As I approach the half-year mark in Uganda, I'm also beginning to actually teach my computer classes at St. Theresa's. Classes are going to be interesting since this is my first classroom experience, and it will be an especially huge struggle to teach 80 girls at a time with 20 computers. Last term, I arrived towards the end of the year and couldn't be placed on the class schedule, so I was substitute teaching and I had the lab open in the morning if any teachers wished to come by for semi-private lessons. Many teachers took advantage of this, and I think they benefitted from having my full attention. I wouldn't call myself a computer genius by any means, but all of the teachers and students here have either no experience at all or their computer knowledge is extremely limited.
I also know that the only reason that I am good at anything is because I have flat-out failed at it at one time or another. I had a professor in architecture school who always told me that I'll never learn anything by getting it exactly right, that I'll learn the most about my project and about myself if I completely make a disaster out of it, figure out what went wrong and why this particular system didn't work, and move on from there.
My first day of substitute teaching was something like a complete disaster. All of the students were yelling, no one knew how to turn on a computer let alone open a program, I still had teachers in the room from the morning lesson asking me questions about font color, and I hadn't known that I was going to teach until about five minutes before. I pretty much had a small break down, called my counterpart, Christine- the other computer teacher at school whom I will be leaving to continue all of my work after I leave in 2010- and told her that I couldn't handle it and needed help. She came, made everyone be quiet, and also made about half of the girls leave the room. Even with her help, I still managed to mess everything up pretty well. Now that I've already made a disaster of one day's work, hopefully I can end up being a successful facilitator by the end of my service.
Tomorrow is my first official day on the class schedule. I keep hoping that the power will be out so that I won't have to do anything with computers. I know I've got a good amount of failure left to do here, and I'm really okay with that. The only way I'm going to figure out how to teach 80 girls in a space the size of my family room is to completely mess it up, reconfigure what I'm doing, and move on. I've got my lesson plans ready, but no matter how prepared I am, I know it will still be a big challenge (and that's the whole reason I wanted to come to Africa in the first place!)
Please, send any prayers you can towards my students and fellow staff members.
Love & Prayers from Masindi,