Saturday, February 17, 2007


Homework will be the death of me. I graded 6 out of 7 turmas' homeworks (about 450 out of 525 kids) and it took me all week....this involved collecting all their notebooks where i have them write their TPC (trabalho para casa) every day. The tricky part is my gigantic backpack can only carry one turma of notebooks at a time, and everyone always thinks i'm traveling ''a senhora professora, esta a viajar?'' no! just carrying notebooks! Oy. So I am limited to two turmas a day, doing one in late afternoon at school after teaching, and taking the other stack home to do in the morning. Each turma took between two and three hours. I still don't have class rolls (they'll be finalized monday) but my class average is probably around 75, maybe as high as 85.

I've been ploughing through the material with determination, from procariots and eucariots to types of tissue. It's tricky to get the kids to actually think about and internalize the material, but it's easy to engage them with silly little things. They gasp and giggle when i wiggle my nose talking about cartilage, which they've never heard of, and i feel satisfied when i see them fingering their own noses with pensive looks on their faces. Ah, the analogies i've had to some up with to make these abstract concepts real to them (bacteria in the body like weeds in their machambas, etc.).

Overall they're well-behaved, funny kids. Only Turma 2 is a headache, making fun of my Portuguese if I make some silly little mistake like dois (masculine 2) instead of duas (feminine 2). It irritates me because my written Portuguese is already far better than theirs, even though I'm not as conversant as they are. I was rather appalled by their lack of fluency when I graded homeworks! But most of my turmas are a lot of fun, and i can play around with them without them getting too out of hand, and they love trying to impress me with their English, giving me lots of examples like snake and monkey when i ask for organisms from the Reino Animal (animal kingdom)--they would all love me to teach them Biology in English, maybe I'll start a bio in english club alongside the science experiment club I had been thinking about (labs don't exist here, and i'll have to be creative with my resources!)

I'll be giving my first test next week, and am already alarmed by the prospect of rampant cheating with 75+ kids crammed in three to a desk. I'd make different versions of the test within each class, but photocopying in the city would cost a fortune alas. At least I can make a different test for each turma, as talking between class is extremely common. If you ever thought cheating was bad in the U.S. imagine the difference in a Collectivist culture and not an Individualist culture....there is no spirit of competition or ''beating'' your classmates to discourage what they just consider ''sharing''.

On to a different subject. I have been prancing around with delight as things have started to sprout in my garden. The squash, corn and watermellon i planted outside is looking very happy, and some of the tomatoes and herbs that i'm starting inside as seedlings are beginning to show some stirrings of life, although this morning i planted some tomato, pepper, and various herbs outside to see how the outside world treats them (as the squash, etc., has been so enthusiastic). Lets just hope they never actually finish the teacher housing they've been building--this is probably a long way off, and mary and i plan to fight for the house we're in particularly for the tile roof, which is the only reason we haven't died of heat exhaustion. I laughed when i read mummy's comment in an email cautioning about tomato seeds having trouble if the temperature drops below 70......I don't forsee that for a few months, the very thought of such cool weather is alien to us here!

Well, I suppose that's enough for now. We have our first IST (In Service Training) in two weeks in Nampula, so I'll not only get back to internet but have all your lovely mail and packages delivered, so thanks in advance!
Special Email thanks to: Mummy, Daddy, the lovely Laura, Connie girl, Uncle Jon, and Victoria. Keep the email and snail mail coming as it is what keeps me sane!




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