Today, we observed and taugt lessons in the various classrooms at Chikumbuso, a community center for orphans, single mothers and widows. My group observed and worked with Mr. Misheck Mvula’s 6th grade class. Mr. Misheck started the class off with a lesson on converting fractions into decimals. We followed his lesson with a presentation on using a navigational compass and magnetism. The Zamian students appearred engaged and attentive during both lessons.
At the close of the school day, Mr. Misheck and I shared our classroom observations during a conversation on the playground. Mr. Misheck had many positive things to say about our lesson. He was very pleased with the overall presentation of the content. He described our presentation style as both natural and enthusiastic. Mr. Misheck appreciated that we kepth the students engaged througout the lesson with interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities. He felt the the students retatined the information since they accurately responded to our comprehension questions througout the lesson. Mr. Misheck was also grateful for the visual aids that we used. He mentioned that his students usually struggle with understanding abstract concepts such as magnetism due to limited availability of graphic interactive teaching supplies. He thanked us for showing him some ways to get his students involved in what they are learning.
I felt honored to have met and worked with Mr. Misheck and his students. Observing and teaching his class helped me to better understand the multitude of challeneges most Zambian students and teachers face in the classroom. This experience enhanced my perspective on the value of educational resources. In comparison to classrooms in the United States, the classrooms in Monze and Lusaka significantly lack access to teaching supplies and teacher training. Consequently, the lessons taught in these schools primarily entail repetitive verbal and wrote memory.
Often I have complained about the many challenges I face working in the American education system. Walking away from my experiences in Zambia, I now have a greater appreciation for the ample resources I can use to overcome these challenges. I especially value the knowledge and skills I use to create opportunities for students to explore, experiment and critically analyze what they are learning. I am also grateful for the training and services I can implement to accomodate students with special learning needs. Knowing that I can provide a learning environment that is not the “survival of the fittest” battle I observed in Zambia encourages me to continue working to empower underpriveleged urban learners.