Tuesday, June 8
They kind of threw me into teaching at the Presby junior high (JHS) in Ada Foah (Ada for short), and last night before I began I was pretty nervous.
I’d shown up on Monday afternoon after arriving in Ada and they’d said, “So, you’ll teach English, French, creative writing, art, maybe photography, maybe computing. You’ll begin tomorrow.”
I was thinking, “Okay…ahh! What makes me qualified to teach these kids?” but I just nodded my head and said, “That sounds great.”
They didn’t give me a lesson plan or anything. They said I could do whatever I wanted. I asked to sit in on a couple classes before I began, and then I plunged in. I figured I could base my lessons off the games and activities I liked when I was in school.
Tuesday morning, they told me the computer teacher was absent, and I could teach whatever I wanted. Most of the kids were outside playing. There were only a few in the classroom, but that was fine with me. I like small groups.
I told the class that we were going to play a story game. I asked them to get up from their rows of desks and join me in a circle at the front. The students stood up and shuffled around, unsure what to do. I patted the floor and said, “Right here.”
Their circle was lopsided, but a circle nonetheless. I asked them to go around and tell me their names and favorite subject in school. Their Ghanaian names were difficult for me to understand (like Gifte, Berthe, and others I couldn’t even try to spell), but I would do my best to repeat them. They would laugh and help me out.
Then we started making up a story together. I asked them who they wanted our main character to be (a boy), how old is he (13), what perspective should we tell our story from (1st person), what’s our main character’s problem (he’s hungry), why (because his parents died in a car crash, and he’s living with his stepmother who is mean to him).
“Oh! We need a name for our main character. What do you think his name should be?” I asked.
“Silver Star,” said one girl.
“Okay, Silver Star. Do you guys like that?”
The class nodded.
As we came up with details, plot twists, and conflicts to embellish our tale, other kids started edging into the classroom. Soon the circle was huge, with students squeezed n and leaned over desks. There were so many I couldn’t catch all of their names. Sitting cross-legged in their blue uniforms, they huddled around me and waved their hands, bursting with ideas. It was picture perfect, but I didn’t want to spoil the moment by pulling out my camera. Sorry, CPGC.
P.S. As the kids settled into their desks to write their own versions of our story, I asked Elizabeth to put the major points on the board. I saw that she’d forgotten the first r in Silver Star and asked if they spell “silver” with a y here instead of an i. That’s when I realized that the whole time I’d been saying Silver Star, they were saying Sylvester.
Whoops. Still getting used to that whole accent gap.