, where the assemblies are held.
Our assembly included a few songs the entire student body joined us on, as it usual, as well as the awarding of House Points and individual acknowledgements. We also performed a little skit about Goldilocks and the 3 Bears and sang a song about Jonah. Toward the end, we included the entire room in the singing and dancing to a version of “Singing in the Rain” that leaves the singers looking quite silly at the end! I used it earlier in the week as a “wake up your brain” song, and they loved it so much we traded one of our other songs for it instead. Overall, I was very pleased with their performances! They spoke really loudly (louder than some of my Standard 4’s last term) and clearly. They knew their parts and I only had to help 2 of them remember their lines during the whole thing!
Praying at the end of Assembly
I was so proud of them and the work they have been putting in to their testing and the assembly that I decided to give them a break in their lessons later and we watched a movie in the staff lounge. Don’t worry… it went along with our academics as well. We watched “The Fox and the Hound,” which went perfectly with our friendship unit (we had talked about animals that can and can’t be friends.) It was a great ending to a great week!
They were REALLY into this movie!
Next week, I’m moving back into Standard 2. I’ll stay with my Standard 1 kids for Monday and Tuesday, and will take over Standard 2 on Wednesday. I’ll miss these guys, but they’ll only be next door.