Wednesday July 21 was our first day teaching at Wes-Eind Primary. Immediately upon our arrival we were told that a teacher had surgery and was going to be out the entire day. We were the substitutes. Now, I’m sure you remember when you were in school and you had a sub how different everyone acted; well this experience was very similar. All of the students at this school speak Afrikaans, which sounds a little like Dutch. Lucky for us, these students can understand what we were saying, and we could understand them. At Dalubuhle, the students speak in Xhosa and it’s very difficult to communicate effectively. Our day consisted of teaching math, natural science and art and culture, to students in grades five through seven. Fortunately, the teachers at Wes-Eind are amazing and provided us with worksheets for all of the math classes. For the most part, the day ran very smoothly, and we only had a few of the boys acting up. We were told the behavior at this school would be worse, but to be honest, it was easier dealing with behavior issues when there was enough work, papers and books to keep the other students occupied. The overall dynamic at the Wes-Eind school is very different than Dalubuhle.
Nick and I prefer teaching at Wes-Eind now because of how wonderful the staff is. The minute you walk into any of the classrooms you can tell they are trying their best to educate these children. The first classroom I walked into was a first grade class. This teacher in particular gives and gives back to this school and all of these kids. She is currently in the process of transforming a small room into a library, and we are getting ready to paint the now stark white walls in bright colors. Hopefully it will inspire the students to want to read more, which us teachers know will only help improve their minds.
We spent the rest of the week at Wes-Eind filling in for the teacher who had surgery. The school was unable to find a replacement teacher until the following Monday, and Nick and I were happy to stay. Many of the students lack confidence in speaking and presenting in front of their peers, so Nick and I had them write journals about what they do here in South Africa in the winter, draw a picture, and present their writing in front of the class. It was interesting to see how shy and embarrassed these kids get when speaking in front of the class, and how they lack the appropriate manners as audience members. I did a quick 3-minute responsive classroom mini lesson about what it means to “be a good audience.” Though the seventh graders were able to come up with some rules themselves, they were unable to act on it. In that moment I was missing my Room 3 first graders, and was wishing they were there to “set a good example.” J