There is no “perfect” way to teach. I observed Tanzanian teachers here writing notes on the chalkboard, the children copying them down in a notebook, and then answering questions about them. To me this seemed so boring and dry at first glance. I wanted to try to shake things up and make things more fun for my kids. In my college courses, I learned so many integrative and up-and-coming instructional techniques. The minute I tried to put them into practice there was total chaos. I tried doing a group activity. It was clear my students had never done anything like this before, and they definitely didn’t understand the behavior control needed to complete it. It was a complete mess.
Since my first big flop, I’ve tried to do more straight-forward lessons that my students will be used to. Then for each lesson, I try to add in a little something special at the end, something that pushes them slightly outside their comfort zone. Nothing that takes too much time or too much self-control. That isn’t something I can teach them in three and a half weeks. Gradually easing different instructional techniques into my students’ day seems to be working pretty well so far, and I am seeing a lot of growth. I now see that the way the teachers here teach isn’t wrong or bad in any way. The students respond to it and learn a lot from it in most cases. It’s been great seeing different instructional techniques than what I learn back home and getting the chance to put them to use.