Instead of taking some overland trip to Guinea, or hanging out in my hut for the summer, I took a job at the Gambia College teaching a class on "English Methodology" for the future primary teachers of TG. With 275 students and only a box of chalk for resources, I'm a little overwhelmed. The past year has been spent in and out of classrooms, doing low-key professional development for groups of 5-20 teachers, so standing in front of 60 PTC candidates and lecturing is a little intimidating, even in my tall shoes. What gets to me is the attitudes of students. I suppose I naively believed that people enrolled in a program to become teachers would be looking forward to teaching, but many of these students are doing it as a last resort, and they have just returned from a year of "student teaching," which really means being posted anywhere in the country as a full time classroom teacher with very little support from the college or the school. Here's a taste of how they were feeling the first week of class with me after returning from this experience:
"The most importan thing leared in the field is that this qualified teacher are not ready to work when they have a lot in their classroom. Is battle for us to be prepared everyday. " This sentiment was echoed throughout the responses to my question, "What did you learn about teaching while in the field this year?" Here's a couple more: "I learned that teacher trainees has no say in the school administration because we were isolated and stigmatized." "Teaching isn't liked even by some qualified teachers. Reason: Many teachers are either dodging classes or seeking for employment elsewhere." I have to go plan for tomorrow, still not sure what the best use of time is here.