Friday, 25 February 2011

I-to-I day seven – End of the first week

Friday 25th February 2011

MP3 track of the day: Friday I'm in love – The Cures

Weather: Snowing …. no it's actually hot (and the power was cut to our building midday therefore no fans in the afternoon!)

I didn't sleep at all well last night, meaning that I was pretty tired as I tucked into my 'bread roll with jam and butter' this morning. For the first time within South East Asia the butter wasn't rock hard, meaning that I could actually spread it. I had also collected a sore throat from somewhere; originally I thought that I might have caught a cold. However, thinking about it a little more, I reckon it's probably either all the talking or all the fumes from the tuk-tuk ride. I do hope we get our mini-van.

Our hours tuk-tuk ride was the same as usual and we were back at 'library two' for the final day this week. I'm not used to working, I don't like getting up early Monday to Friday each week. It doesn't feel right. Anyway it was Kim's last day on the project (she had arrived two weeks before I) and so it was her decision to put all three morning classes together for the 'sanitation' lesson, followed by a small party. I didn't mind as I didn't have to do the test I had planned, however Kim wanted me to lead on the 'sanitation' lesson. Yet again I hadn't 'lesson planned' this; also I had all three classes in front of me. The numbers wasn't the issue, however the academic gap between each class was. As I started going through the 'good habits' poster I had forgotten that some of these students were not as bright as my usual class and so, as I talked, I got a lot of blank faces. Things didn't go well and after I had taught my first four 'good habits' – all of which I'm sure didn't sink in – I let Sandy do the next four and we rotated. Fortunately the drilling part of the sanitation lesson didn't take too long. To rescue us Kim asked the students to paint themselves putting litter in a bin (a very important issue for this part of the world) and all was quite. The students love doing art stuff and so they just got on with their picture not wanting to stop for break.

After break we got coke, cakes and sweets out for the students. In return the students gave Kim gifts of drawings, paper necklaces and other cute objects before we went outside to play games. We had the students in two lines; each line had a balloon that had to be passed between the knees. I'm sure you all know this game, the first line to get the balloon from one end, to the other, wins. There was quite a bit of cheating however it was all fun and the students enjoyed themselves. In a flash it was 11am and off went the first group of students. I went to the local shop and purchased some snacks, came back and ate.

After eating we all went out to see the new 'library 2' building being constructed. The present 'library 2' is rented, the new one will have three individual classrooms and an office. As it was so hot we took the tuk-tuk. When we arrived Kim was horrified, basically no construction work had been done in the previous three weeks. What's more, as we took a closer inspection of the building, we could see that the construction was shabby and it looked as though a three year old had been in charge of the mortar. Bricks weren't level, bricks were missing (and the gap was just filled with mortar) plus it seemed that some supporting beams had been cut in half. All-in-all it looked terrible, even in comparison to other Cambodian buildings being built.

As a comparison we took the tuk-tuk to another similar site however these four buildings were to be used as dwellings. From the road the building work looked good, however on closer inspection it was just as bad as the school … well at least the supporting beams were in one piece. As I boarded the tuk-tuk I thought to myself that my uncles (who own a very good building company by the way) wouldn't stand for the quality of workmanship seen here. In fact it would have been interesting to have them here to ask their opinions.

Once back at the rented 'library two' I didn't have long to prepare for my afternoon class. Kim didn't have enough coke, sweets and cakes left for all three classes and so we would split up into our normal classrooms. As we only had one 'good habits' poster (and it was rubbish) I drew a man putting rubbish in the bin on the whiteboard. My class filed in, said 'good afternoon', and off we went.

I have one very bright girl within my class. This is a godsend as she usually gets what I ask, even if no one else does. I asked the class 'what is the boy doing?' and she replied 'putting rubbish in the bin'. I then asked the class 'why'? I got a sea of blank faces. As it would appear the students didn't understand 'why', I answered for them by saying 'to keep places clean'. I then brought in the previous lesson by asking the students 'what is he doing?' and they would reply 'he is putting rubbish in the bin'. I would then counter with 'why' and they would reply 'to keep places tidy'. Yes, I had a conversation going; that felt good. I underlined key words (rubbish, bin, tidy, why etc) and drilled the students. I would say a word and they would repeat. I would get faster and faster and so would they. They enjoyed that.

I proceeded with the above activity for 'brushing your teeth' and 'washing your hands'. This part of the lesson was all about good habits but I had also turned it into an English lesson which they enjoyed. I was quite proud of myself.

During the break I wrote a word search up onto the whiteboard. The children filed in looking quite confused however, it didn't take them long to find all the words within the word search. I gave all the children, who had found a word, a pencil ... still no animosity. We finished the week with 'bingo' which the students loved. One student would pick out a number, hand it to me, and then I would write it on the board. I would then get the students to read out the number in a small sentence ('The number is 88'). The student who won the bingo also got a pencil. This meant that, out of my eleven students, eight had got a pencil today. I must make sure that the other three get one next week (If I can remember who they were).

We boarded the tuk-tuk but had to wait for Kim to collect even more presents. As we started to leave all the students came out to wave us off. It was a lovely moment ... and I wasn't leaving. We didn't chat that much in the tuk-tuk and soon we were back at our guesthouse. The electricity had been off at 'libray 2' throughout the afternoon meaning no fans. I was very sweaty and so a shower was the most important thing. Looking at my watch it was to early for tea and so I surfed the internet before going 'hunter gathering'.

I was so tired that, after eating, I went straight to sleep. Tomorrow I'll lie in, go to the 'Blue Pumpkin' for cake (I've decided this will be my 'well-done' after each week of teaching) before finding my favorite restaurant and ordering a 'vanilla shake' while I read my book. The plan for Sunday is to get up early and visit the 'killing fields' before lesson planning for Monday. A laid-back weekend was what I needed.

Toodle Pip!