- Be flexible. If plan A isn’t going to work, be willing to use plan B or randomly create a plan Z.
- Don’t be efficient. This is easily the most difficult thing. I used to plan my time efficiently – I have 40 minutes in the morning before class so I can get A,B,C, and D done in that time. No. Maybe plan one thing to get done in that time, or ideally nothing. Do everything else at home the night before.
- Redefine what is “productive.” Sitting and chatting with another teacher, or even sitting and listening to other teachers talk in a language you don’t understand, can be productive. You’re showing that you care enough to spend time with them.
- Let some things go. You can’t chase down every learner and force them to hand in their assignments. You might not cover everything you wanted to cover in class. Oh well!
The following week another unexpected school event caused me to miss more classes. Then they decided that we would stop rotating classes on Thursday (still 5 school days from when exams were supposed to start!). Theoretically the teachers are still supposed to teach during this time, but it doesn’t work out well at all, it’s pretty much chaos.
THEN, they decided that exams would start on Monday instead of on Wednesday as scheduled! Unexpectedly I was done teaching for the term two days early. Fortunately, this was not entirely surprising, so my classes were 90 percent done with what they were supposed to finish and they were able to finish the rest Monday and Tuesday.
Besides the crazy school schedule I had a very stressful weekend just before exams started when I went to the north for the parents’ meeting. Many of our learners (about half) are boarders who actually come from villages in the north, so we have one parents’ meeting up there every year that all the teachers are supposed to go to. I was glad to get the chance to go to the north actually, since I still hadn’t been. The meeting was held in Oshakati, about 4 hours north of Tsumeb.
In short – glad I went, both for the chance to see the north and for the chance to spend time with teachers outside of school. On the other hand, EVERYTHING from departure to meals to sleep to the actual meeting to getting back home ran 1-3 hours later than planned. It just about drove me crazy.
NOW, we’re well into exams (only one week left, thank goodness!) and that’s a whole nother story… Learners come to school every day for six hours, but may be writing as few as two exams a week. There are no lessons. It’s like an endless study hall. Poor kids, and poor teachers who have to supervise them and keep them quiet!
The good thing is, now that we’re not planning lessons, we have a lot more free time in the afternoons and evenings. That alone makes a big difference! I even have most of my marking done and Dylan’s about half way through his. We’ve pretty much successfully completed our second term as teachers!
One sad thing is we haven’t been able to watch any Olympics at all, given our lack of access to TV. I realized this is the second time in a row that I’ve missed the summer Olympics because of being in Africa (the last time was in 2008 while I was in Rwanda). Shame!
Thanks again for your prayers and encouragement. We wouldn’t be getting through this nearly as well as we are without that! =)