Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wednesday 15th February

Arriving at school at 8.20am today, I was surprised to find the school locked up and no teachers around. Luckily, I was able to track down a student teacher, who led the morning assembly. One of the teachers turned up at school with 4 coconuts for me. I felt very silly since I’d never seen a coconut in the shell before. Alfred used a huge knife to hack into the shell to reveal the coconut inside. The coconut water tasted very sweet and I was unable to drink it all. Next I went into class 5 to teach. Embarrassingly, my laptop wouldn’t work and connect to the projector. Then it decided to update which meant that my computer was frozen for 15minutes. This is the first time this week I have felt under pressure. It made me realise that back to basics teaching, without using technology is not so bad after all! I taught class 5, and two class 6s, the children then taught me different games, songs and dances. Next I distributed the letters that the staff and children at Rimrose Hope had written. The children loved the letters and were very excited to meet their new pen friend. I’m attempting to take a photograph of every child at Bassa Town holding their letters.

A contractor came to meet me at the school today. He came to survey the toilet block which has completely collapsed. Currently, the school has no toilets for the children to use. The contractor gave me an estimate for how much it would cost to build a block of 4 toilets. I feel like I should help if I am able to, as I know how uncomfortable it has been for me during the day, without access to a toilet (and I’m only here for a week!).

Next I went to talk to some children who were filling up buckets at the well. The children here are just so friendly and welcoming. One boy had a ball, so I challenged the children to spin the ball on their finger. It was lovely watching the children trying a new skill. We then were heading the ball to each other and the children were asking me to ‘snap’ them (take their photograph). Although the children can look unhappy on photographs, they have beaming smiles when they see themselves on the screen. I love spending time with the children, their laughs and huge smiles are uplifting.

Today I finished school and travelled to St Raphael’s primary school at 2pm. I delivered a literacy session about big books with Helen from Maricourt. We shared with 18 local teachers, ways to use the book ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’. I felt comfortable sharing this book as this is what we were studying when Ofsted were in! We talked about story structure, reading with expression, using actions, human sentences, picture sentences and hotseating. The teachers enjoyed this session and it was an enjoyable experience. It feels fantastic that this is the second year I have delivered an INSET in an international setting. Then I went back to Bassa Town to pick up the 3 teachers from English Martyrs, who I am sharing a car with. The teachers were finishing off their session when I arrived; it was really interesting to watch. I attracted the attention of some local children and I took some stunning photos of them through the window.

After the twilight session was over, we went to view a local school that are desperate for a partner in the U.K. The school is behind the local market, I got mobbed with local children all trying to hold my hand. The level of poverty in this area was very striking. One child was playing with a cd-rom drive from a computer and a young child was playing with a knife. The headteacher showed us the nursery classroom; it was a tiny room which I couldn’t stand up in. We were told these three 2foot by 2 foot bare rooms, were the classrooms for 50 children. This was shocking, especially when I compared this to the fantastic nursery we have in our school in Liverpool. After viewing the school, we were all so thirsty so we stopped at a stall on the road; a woman came to the window asking if we needed fish. The smell of the uncovered fish is so overwhelming in the strong heat. On the way home, we stopped off at a health centre in Grafton. This is a complete contrast to the health facilities in the U.K. I gave some sterile examination gloves to the person in charge. Next we stopped off at a beautiful waterfall on the road site. We walked down a steep sandy slope (I slid on my bottom for lots of it) to find the top of the waterfall. However we were unable to access it. At the river side, Thomas the 64 year old road fixer came to say hi. He demanded we all take photos of him in different poses. It was very funny watching him lifting his shovel into different positions. Arriving back at the hotel, we sat by the poolside with a star, a local brewed drink and we had the most incredible view of Freetown (the hotel is at the top of a tall hill).

Although I feel incredibly exhausted, every moment here is precious. I feel completely relaxed, constantly amazed and always have a smile on my face. The beauty of this county and the people are spectacular.

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