Saturday, June 28, 2014

Catching up after a long pause

I know it has been a while since I have posted anything on the blog. I have been providing pictures on Facebook, and decided there are some people I can reach this way and share some of my daily live here in Namibia.
      I am involved in a variety of projects, plus had a busy 11 days with Ashley, my former student who finished her first year of teaching in Spain and a group of faculty, staff and students from my university were here for 3 weeks filming a documentary and that carved away at some free time.  I am past my halfway point and so I completed a summary for the embassy—it really only includes April-June, because at the beginning I would provides updates about every 6 weeks.  I will include my work update on another entry, so those of you who are enjoying all my “fun” posts on Facebook  will know the other side of my life here.
            This week I completed 2 of the 4 classroom management workshops at a school in Katutura.  I know the first day many of the teachers weren’t too happy about the principal’s mandate to attend an after school session.  I told them the exit slip was a ticket out the door, and only 2 people told me they just couldn’t respond—would need to think about the prompts—“Describe a new insight for you from today related to classroom management” and “Write any questions or concerns you want me to address tomorrow.” I know they complete evaluations after some professional development workshops, but I believe saying it was a ticket out the door was a new concept for them.  By Day 2, I had 100% completion!  It was sweet because about 6 teachers commented positively on the presentation, including a teacher I was pretty sure didn’t want to be there—chose to sat in the back corner farthest from me on the first day.  On the second day she was much closer. Management is challenging for a lot of teachers, especially is small classrooms with often 40 learners. After spending time yesterday talking about positive connections with students as a strategy for positive classroom management, and then on an exit slip the majority of teachers saying they value positive connections with students, I feel that even if they make one change, there might be a benefit and make teaching less stressful.  I offered to come into their classrooms, observe and give feedback all confidentially, and about 8 or 10 out of the 30 teachers took my card, so we will see what happens.  I will finish up the workshop July 8 and 9th before family arrives.
            This Sunday-Friday, I go to Tsumkwe in the eastern part of the country.  It is a region of the San people and along with my Dean I will be spending a week observing pre and lower primary (K-2) classrooms. Because instruction is in the language of the San people, we will also have two interpreters.  I am excited about seeing a totally new area of Namibia.  This research trip is part of the large research project funded by UNESCO and the Chines Funds in Trust.  We are looking a pre and lower primary education at schools in all 14 regions of Namibia, and after collecting data in June and July will begin to identify strengths and needs, and from there begin to develop ways to increase the quality of education at the lower grades.
            Lindsey will be on her own this week—Tony went to Wales to visit family and returns the following week.  She will have an automatic car to get around.  I know she will be fine on the left hand side of the road—she really attends to what I am doing, but even with that, she has Pam, one of my colleagues, and a friend from the Embassy watching out for her.  She gets to help at the Embassy’s 3rd of July event so that will be nice for her.  On Tuesday she was part of the reception committee at the UN that greeted all the dignitaries arriving for the visit of Ban Ki-moon and the Namibian president.  What an experience for her!  She got to see and meet a variety of people and learned that some ambassadors like to be greeted formally with the title “Your Excellency.” How she learned that makes for a good story—one that is hers to tell.
So this update is getting to be long.  One more paragraph about the upcoming family visit. Laura  (niece) and Tony arrive on July 11th, and then Ann (sister) and Andrew (son) arrive on July 13th.  We will have a packed week with visits to Erindi for animal viewing, and Sossusvlei for dune climbing at dawn.  Andrew will be performing magic at the National Theater of Namibia (NTN) on Saturday July 19th.  It’s a bigger event than we thought.  I had talked to people at the Embassy about Andrew performing and apparently when they contacted the NTN and showed his website, the idea grew quickly from a show perhaps at the American Cultural Center to a matinee with tickets being sold by CompuServe—the Namibian/South African equivalent to Ticket Master.  Tickets are US$3.00 (children) and US 6.00 (adults).  The cost might be a luxury for some children and families so my sisters and I have decided to sponsor 40+ kids from the after school centre in Katutura.    
            As you can see, our experiences continue to be positive. Lindsey does miss her friends and is looking forward to her July/August visit to CA and WA to attend two weddings and connect with family and friends. 

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