The Hall

This slice is about a memory that I want to hold onto, one that reminds me of some of the pre – Covid era, at school.

There are occasions when you visit places that just spark distinct memories for you. We’ve been supervising our few students at school in our Multipurpose hall.

One morning, on entering, I just had a feeling that was quite interesting. Walking in, I remembered all the different events that I’ve either participated in or watched in the multipurpose hall.The images that came to me were extremely vivid, lively, colourful and sometimes brought aromas that whiff around the event or occasion. To reminisce I’m going to list some of the events here. Interestingly, I can clearly remember what took place on each of those occasions. 

We have photographic memories and I hope they last as long as possible as they release welcome feelings that should not be lost. 

International Festival: What I remember are the many colourful clothes, flags and images that share the sixty or so countries that are represented at our school. Always a phenomenal day with a cultural blast. We are normally taken round the world, tasting food from all around the world , experiencing dances, language, music and a rainbow of clothing. The frenzy is sometimes overwhelming as parents join their children and staff to begin an extremely electric parade. An image that is one to behold. On such occasions you wish the day would never end. The few speeches that are shared in this hall affirms the unity and celebrated diversity of the strong community.

All Staff Meeting: This normally happened on the last day of school, when we celebrated staff leaving and long serving members. Images of the blue kente stoles folded pristinely come to me.

All staff buffet: This buffet was always confusing with the different aroma: local, spicy food and the mild alternatives. What I remember clearly are the white table cloth on islands of tables surrounded by a few chairs.

Middle School Theatre: One that stands out and was beautifully choreographed, The Lion King. It was perfect. The students overdid it and the pride that I felt as part of the congregation was inexplicable.

High School Pop Chain:This one stood out, it took me to my childhood days, when music, dances and hairstyles from the past decades were displayed and performed. 

P.E: Colourful balls, students’ voices and movement, fast manouevres.

Field Day: Groups made up of students from different grade levels, wearing their house colours playing different games, I was sometimes the sweaty teacher with the whistle in hand.

Local Teacher Seminars; When we had to use this hall because our numbers had risen over the years from 150 to almost 600 local teachers. They started their day here with a warm breakfast and a lecture about Education generally and Teaching in our Ghanaian local schools in particular.

Holiday Concerts: Oh those were so cute. Students in their Sunday best, some with a little make-up or glitter for the occasion. The lights and colours were  extremely impressive. One that stands out was when the Elementary school sang different parts of a French song: “La Ballade”. The rendition that sparks goosebumps all over you.

Basketball matches: That was where I peeked to watch E play a match. My middle schooler gets so embarrassed seeing Mum watch her team.

Many of these events and celebrations happened multiple times. I’m sure there are more and more events that I will remember and hold onto. Oops I forgot the celebration before inter-school middle and high school team sports competitions when our Elementary classes created banners and chants for teams from other West African countries. The memories will keep pouring in.

#SOL21 #SOLSC

Today, One day

All lined up, we waited patiently to be called. In line we had muffled chats that we strained to hear.

As some of us had not seen each other for almost a year, we could not wait to chat, properly. We were made to sit a meter or so apart, whilst waiting after the test. How could we converse with our masks, masking our shrill voices?

Chairs had been arranged like a chess board with spaces between boxes. Our hidden smiles spewed into our eyes.

It felt like the first day of school, but this time we had been summoned for a different but important undertaking.

I met ‘strangers”, colleagues, for the first time, I’m sure they were smiling at me as I was too. Maybe our hand gestures would suffice.

We have a tradition of welcoming new friends to our international school community. It’s all different now, there are opportunities to meet online but it is no where near adequate.

One day… it’ll all be different.

#SOL21. #SOLSC

The Fall

We played in the garden after school everyday. I really enjoyed being outdoors and did everything from climbing trees to riding bikes. I believe it was a sunny Wednesday afternoon, that is when our home teacher Mr. Mensah screeched his noisy motorbike through the  driveway.

I always had my exercise books tidily laid out on the table under the thatched, ‘summer’ hut. The dusty blackboard was also positioned against one of the wobbly pillars. My half-chewed pencil was parked tidily beside my book, ready for my lesson. 

That gave me the opportunity to play for a few more minutes before the long, drawn lesson. Mr. Mensah was a stout, soft-spoken, conscientious teacher. He never arrived late and was very organized. His plan for the two hours was the same each Wednesday: note taking, memorizing facts and many practice questions. 

I was not the only student so it felt just like school all over again. My cousins J and A who were in the same class at our Elementary school always joined me, so did R, my sister, who was a year after us. I must have been almost nine years old.

As soon as the screech came to a stop, I ran towards the slide to get my last round. I tripped really badly, fell on my back and scraped my body against the metal handle. 

“Wooo, wooo, wooo,” I bawled! All the little legs ran towards me, causing the dust from the dry ground to surround us in a haze. They grabbed my arms and lifted me gently up the stairs to the main door of the house. I helped them out by dragging myself up. They placed me on the huge sofa and called Auntie.

I lifted my head slowly to see them all rush outside for the lesson. I smiled sneakily! I had escaped the day’s session.

Hidden Talent

She opened the book with her delicate hands, her fingers as thin as pens, seemed fragile as she confidently spoke whilst leafing through her book. Her audience were enchanted.

This, she had created by herself, at home. An accordion book that had doors she could open and windows she could see through. She gently took us on a journey to discover her hidden talent. Very impressed we all applauded, silently.

As she looked up, she noticed we were all awed by her creation. Faces in rectangles on the screen.

How swiftly one’s impression of another changes.

This continues to be a lesson to me, as a teacher of many years. I still need these reminders to seek the hidden strength of my students. This was our sharing opportunity when students book a slot to present a creation or talent.

In class, young lady was always quiet and shy, therefore did not volunteer her words, until called. Presenting her creation to the whole grade level must have been daunting for her, but she performed so eloquently and impressed us all both with her words and her handicraft.

One Halo Here

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I’ve never seen anything like this.

Through the lens of the camera,

 I saw it, squinting

As the bright rays of the sun 

shot straight at my face.

I continued regardless, squinting

Someone had called my son

They had all seen the rare find

How did they know it was there?

Something so camouflaged that can be seen

only when a photograph is taken.

 

Everybody saw it

Interestingly they all took photographs of it.

Mine was a struggle as I was seeking perfection

A full circle

I had to take many shots of it.

 

So many questions were asked

I shared it with friends and was truly excited

I was hoping I would receive answers

Perhaps someone would figure out what this is.

Some called it an eclipse others said it was a halo.

 

The beautiful multi-coloured ring around the sun

Was just enchanting. 

The struggle to capture it was worth all the effort

The claim is that it was caused by thin clouds

Tiny crystals in the Earth’s atmosphere creates this

I am left with more questions than I started with

When will this appear again?

How will we know it is there?

 

Veiled by the cloud but caused by them

The clouds formed the halo as 

Particles of tiny ice crystals

Swept across the sun

The two Rs caused this;

Reflection and Refraction

Another Science lesson to be had.

 

New Everything

Almost forty students appeared on the screen, as soon as the waiting room was opened. Totally different from nervous students walking into a classroom. Excited, bubbly- looking, expectant students with smiles on their faces showed up for their first day at school. This time, the teachers were anxious, it seemed funny but that is how we felt.

I called it a roller coaster day, one that swept us up, down and everywhere. Soon after one lesson, there was another, no time to breathe, still online, expecting some good work, just like ‘real’ school.

When another teacher popped into my  Writing lesson it was just great, supportive and calming. I felt reassured as she observed a student not engaging and pointed it out to me. I suggested she confer with the student in the breakout room,  whilst I carried on with the whole class, that helped.

The lessons were interactive and Ms. A’s videos were the icing on the cake. So perfect, reiterating what was being taught.

This was a short day but seemed extremely long and tedious, I guess it is because there were many parts that were new. New format, new students, new parents and colleagues, new schedule and new role/title.  Overwhelming, if you ask me, but teachers can be resilient, this time a little unnerving with the added virtual teaching.

The nice surprise was my guest. Our principal popping in, she mentioned how smooth the lesson was, that was the fruit on the cake, this time.

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Welcome Crow

Welcome crow,

You are back again.

Your piercing caw disturbs me whilst I attend my Zoom meetings.

Are you with your friends?

The cawing sounds louder and closer.  There must be something on the mango tree that keeps inviting you. I am tempted to shut my window but that will block the light breeze.

How can I let you know you are disturbing?

When are you going to stop cawing?

I am considering moving my cluttered desk to a different spot in the house.

Hmmm, I am reluctant to do that though, maybe I will just shut the window and leave you to enjoy your space.

My Thoughts

This may be the beginning of my research about crows. Since COVID 19, I’ve been hearing many more crows, their screeches have become regular. I have many questions and believe my search for answers will lead me to a whole new world of  tropical birds .I am not sure if I am ready for that.

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Reminiscing

 

The warmth of the past

Refreshed in a way only 

You can experience here

in this space.

 

Not exactly memories

But an inexplicable peace

That surrounds you

With the sights and sounds

Of the past you behold.

 

Only you can drift into

That space

Where the beauty and

enjoyment of now is held.

 

Life can be beautiful when the past merges with ‘that’ now. The feeling you capture that you do not want to let go, but stretch till the day comes to an abrupt end when you revere that space.

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Home and Away

Through my teaching resource research, I discover many treasures, one of the best is Window Swap. Watching the videos transported me all around the world and back. I am an inquisitive learner,  an inquirer and this was really inspiring. I just love searching and finding. That is what I always want to wake up to, different challenges to my learning exploration that helps me thrive. This one was new and fresh, just like the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, filling my life and occupying that gap.   

Allowing a person to stay at one place whilst enjoying a different  environment. There really is something extraordinary in the exploratory feeling. Especially knowing that some places are similar to where you but still makes your environment still appealing. It actually reaffirms my love for where I am and entices me to be elsewhere at the same time. The push and pull of our lives.

Even the sounds I heard on the Window-Swap, were either captivating and reassuring or inviting and reminiscing. What also moved me is the domination of nature, beauty that has no bounds. This also applies to the other places not so close to home, but close enough to drive to. 

Where I am in Ghana, that would be the beaches. It is obvious we do not take enough advantage of the expanse of our beaches. The serenity it draws and the wonder of the whole environment. I am always stunned by the sea, shores, different creatures, shells, sand, the smells ,the saltiness of the sea and the breeze.

We live in a wonderful world.

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The Journey to Times Square

E is so relaxed these days and has her day organized to suit her. I tell her to write down her daily schedule so she has a balance but she always tells me, “Mum I know what I am doing.” A teenager in control, I guess! I leave her to organize her day. E loves to do many things, another newly discovered pride of hers is crocheting and I will write about that on another day. 

From day one, E, my middle schooler took this on, a seemingly out of character action. Covid19 has taught me a lot about my own children. The perseverance, resilience and determination to take on projects and see them through. E chose a puzzle from Amazon. The puzzle picture E selected on Amazon could not be sent to Ghana, so we chose our second option, a thousand piece puzzle that looked like the pieces would be bigger than what we received. In a rare moment of excitement, E just took over. I was fascinated as the puzzles we have completed before had much bigger pieces and were so much easier to put together.

This puzzle, however, seemed complicated to me. Times Square??? The colours, neon lights, fiddly details. I told my husband I can never start working on it without my glasses on. In my head I knew this would take weeks to complete. Some of the observations are very poignant and led me to think about my students and their capabilities, when they are given the choice to complete activities they enjoy. I thought about the reasons why we should allow them to come up with their own solutions or ways to complete tasks. This is making me really think about the different kinds of learners that come to us as teachers and how we have to embrace what they bring.

So, E took control and spent hours, daily fitting the ‘tiny dots’ together, that is how they seemed to me. Whenever I joined her she shooed me away not literally but subtly as she knew exactly what she was doing. Documenting her work by taking photographs helped me notice the development. 

Once I sat beside her, she asked,” Mum have you been to Times Square?”

I bragged I had been there every time I visited New York, and had experienced it both day and night.

E took fixing the puzzle very seriously, she had a plan, which I thought was or would be obvious, sort colors and have the picture open so you see each part all the time. Well I was wrong, she had the picture flung under the table or anywhere but open, which I thought was so surprising. Had she memorized the picture? Can you memorize a picture that is so detailed? What was she thinking whilst working? Sometimes she listened to a podcast or music so had earphones plugged in and would not even realise I was hovering.

This burst of ‘busyness’ happened over a period of two weeks. Until Dad took over and spent a couple of evenings sorting out the rest of the pieces. I realised he had a plan, he took the loose pieces out and laid them face up spending many minutes scrutinizing the picture with glasses on his face but still squinting in order to match the same coloured pieces he had sorted and stacked together tidily. 

With my teacher’s head on, I reminded myself that students have different learning styles. I appreciated the communal effort but wished E and her dad were working together all the time, maybe they could learn from each other. Dad must have popped in once or twice and made comments to encourage E, who thought, that’s not the way I work. So they seemed to end up taking turns.

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The puzzle is almost done, resembling how pieces of luxury chocolate cubes are enjoyed at different times. One day the whole piece will be finished and you’d wish another whole new block would appear. Through this observation I have learned a lot about E’s strategy or approach as a learner, her independence, risk-taking and thinking through the whole process. One of my observations left me thinking about her technique. She kept saying I have to finish with the Coca Cola sign and she did! She was actually setting small silent goals for herself, which it seems she achieved. Therefore perseverance does help and self-motivation too. Hopefully these traits will be applied or have been applied through her studies, but as a parent, I did not know this about my daughter.

 

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