The main part of the Community Based Training (CBT) experience was to orient ourselves with schools similar to the ones we’ll be teaching at for the next two years.
Having been out of secondary school for so long, I forgot how early it started. Luckily, I lived across the street, which greatly pushed back my necessary wake up time. Our first day began with an introduction by the Principal to the staff, and then we spent the better part of the morning learning about the school, discussing the circuit, and familiarizing ourselves with the syllabi.
Our support teacher was absolutely amazing. Not only did she print out the hierarchical chart of the school for us, but she sat with us and discussed the syllabus we’ll be using to plan our lessons for the next two years. After familiarizing ourselves with the teachers and the school, we walked around and visited some of the classes.
Classrooms in Namibia are starkly different from classrooms in the United States. When a teacher enters, learners stand at attention and greet the teacher. Every class begins with a call and reply
Teacher: “Good morning class”
Learners: “Good morning sir”
Teacher: “How are you?”
Learners: “We are very well sir, how are you?”
Teacher: “I am fine, thank you, please sit”
It was very interesting to experience a formal way of starting class like this. In the States, teachers tend to jump right into the lesson, but here these greetings are a sign of respect for teachers and learners alike.
In Namibia, the way you dress impacts the way you are perceived. Teachers dress very well—perfectly ironed shirts, tailored pants, shoes that are polished every other period (even though the school campus is mostly sand).
Our time at the school was broken down into three sections. The first week was spent observing classes. Some of the Resource Volunteers that have been helping us throughout Training designed an amazing handbook to guide us through CBT. We first familiarized ourselves with the layout of the school, the faculty and staff, and found out where pertinent information was posted in the school. We spent the rest of the week observing classes—looking at the environment and layout and how it impacts learners, then looing at different classroom management techniques employed by different teachers. Next we focused on how gender in the classroom, and finally pacing and lesson progression.
We spent the afternoons covering technical sessions, focusing on proper classroom management techniques, differing teaching styles to match different learning styles, and how to build an inclusive classroom.
As the weeks went on, we moved out of the observation phase, and into co-planning and co-teaching with Namibian instructors at the school. This was an amazing experience, because we were able to get advice and learn from current teachers at the school. We continued the technical and language sessions after our days of teaching—which made for very long (and hot!) days. After a week of co-teaching, we finally moved into the solo teaching phase.
After a few days of solo teaching we had completed our Community Based Training experience! But it’s never that easy with me. During the solo teaching phase, I managed to somehow get sick.
Let me tell you, for all you wondering what it’s like in a rural village, let me explain—without going into too much detail. Getting sick in the States isn’t fun, but getting sick in 90-degree weather when the toilet outside the homestead walls is even worse. For a few days I did nothing but move from my bed to the outhouse and back. I’m not going to elaborate more than that, but I am going to say, I lost a lot of weight.
Anyways, CBT is over, and we’re back to the Pre-Service Training system.
(As you can tell from this last sentence, I planned to upload this blog a long time ago. After we returned from CBT, we had a jam-packed few weeks of site announcements, American cultural food day, and (of course) Swearing-in!).
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are mine, and do not represent any position taken by the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.
Hi I'm Drew!
I'm currently a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching English in the Kavango West Region of Northern Namibia.
Please note: The contents of this blog are mine, and do not represent any position taken by the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government