MLOL Heart

Laura McEachran, Principal Teacher, Carmyle Primary School and Nursery Class

Oct 03,2018 MLOL Blogs

Yesterday was such a (for a better word) baltic! It was very windy and dusty in Malawi but another fab day nonetheless. We had a meeting with our Paired Readers before meeting with the village chiefs who had came to greet us! They asked many questions about education in Scotland and couldn’t believe it when we told them that education in primary and secondary is free for learners. From Kapeni, we headed home to plan some more lessons for the following day.


I woke up this morning eager to get back into classes and was pleased to find the temperature had increased slightly! The electricity at Kabula Cottage has been fine this year and so far I’ve only killed one spider!


We arrived at Kapeni to head straight to the library. We met with our Standard 7 Readers and asked them to go and collect another Standard 7 to train as yet another Paired Reader. We could hear them running along outside with excitement (some of them even left their shoes in the library!) and before we knew it we had around 60 learners. The librarian (John) seemed concerned about the number of the group at first, but we assured him it was fine! He’s been staying whilst we have been delivering our training and has been a great help to us. Some of our Group 1 learners demonstrated what we have been learning before the new Group (Group 2) started to practise with their new partners. We spoke to John the librarian and he helped us to create a timetable that can be used from now on. This begins tomorrow and we’re very excited to see how Group 2 get on. 


I then headed off to Standard 7 to teach my first music lesson of the day. Douglas had said that music proved to be very difficult for teachers to deliver due to lack of knowledge and instruments. My lesson focussed on time signature, however I decided to recap on note values first. I shared the learning intention and success criteria with the learners and then began looking at each note on the poster. The learners and I then clapped out the note and it’s value together. I then went onto show a musical stage, treble clef and time signature. I explained the purpose of each one and we set of creating our own rhythms using the learners themselves. I used my trusty Shoprite ball made of bags to use no hands up questioning to encourage groups of learners to clap out the beats. At the end of the lesson, we used Give Me 5 to share 5 things we had learned in the lesson. To finish off, I decided to brave a song,  not just a song but a round! The three part round worked extremely well and I even managed to recruit three ‘mini teachers’ to lead each group! The Mango song is still in my head now... Upon leaving, the teacher asked if she could keep the posters and my lesson plan to recap on this lesson during future lessons. Result!


As I made my way back to the staff room, I took a wander around to Mary’s Meals and saw a beautiful little Standard 1 learner (although she looked even younger!) running towards me. Her smile was the cutest and she ran right up to me and began cuddling my arm. Heart melted. Her name was Florence and she is the smiliest girl I think I’ve met. Douglas ushered me into the staff room and low and behold she appeared at the window and did not leave that space for around 40 minutes. I went over to take some pictures and speak to her and again, she started stroking my arm and smiling. Laura popped into the staff room after her lesson and somehow Florence managed to sneak in and run over for a cuddle. Heart melted again and I found it quite hard to say goodbye. I really hope I get to see her again for a wee cuddle. 


Grace the Depute Head Teacher had prepared us a beautiful Malawian lunch. We sat on the floor and enjoyed the home made delights of nsima, beans, rice and vegetables, accompanied with beautiful apples, oranges and bananas. It was the first time  I’ve tried nsima and I’m still undecided on the texture! It was so kind of Grace to do this for us and we thanked her kindly. 


I headed off to Standard 8 with Beatrice. My lesson today consisted of the factors that make women more vulnerable to HIV. (I did have the choice of Life Skills or Agriculture - not to self, always pick Agriculture!) In all seriousness, this is a very important part of education here. Although I was slightly nervous about the lesson, it went really well! We started off using the TALULAR ball to ask questions about prior learning. The learners were able to tell me what they knew about HIV already. I then shared the LI and SC with the class as we began to discuss some of the factors that make women more vulnerable to contracting HIV. We discussed factors such as women being too shy to tell men to wear a condom, high percentage of rape and women mainly caring for the sick and being prone to infection. I discussed with the learners how HIV and rape were both prevalent in Scotland and in the UK.  We used Think Pair Share to discuss ways in which to tackle these factors such as Gender Bias and Inequality, Assertiveness and Respecting Human Rights. Some of the learners were unsure of the word assertiveness and without even realising, I used the sign for ‘aware’ to describe assertiveness, something that they continued to use when they were explaining their ideas.  The learners then spoilt into groups to come up with one example for each heading and I encouraged group leaders to write their ideas on the chalk board. There was great discussion and the teacher was also helping to facilitate the discussions. We finished off the lesson with Give Me 5 as they shared their learning with their Think Partner. Although I was slightly anxious about delivering the lesson, I would probably say this has been the lesson I’ve enjoyed the most. Beatrice asked for my lesson plan and was taking notes throughout! She was eager for me to come back before we finish up. Result!


On the drive to pick up the others, Laura and Stephen asked our driver Adrian to drop by an art stall at the side of the road. I stayed in the van but Stephen came back to get me as it turned out the artist, Robert, was profoundly Deaf. He signed using a mix of BSL and ASL signs! It was great to be able to sign to him and his art work is stunning! #learnBSL