As the red van pulled into the gate of Mae Dos Pobres on a wet Tuesday afternoon, I heard a roar from the school building. It was a resounding sound of cheer and while I parked the van in the front, they spilled out. All two hundred odd little ones in shades of blue.
I heard “ ti amchi teacher’ and another say ‘ aani ti amchi’ and BW LiS Resource Persons Sheena and Krystal were grinning while wielding book boxes, stationary and worksheet and dodging loving hands and eager voices of ‘ library teacher?”
This is the response a program like LiS engenders in school when transacted in the spirit of Bookworm, where children learn to love books. I was heartened.
I drive the Resource team hard at BW. It is said that I work hard and I push others to work harder and while it might be true it is because of a drive and an energy to make a program like this work, where we have not gone before.
We chose Mae Dos Pobres for many reasons, none of them are financial. We desperately need money to keep the program alive in Nuvem and our teachers paid, but for now we know that what we are doing is being received with such joy by these potential readers.
Mae Dos Pobres is a school that can become a model for what is possible when vision is clear. It is led by Vilma Henriques who is small and certain measures is transforming the classroom into a rich vibrant space. The teachers are an active enthusiastic group that welcome the BW team every week into their classrooms to take over. the children are the biggest attraction. they are eager to learn, enthusiastic to participate and enjoy the fresh perspectives of our young RPs.
Today was a day for worksheets and some form of assessment. We need to understand where the children are in their literacy development and where the scope for scaffolding and extension programs lie. What was wonderful is the excitement and the grace with which they attacked the worksheets. Many of them feeling the rush of a success, many more showing us how swiftly their eyes move and hands copy responses that are not their own and others awaiting support.
What the children did not directly tell us but I knew was that we should have piloted our little worksheet with a small sample first. I felt that it was badly designed by me. Despite many attempts and reminders to self to keep the child in the focus, I worded many sections wrongly, I chose inappropriate images and somewhere along the way I forgot that this must be a joyful exercise.
The children stayed positive. They completed what they could with happiness, never forgetting to ask for attention, and did what they could and as much as they could. I fear for the results. I know it will indicate that our children are far from the Grade Appropriate reading levels we must dream of, but I also celebrate that they are getting there. Intuitively I could see most children have made strong symbol sound associations, have a growing vocabulary bank are eager to narrate events and provide explanations even if it is in their own language and the highlight of it all is that they are eager to learn.
As we pulled away two and a half hours later , I felt we should claim that these are ‘amchi burgim’