I don’t know where to even begin with this blog post. So many experiences I have had in this amazing country have lead me into learning something new. I have learned so much about the culture here, American culture, teaching, and, most importantly, myself. I could write 25 pages on what I will be taking away from my time here in Tanzania and because of that, it will be easier for me to only focus on what I have taken away from teaching and (in general) how this experience has forever changed me.
I will take away an endless amount from my time spent at Lutheran Tetra Primary School. I honestly think that my confidence in my teaching capabilities has skyrocketed. Before, I had a hard time thinking quickly on my feet when it came to finding the best way to help my students learn. Being here, that is almost all I do when I teach. I do not know my students on a personal level, or even know their names for that matter, and I was successful in teaching them new topics in mathematics. I was able to differentiate my instruction, on the spot, when students did not understand. On one of my first days, in my standard three class I was faced with the challenge of teaching a student, who had no idea how to multiply any numbers, to multiply a single digit times a double digit. I noticed that he was adding every number (correctly I should mention) instead of multiplying. I did not have time to sit with this student one-on-one for very long because I had a class of 35+ to manage. I chose to show him a method when he multiplies. I told him to draw circles(groups) of the first number in the multiplication problem as well as dots of equal quantities inside of them, which came from the second number. I used the terms “plates” and “food” so my student could visually see what it means to multiply. I asked him to tell me how much food total and after he added correctly I let him show me the next problem using this method. He smiled so big and was so happy when he did it successfully on his own, I (am not extremely emotional) could have cried. This is one example of how I learned to think quickly on my feet when teaching students who need differentiated instruction.
I believe it is needless to say that Africa has changed me. I learned so much about myself as a teacher (touched on a little in the paragraph above) and as a member of a community. I think that one common occurrence I noticed in Tanzania that I hope/plan to take back with me to America is the respect, kindness, and helpfulness people have for one another. I saw this in my school when my students would greet me every morning, on the streets where someone needed help backing their car in reverse and a total stranger assisted in the process, and in stores when multiple items fell off a shelf and anyone who saw immediately rushed to help. If someone dropped a pen in America, someone who saw may or may not pick it up and give it to him or her. In Tanzania, I believe almost everyone who saw you drop something would pick it up and hand it to you. I went to the masai market and made a deal with a women in her shop. As I was walking away, pleased with my purchase, she told me my backpack was unzipped. This is the kindness/helpfulness that almost every person in Tanzania has towards each other and the mzungu(white people). This aspect of their personalities and their culture is what I hope to bring back to America for the rest of my life. I would like to think that I am respectful, kind, and helpful, but not as passionate as the people I have met and seen here. I aspire to be half as respectful, kind, and helpful as the Tanzanians.