It’s amazing how much a person can learn in such a short amount of time. So much has happened in just three short weeks and I’ve learned from most every experience I’ve had. One of the first thoughts that comes to mind concerning things I’ve learned is Kiswahili. Everyone here is very eager to teach us the language so that we can speak it back home in America. Although my fluency in the language is comparable to a toddler, I am still proud of the small conversations I can hold. My main motivation for learning Kiswahili is the secretary at my school. She reminds me of a wise grandmother who has high expectations for her grandchildren. The very first week, she told me I had to speak Kiswahili to her everyday so I could learn. Today, she told me I was doing very well, so I feel pretty good about that!
I’ve also learned a lot about teaching. For me, the shift here is hard to describe because in some ways, the shift is subtle. I feel more confident and mature as a teacher. There’s just something about conquering a challenge that changes the way you view yourself and how you teach. Just different, but hard to describe. I’ve learned how to communicate a lesson without many words as well as improve checking for understanding, interpreting student thinking, and asking better questions to gather formative data. I’ve learned that being creative doesn’t always mean using the newest technology, best methodology, and coolest interactive game. I’ve learned that being effective looks different in different settings. I’ve learned to take risks and then reflect on the outcome to improve my practice. I’ve learned to do things just to see what will happen. Hamna shida, right?
One of the other things I’ve learned that I want to mention is the joy of… togetherness? I’m not sure there’s a word to describe what I’m thinking of. The people of Tanzania are so friendly and welcoming to us almost everywhere we go. People on the streets want to say hello and ask us how we are. The teachers, and students, at school are grateful for our presence and we for theirs. It’s just not the same in America. Not that that’s a bad thing, just different. It’s also been nice for us to be together, and by us I mean all of us students. Friendships formed quickly and I love hearing all the laughter every night. We have a good group going here. I look forward to continuing my learning during the next week and half, and also to using the experience to learn when I get home as I reflect and use my new knowledge.