Tuesday 19th January 2021

Monday, 7th January

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We were all excited to get started this morning but first had to collect supplies from the stationery shop across from the hotel. I hate having to resort to using pictures on my phone but we couldn’t describe coloured pens without doing so and labels are a thing of mystery to them. They have the label holders but no rolls or sheets of labels.

The walk down the road to the Social Centre from the hotel is punctuated by car horns and ducking out of the way of the rush hour traffic, bikes, tri-bikes, vans and people. But I do miss that first time five years ago when the seminarians used to whizz past us on their bicycles shouting, ‘Morning, teacher!’ And the monk with the sparkly fan who used to visit the shops collected alms as we made our way to work – have not seen him for some years.

It was just wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. The students were as nervous as we were. Fr Henry and Fr Peter came with all the KMSS staff to open our fortnight’s teaching, squished into the room with us. He said very kind things about Ahtutu – very pleasing. KMSS now goes into two days’ intensive assessment so we will not have support from them during this period, which is fine.

We played some games then did the English assessment, Kate, Joan and I assessing the speaking element to put the students into three classes. We have 40 of them – so much for max 36! A huge range of ability as usual which is why the ability grouping for the mornings works so well. We are lucky enough to have Anne as one of our teaching assistants. She runs English classes and mathematics classes in Pathein but has taken time to work with us too. She is also my link with the village and the prison.

The usual delicious lunch was provided by KMSS but no veggie food, except one green dish. KMSS staff were apologetic and will rectify this for future meals.

Afternoon saw the completion of the assessments. I have deliberately made the reading element very tricky so that students have to think carefully before answering.

We then did one of the science lessons which Joan organised, provided by the energetic and generous Ian Harvey of Hills Road Sixth Form College for his work in Sierra Leone. The teachers all secretly put some edible glitter on their hands in the staffroom then we played a get-to-know-you game where we shook hands with the people next to us saying their name and then moved on round the circle. In around five minutes we told them to look at their hands and they were all ‘infected’! Ensuring they knew that the glitter was harmless, we emphasised the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of infection.

Now that the assessments were complete we were able to inform the students of the groups for both English classes and the afternoon groups. The Napier team then announced briefly what they would be doing, encouraging the students to develop an understanding of how to do an excellent presentation.

Finishing off the day with our first game of corners – that old chestnut which the students love and which we use to overteach some particular element of what we have been doing (today compass points) – we put up the timings of our classes and said goodbye for today.

We expected to visit the Street Kids Shelter this evening but it is not convenient for us to do that so we have free time and I have headed back to blog and drink beer, that magical combination!

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