Looking back on my time in Tanzania, I realize that this place and my students there have left their impressions on me and the longer that I reflect on my experiences the more I realize what those impressions are and how they have changed me.
After teaching in Arusha Primary School for the month I have learned many things about myself as an educator, sixth graders, and the educational system in general. My school was considered well off compared to other schools in Tanzania, however, the lack of resources that I have always taken for granted from my time teaching in America presented me a challenge each and every day. I kept struggling to figure out how to teach geometry – in particular angles – to 100 students without a protractor for each student. Through this experience I have realized that while having enough resources for all of my students does in fact make lesson planning and implementation easier, it does not make or break a lesson plan; what does, in fact, is a teacher’s determination in making quality lessons and his or her ability to think outside the box and to be able to use what is around them. I witnessed some amazing lessons while in Tanzania and I kept circling back to this truth: while having resources readily available is undeniably beneficial it does not make or break teaching students the content. My friend Aric taught an amazing science lesson with just some construction paper, markers, post-its, and his imagination that got the students thoroughly engaged in his lesson.
While I was watching his lesson unfold, my views of teaching and students shifted and I was struck with my new impression. After seeing that it was possible to do something so remarkable with little resources I rose to the challenge of teaching my students geometry. With the help of my peers, I too was able to create engaging lesson plans for my students that allowed me to teach them how to draw and measure angles without having protractors for each one of my students.
I have learned so much from my students and my peers while on this trip. Another lasting impression that I am taking away from this trip is how universal students are. They all want to learn, to be liked, to be loved by their friends and teachers. I will forever miss my students and I will forever miss Tanzania.