The worldwide Augustana College experience

Jamaica Journal 2: I Love Alpha

The Alpha Primary School will forever hold a special place in my heart. I had no idea what to expect when going there and had so many questions: What grade would I be placed in? Would I be expected to teach? If so, what would I teach? I was also nervous because I was not an education major.

All my questions were answered with the 3 days we were at the schools. I was placed in a 3rd grade classroom with Alex. The first 2 days were the two of us observing the class and how the teacher taught and getting asked a million questions by the children who had never encountered a white person. The last day was when Alex and I taught a lesson on synonyms and antonyms. It was hard coming up with a lesson for a couple reasons. One reason was that I am not an education major. I don’t know how to plan lessons for whole classes, rather I plan lessons that are for individual clients. Another reason was that we didn’t quite know what the students already knew about synonyms and antonyms. A final reason was that we were unaware of what our teacher’s teaching style was. We went with a basic review lesson that incorporated some group work and was interactive. It went very well! It was right at the student’s skill level.

I spent a lot of time talking with Alex and Anne about the differences in teaching in Jamaica in America. I came into this trip thinking we would help the Alpha schools and improve their system. But really, we were there to get ideas from them and spread our ideas. It was weird at first to see how rote everything is at the Alpha schools however, it really seems to work. With an average class size of 40, it makes sense why there is so much repetition. Also, repetition seemed to help the students! It was also weird at first to see all the kids hitting and fighting each other while the teacher just stood there and kept teaching. While I wanted to interject and break up the fighting and make everyone say sorry to each other, I didn’t because despite the fighting, the children were still learning and were still friends with each other. Maybe Americans baby their students too much and spend too much time stopping the students from being disruptive instead of just teaching.

Overall, I just wanted to make sure the group of us didn’t come across as having a “God complex” and that we were better. The teacher whose class I sat in on kept asking Alex and I if she had similar lessons as American teachers and we really aren’t that much different! She was shocked to find that out. That just goes to show how little we know about each other’s countries and that there should be more communication and collaboration!

Leave a Reply