We’ve had an amazing start to a belated school year. We were suppose to begin on August 13, but delayed one and a half weeks to make sure that we were past the initial incubation period from the first Ebola case and subsequent infections from doctors/health care workers that had contact with the Liberian man.
I had a great start to teaching Grade 6 English language arts with probably about 75% of my students in-country, and most of the students that weren’t here yet had signed up for the Google Classroom that I created. Google classroom is pretty cool and an easy way to share documents, links, PowerPoints, Prezis, youtubes…any information that you may want to share with students, and it also keeps track of submitted assignments. I’ve posted the same lecture/presentation that I’ve used to guide our in-class work and uploaded homework too, super simple. By our third day, we were really starting to bond, doing good work together and getting into a routine. Unfortunately, the Nigerian Ministry of Education has cut our first week of school short by shutting us down. That’s right, all schools in the entire country, public and private, are being closed until October 13th (seriously) to control the movement of children to make sure they’re safe…never mind that churches, grocery stores, public transportation, restaurants and every other public space in the country is open. At least when we were closed down for a month in Mongolia due to H1N1 all public areas were closed down too so this just doesn’t quite make sense, but I suppose I am in a foreign land and things are just done differently here. Regardless, we’re hopeful that Greg will somehow work some magic with his documentation of how above the curve we’ve been in terms of creating a hygienic and safe environment with infrared thermometers, Ebola lectures by the school doctor, a legion of cleaners that are tasked with sanitizing all surfaces (door knobs, light switches, toilets) when he meets with Ministry folks tomorrow. But, no guarantees; as Greg says, they are bureaucrats. Personally, I have to find a learning experience in everything so I’m focusing on the challenge of creating and maintaining a robust teaching environment online.
On an oddly related note, we’ve been watching the original Star Trek series the past couple weeks with dinner, all from the movie menagerie put together by Doug. We happened to turn on the next episode from season 1 titled, “Miri” about an Earth-like civilization where all people contract an incurable virus once they reach puberty…hits a little too close to home right now. If you’re interested in a blast from the past, here’s a link to sate your thirst: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Miri_(episode)
As always, we’ll keep you posted.