I have been teaching Class 5 at Matholeng because the usual teacher is unfortunately very sick and has not been able to come to school. With that, the school is facing one of the harsh realities of education in Lesotho: substitute teachers do not exist. Since I was there I stepped in and taught her class on Monday and Tuesday, but because of that I was unable to work with the other teachers (which my actual Peace Corps work position requires me to) on rewriting their Mission Statement. I had been preparing to teach the teachers a workshop on Mission Statement writing for weeks, and I will just have to continue waiting.
Anyways, I had a difficult time sinking into things with the students the first day because my accent is challenging for them to understand and I had no warning so I did not have any lesson plans. Nonetheless, I improvised and had a wonderful breakthrough with the students Tuesday morning…I just cannot contain my happiness! The students had been reviewing for the tests they will be taking for the rest of the week; with that said, I thought that the material I assigned for them to do would make sense since it was material they should have already learned. They struggled with filling out a chart that required them to round numbers to the nearest 10, 100, and 1000. They excelled with rounding to the 10s, but 100 and 1000 was a disaster!
I tried my best to explain and visually represent how to round—it was grueling and took an excruciating amount of time, but it paid off. I gave the students one more number to round in order to assess and check for comprehension…EVERYONE got it correct except two! J The first student whose work I checked was a student who struggles a lot, but he got them all correct. I have him a high-five and he could not stop smiling. That made the rest of the class want to succeed as well, I ended up giving a high-five to everyone and we all clapped in excitement and accomplishment before lunch.
I needed that to happen as a reminder and encouragement of how the “AH-HA” moments of teaching and learning are worth all of struggles and headaches.