Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Teacher Interrupted

You know your teaching has suffered a lot of interruptions when you find yourself wishing for the sanguine moments of a burgeoning learning walk of 15 adults whisking through your room merely wondering.

Our last day of teaching in Yemen is tomorrow and every day we have had multiple interruptions. The president of the union has stopped by every day and every day when he comes in he walks around to greet certain attendees genially and then says a few words to everyone. Today he interrupted us to say that he was inviting everyone to lunch in our honor, which brought spontaneous applause. That was in the middle of a lesson.

The president also brings random dignitaries in from the Sana’a Secretariat Education Ministry, the Government Oil and Mineral Ministry (?), and various others, who then also get to say a few words to us and the group assembled about how much they believe in education and how much they support teachers. Now granted, I’m not an administrator, nor have I played one on TV, but a little something I picked up from a couple principals I used to teach for: If you really want to support teachers, then let us actually teach! Criminy, what a concept!

On top of that, there are these random principals of different neighboring schools (this training is being held in a school) who are stopping by and insisting that we come for a tour during our breaks. The first principal who stopped by admonished us, “Why aren’t you holding your training in my school?” as if I had control of where the training was going to be held. One principal hounded us to 2 days to visit his school. On the bright side, the planets aligned enough that when we taught the “Time on Task” portion of our professional development we had secured a killer teachable moment. We gave them the definition and example of allotted time. “For example, we have from 12:45 to 2p.m. allotted in the schedule to teach you between these breaks. When you didn’t drive us back from the school visit until 1:05 and then we had a visit from Mr. Minister for 5 minutes, we lost 25 minutes of our allotted time. What then happened to our engaged time commensurately?”

This time, I don’t think anything was lost in translation.

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