Hello Dr. Shaeffer!
I apologize for just now getting back to you. Internet here is scarce, slow and expensive- so I have been using my internet for school work. That is the only drawback with doing the student teaching in a developing country!
Student teaching in Cameroon has been such a blessing to me. I am very passionate about teaching children in under-resourced communities because they are often the most neglected. Therefore, this has been an incredible opportunity to continue developing professional and life skills enabling me to better pursue that dream.
I have been teaching in a government primary English school, which means it is a public school that teaches all courses in English. I teach forty students (the average class has seventy!) in the equivalent of 4th grade, but have students in my class ranging from ages eight to thirteen! Needless to say, classroom management and differentiation have been quite the challenge!
The school has no electricity so each class is very open to the outside. Therefore, we often get visits throughout the day from goats, lizards and mosquitoes (I call them our class pets!), which always keeps class time quite exciting! The only teaching aid in the class is a chalkboard, there are no books provided in the school for students to read and writing utensils are slim. This has stretched me to think innovatively and creatively to keep my students engaged while ensuring they understand everything I am teaching.
Students here in the public schools are struggling with the English language due to the lack of resources. I have been working daily with students and teachers in phonics, grammar and spelling. Everyday I have been able to tutor students from my own class, and other classes in reading instruction. My cooperating teacher and I have also started holding class on Saturdays in order to maximize individual learning time with the children.
While student teaching in Cameroon has helped me grow in a multitude of professional skills, it is the enriching interactions with the students and culture here that I will treasure and value forever. My students live in severe poverty and in a place where darkness and depravity affect them at an early age. Despite my students’ economic and background status, it is evident how each child is rich and abundant in passion, in joy and in hope. I see it every day in their dancing, in their singing, and in their deeply rooted desire to learn. Each interaction with a child has been a cultivating experience! The more energy, knowledge and love I give to my students, the more I learn from them- but in twofold- culturally, professionally and spiritually. Student teaching in another culture is a great reminder that while I may become a “teacher”, I will forever remain “student.” I am so thankful for my time here.
- Brently Rauppius '13