Hmm this grant isn’t really done still.  I’ve got most of the information typed up but now the big problem is finding fast enough internet to load and navigate the Microsoft Grants Manager Peace Corps Grants Portal. This is a dumb part of my job. A really cool part of my job is that I get to plan events like the Founzan Girls’ Disc Golf Tournament this year for International Women’s Day.

The FGDGT started as just a way to get girls to play on the disc golf course I recently finished building near my house in village. Whenever I go out there with Derek and my discs I seem to only attract boys, and not the sensitive ones either. Once I had to take a disc from a boy because he told some girls walking by that they couldn’t play (girls who didn’t even look like they wanted to play). Then, at each tee-pad I’d ask the boy again if (just in general) girls were allowed to play and he’d say no, and I’d say ok you can’t have your disc back for this hole either. I don’t think he got it.  The problem though, I think, is that since I’m so used to females not approaching me on disc golf courses in America, I didn’t really notice at first what was going on here in Founzan.  Now I see it though, and the FGDGT will be an opportunity for the girls in both of my 5e classes to learn and play a new sport, with food and drinks and prizes.  I’m getting a lot of help from home on this one, in the form of donations and real disc golf trophies and some beautifully hand-made bracelets with words of empowerment on them for each participant.  So I’m very excited and grateful this Girls’ Disc Golf Tournament is coming together the way it is.

Switching gears, turns out my neighbor Fatao has a younger, more annoying brother named Saiouba. Saiouba can’t be older than two years, so his brain is in a developmental stage where it’s full of rocks and thinks it can get whatever it wants. He and Fatao are a force together: Fatao unlocks my courtyard door with a stick and Saiouba comes in through the tear in my screen door that Derek made and fills his shirt with whatever is in my house that he wants, saying in local language, “I want [whatever is in my house he wants]”. This all transpires in front of me, so it’s not really stealing, and Saiouba can’t walk very fast with a shirt full of sweet potatoes, for example. So I’ll catch up to him and pick him up and shake him and he’ll cry and scream and thrash as I collect my eight or so sweet potatoes from the ground in front of all my laughing neighbors who are saying things like “Ha ha, Saiouba wants sweet potatoes”. He’s also been climbing onto the back of my bike lately, which means he’s been coming with me to play disc golf or drink dolo in the marche. Or, if I have to go to work or have a meeting with somebody, I have to bike over to his house and get his mother to peel him off the back of my bike while he cries and screams and thrashes.  Lots of crying, screaming, and thrashing with that kid, if I’m honest.  When I’m not home and he wants to hang out, he’ll just wait for me in the sand outside of my courtyard door, often falling asleep from a long day’s work of being a ridiculous and unreasonable two year old.

Saiouba outside my courtyard door

Saiouba outside my courtyard door

Teaching is hard. This part of the year is kind of the Wednesday of the education school year. We’re halfway done and everyone is getting ansty/can’t believe there’s still four months to go. Because of this, I’ve had some pretty rough classes lately.  My 5eC class really knows how to get under my skin.  I’ll turn from the board after writing a bunch in order to explain some mathematical idea (from my heart!) and notice that I’ve got a dozen students quietly chatting with their neighbor, a dozen students mindlessly copying what I’ve written on the board, maybe another dozen with their heads down, sleeping.  It can get frustrating quickly when you know that your passing rate is just over 50%.  You guys could totally solve for « x » and add fractions if you’d just open up your notebooks, shut your mouths, and lift your heads off the tables!  Come on!  What’s really hard is that I don’t think other teachers at the school deal with the same problems.  If a kid is chatting they get thrown outside or if a kid has their head down the teacher marks two points off the next test.  I’m too much of a softy, though, and my kids know it.  I need to get mean, but how do you be mean to a bunch of cute African pre-teens who can’t understand how to solve for « x » or add fractions??  I’m definitely not a teacher.

Clayton Blunk


8 réflexions sur “

  1. You are a teacher in every thing you are doing, just by your presence and your awareness which may also factor in a child, a dog and « x ». I stand in awe. Love, G’ma

  2. I remember your Aunt Wendy being frustrated with a math class of Vo-Ag students informed by their VoAg teacher that math wasn’t really that important. She bowed her back introducing math problems relates to interest rates on new tractors, capacity of silos, protein cost in rations etc. clearly, she blew the Vo Ag teacher out of the water. Is there something important to your charges for x in the algebraic equation. Actually, hours early release from school, might be more valuable than letting kicked by your peers. 2 cents. Agree with GMa, you are a good teacher in human and gender relations. We are proud of you. Love GPa

  3. This is where the fun is ready to begin! You have to reach this point. Time to tap into all those seeds planted by amazing teachers in you life. You said it yourself…teach from your « heart »… and maybe take some points of for sleeping on the next test too 🙂

  4. Hi Clay,
    Teaching is tough but the fact that you want to succeed means you will! I would suggest setting up some partner work or group work where the students are actually helping one another. It can get loud but you will have them on task and perhaps can work with the really struggling students. Incorporating some rewards for good behavior usually works well. It could be eating lunch with you some day or playing disc golf after so many points.

  5. Clay, Your story brought back a memory – I used to find it impossible to stay awake in 9th grade history class. One day, while enjoying a peaceful light nap, head on desk, I was rudely awakened by my teacher slamming both hands, palms down, on the desk next to each ear. Instantly awake and alert from that point forward, for the rest of the year. Not sure how that would go down over there, but it sure worked over here.

    • Clay – make sure we get a read on Uncle Scott’s current hearing before utilizing this method. Clearly – he’s a student of the 60s/70s.

  6. Clay, do you have to teach them all simultaneously? Could you make 3 (or more) smaller groups…i.e. above avg, avg, below avg and reach them where they’re at? The ones that « get it » can either go ahead to the next lesson or be helpful to the ones that don’t get it. Better to make sure they understand what they’re doing and not do as much than to just keep going and failing. You could require a 70% on the test to move on to the next lesson. If not, they get to keep learning the old stuff until they know it. That might motivate them. And you GPa has a good point – can you help them understand the relevance to their lives? Knowing how far something is can help them plan how long it will take to get there has an « x » in in somewhere. 🙂 Being compassionate is a HUGE part of being a great teacher. You’re well on your way.

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