Saturday, February 2, 2008

First Week School

I think we last left our intrepid teacher-to-be unsure of who would be the head of the Computer Studies Department at the end of the second day of school.
Wednesday I talked to the pule early in the morning and he said that I would he the HOD. So I spent the day spazzing out. I had a vague understanding that the senior students that wanted to take computers were supposed to come to me in my room and I would take down their names. By the mid-day break only two of the six classes had come. There then seemed to be some question as to why I hadn't gone to their homeroom classes and collected the names myself. Mainly because I didn't know where those rooms were or that I was supposed to do that anyway. The former HOD collected the names from two of the four missing classes and the homeroom teacher collected another class's names. So after the break, I only had to wait for one last class. They came, I had them write down their names and sent them back to their class. On my way back to the teachers' lounge to ask the pule what I was supposed to do with these names, I passed the last class's homeroom teacher. He was wondering why I was done with his class so early. Apparently, I was supposed to be giving some sort of speech about my class and my teaching style and getting to know the class during this time. No one had told me that either.
I had found out during the break that I also needed to be figuring out what teachers in my department would be teaching what classes. At that point, I didn't even know there were other teachers than me and the former HOD and I didn't know what classes they would teach. In fact, I was having a hard time seeing why we needed more teachers. There is only one computer lab. There are six periods a day. So if two teachers split it up they would each have only three classes a day anyway. What would we do with more teachers? We need more computers in another lab to make use of more teachers. At least that was my thinking. I started creating elaborate charts of how many classes we could see a week and how many days a week we could see the different grade levels (if we see two Year 13 classes five days a week and three Year 12 classes four days a week, then we can see two Year 11 classes three days a week…such on and so forth). However, with out moving some of the computers to the now defunct and electricity-less old computer lab and getting it up and running so that two computer classes could be going at the same time, I could see no way that more teachers would be helpful.
I met with the pule and the former HOD and told them what I had been working on. How I didn't know how they intended to teach two Year 13, three Year 12, four Year 11, five Year 10 AND five Year 9 classes in the only computer lab. With only 30 possible classes in a week and that being 19 classes right there you would basically only be able to see most of the classes once a week. The pule seemed to think that the computer "theory" could be taught in a regular classroom, one with no computers. I was trying to explain to him that it is very difficult to teach students what a Graphical User Interface is if they cannot see it. I think it just made me come off unreasonable and pushy.
Anyway, here I was spazzing, no knowing how to create this schedule or who was going to teach what. Trying to figure out if I was being unreasonable and pushy to think that all the computer classes should be taught in the computer lab (ideally with only one student per computer — now I am being unreasonable and pushy!). Wondering what they did last year and how I could someone just build on or modify that if I only knew what it was. When the pule dropped the happiest bomb in the world.
He appreciated all my hard work that day, but I could not be HOD. Thank God! Oh, wait. So who will be HOD? The former HOD will have to accept his position back. Genius! I love it. The pule explained that the HOD could not be someone who was on a limited contract and planning on leaving in two years. I totally agreed. He explained that he understood that the former, now current again, HOD had stepped down because he had been so concerned over the students poor performances on the PSSC and School C test the previous year. The pule said that the past was the past and now the HOD needed to move forward, improving on last year. Fabulous. The HOD needed that pep talk and afterwards his spirits seemed bolstered. Yay for me not being in charge any more.
Thursday and Friday were cake after that. I had some students sweep out the room. I worked a little on the computers. I wrote scripts for my first two classes and planned them out in detail. In general I just waited for classes to start and stopped worrying so much.
JICA had been hosting a conference on waste-management for the past week or so that several Peace Corps volunteers (and several representatives from other countries) were participating in. They came to my school on Thursday to distribute a questionnaire to the year 13.1* students and the teachers to determine what they knew about recycling. All of the other classes got out early. On Friday, JICA came back and did a presentation on recycling to the Year 13-Year 11 students. Year 10 and 9 got out early (at 10am) and we were done for the day after the presentation (12pm).
*Each class is broken into levels 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, etc, depending on how many students there are. The 13.1 students will be the "brightest" and they supposedly go down from there.
The presentation was great. The kids seemed to be interested and involved. A recycle bin for plastic bottles and tin cans had been supplied to our school, so that was cool. One kid even asked a great question about whether or not other plastics could be recycled in that bin or if it was just for plastic bottles. I think the most interesting thing about the presentation though was the opening prayer my pule gave. He did a reading from Genesis about the creation of the world from nothingness. Then he went on to talk about how the key part of this story was that God created the world with the power of the Holy Spirit and that everything thing in the world has a piece of the Holy Spirit in it and we must treat is as such and take care of it. Which I thought was a really smart way to incorporate environmentalism and religion. But the thing that really stuck with me, so much so, that I wrote it down, was this:
"Taking care of the environment should be a major focus of theology today."
I thought that was really progressive of him. I feel like I am just now hearing about religious groups (Christians in particular) in the states including environmental issues as core concerns for their ministry (and voting recommendations even). It was nice to hear those sorts of sentiments coming from a faifea'u in Sāmoa.
— Sara


Barb Carusillo said...

I started to make a comment on this yesterday, but ended up talking to you instead. I liked your discussion of environmental is interesting that some folks use religion as a reason to go ahead and trash the planet, since they believe the 2nd coming will see the righteous taken up to heaven, so what does it matter the state of the planet?
I would agree with your Pule, and you are right, there is more and more churches back here getting into protecting the environment. That is where I am taking my recycling, to St. Lukes for newspapers, the 1st Friend's church for bottles, plastic and cans. There are 5 Catholic churches putting on a series of talks on the "Low Carbon Diet", a different church for each lecture. We need more of this, lots more, to hopefully get us to take action. We consume too much, why, because we can, because it is easier. Something has to force us to rationing in WWII, and the gas crisis in 1979 where we had to ration gas. But a lot of us want to to the right thing, you know.

Julya Steyh said...

Sara, I just wanted to add a little note about your sister school in Savaii. My principal thought we should also teach theory of computers to Year 9 students (maybe why your principal wants it now too). Despite my many points on why it would not work, he went ahead and scheduled that class. We taught theory to yr 9 kids in a classroom. What we had them learn were the basics of a computer, how they worked together, inside the computer, ethical issues, different types of computer jobs, fake typing practices... those type of things.

Not sure if it worked, but just some suggestions. Hope you're getting along there well...