- Students bring in fruit for the teachers and it is amazing.
- Moms come from their villages everyday on the bus with their children. They play cards in the hall near the school during the day and have lunch with their children. Once school ends everyone catches the bus together.
- The students are responsible for keeping the school clean.
- All rubbish is burned behind the school, because trash pick up doesn’t exist.
- Students sometimes stay behind at school for hours to either clean up or just play with other kids.
- The school has it’s own canteen that serves food to parents, teachers, and students. Which subsequently attracts dogs.
- When it rains the field becomes covered in giant snails.
- Students clean my room without asking.
School has hit full stride and I have finally grasped the weekly schedule. There is not a written schedule hanging in the teacher’s lounge, and my principal doesn’t coordinate daily or weekly staff meetings. Information is passed orally from teacher to teacher, so it makes sense that I miss things from time to time. Sometimes my principal doesn’t inform me of things because she thinks I know, or that it really doesn’t affect me, but it is not out of disrespect. Plans aren’t exactly drawn before time. Samoans tend to be very reactionary and figure things out as they arise. Now that time has passed and I have been able to grasp what to expect from day to day.
As mandated by the Ministry of Education, school must run from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., but in most cases this is not true. My school ends at 2:00pm to allow for the students to catch the bus home. Others may end because of differing scheduling or because they ran out of water, you never know. Children arrive as early as 7:00 a.m. on the bus and play around the compound until school begins. Once teachers arrive the cleaning of the schoolyard commences. Students are running around picking up the trash freshly thrown on the ground from their morning tea. Students can also be seen sweeping and tiding up their classroom. This all repeats itself in the afternoon once school is complete. The bus arrives at 2:00-2:30 p.m. but some students stay to catch the final bus at 5:00.
On Monday and Thursday we have assembly for the first 30 minutes of school. The children form up in a military parade fashion before the principal and they march in position. One student plays the drum while the others are given marching directions. Once the marching is completed the students are given the plans for the week and dismissed. Wednesday and Friday afternoons are set-aside for Zumba. School ends at 1:00pm to allow time for the entire school to come out and dance. Several teachers will perform dance moves while the kids math the teachers. It is quite comical when a mom or two stray from the peanut gallery and perform as well.
Friday is the best day of the school week. This is not due to it being the end of the week, but instead being set aside for song and sport. The students sing in the morning and play games in the afternoon. Today for instance the children sang, “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” in Samoan and had a tug of war competition. Our school practices something unique.. The students are separated into “houses” like Harry Potter. We don’t have names for the houses but they are represented by the colors: red, blue, green, and yellow. They are evenly distributed with students from all years. Each house competes for points during sport for the term. At the end of the term the winning house gets a prize. With four terms each house has an equal chance to win a prize.
Now that you have a typical week in mind let’s switch to what a day looks like. My schedule is vastly different than any of the other teachers as they have the same students all day long. I teach 4 groups of 6/7 students everyday. Each class is 45 minutes long. Sometimes one group feels like all day, while another seems to pass in 5 minutes. I have nametags for each class that the students grab while coming into class. I like to have the students interact with each other and I during the lessons. Unfortunately, this is not common practice in Samoa, so the students are always extremely excited to come to my class. Half of the time I feel like I am running around with my head cut off, but I can tell the students are having fun.
My students are representatives from years four, five, and six. Year four is when English is first taught, so these years are crucial to future development. I performed a diagnostic assessment over the first two weeks of school in each year. There are 150 students over these 3 years, hence why it took so long. This test presented me with the students who are most at risk and could benefit from extra instruction in English. I now have the sweetest and coolest bunch of kids a teacher could ask for.