Out of the box(es)

Today we began teacher training at Ecole Notre Dame. Over the weekend we mapped out our three day plan and got up on time to start the part of the project that we have anticipated for the past weeks. We arrived at school around 9 am before our scheduled start at 10. We moved the desks around the classroom, where we have stored the computers, into a circle and then waited for the teachers to arrive. Once most of our crowd arrived James, in a game time change in the line up, stood up and addressed the teachers. Last night we discussed how to introduce the laptop and I think James hit all the points although I could not follow all of it. Just as James was opening his notebook to inform Devon of his speech, Devon encouraged James to utilize his French skills and it turned out well. The teachers nodded along as James explained that the laptop was not an ordinary computer, but and educational device, and then we opened it up. When the teachers opened the computer several wondered if their's was ok as it took a little while to start up. Once everyone had successfully booted up their computer we had them change their computer into French. This took a little while as we explained step by step how to go to the control panel and then the language submenu to eventually reach the French language feature. During this process we were spread out through the room and helped with skills ranging from mousing to clicking. Some learned how to scroll through the menu with the up and down keys on the keyboard. Most of the teachers speak Serere as their first language as we are working in Catholic school and that is the ethnicity and mother tongue of most of this group. Secondly, they speak Wolof as it is the language spoken in public for the vast majority of Senegal. Then most educated people speak French and the more educated people speak another language or too, usually English or another Western one. With the computers in French we opened up the Record activity. The teachers took a picture of themselves after we briefly explained the process. Again the five of us were integrated into the circle so they had easy access to additional demonstration or answers to most of their questions. After most had command of our first program we opened up the write activity and most started writing either about the training and their feelings or a short bit about their family. Taking from our collective experiences in Rwanda we decided to have each of the teachers create a multiple language dictionary with photographs. This learning project uses the Record and Write activity in addition to teaching skills such as switching programs, naming files, inserting images, and formating a document. It might sounds a bit ambitious and it turned out as such. Still the success of the project and skills aquired by the teachers was impressive. Most of the teachers completed a good portion of the project. Each teacher besides one, who had technical issues on her computer, successfully imported pictures and added text to the dictionary. We started presentations, but the force of Senegalese dejeuner (lunch) was too strong for us to combat. We decided to pick up tomorrow. After a long afternoon of discussions and rest Stephanie, Justin, James and I had the opportunity to be the first customers at the opening of our land lord's tea house. Neen, omlette sandwiches, and fataya were on the menu in addition to coffee. It was not a classic grand opening as most would imagine, but it was a nice change of pace to be in a dining room that did not contain the heat of the stove and with enough space to feel a good breeze.