The way the education system works in Guyana is students grades 1-6 attend Primary School. To move forward they take an entrance exam which places them in a certain range of Secondary Schools (grades 7-11). Many students in Secondary School write at an American 2nd grade level. If a student fails the entrance exam, they attend a Community High School. These students tend to have more behavior problems. Most of them can’t read or write, but keep getting passed onto the next grade. Many of them can’t even correctly copy something from the board.
I teach at a Community High. (Yes, I’m quite brave.) The children at my school are monkeys and they’ve turned the school building into their circus. I tell them that everyday. A typical day is filled with a roller coaster of emotions: anger at their egregious conduct and audacious attitude, sadness from their poor school and home environment, frustration with the education system and that learning is not occurring, and delight by the way some of them brighten your day with their generosity or consideration.
Before I came here, I thought it would be nice if I could help/teach/change/motivate/inspire one student a day. Clearly I was being very foolish and overzealous. I’ve created a new math equation to help me calculate what a reasonable goal would be instead.
1 student a day
x 200 days of school (approximately)
- 20 days of doing nothing because there was no class schedule
- 82 days wasted managing behavior issues
- 44 days when students decide not to show up or randomly leave school without permission
- 9 days on the calendar for “final exams” but actually doing nothing
- 27 days the students randomly leave for “athletics” even though they aren’t on a sports team
- 7 days of not teaching for unannounced staff meetings that take place during school hours
- 10 days of not teaching set aside for “Sports Week” but lasts longer than 5 days
= 1 student
Out of all 200 students I have, touching one student’s life this entire year is a much more reasonable and attainable goal. I still have a lot of work to do.
It’s a month into school and we just got our class schedules this week. Oh, and I also found out I’m going to be teaching Reading as well as Social Studies.