The Bigger Picture...

I often lose sight of the bigger picture while going about the business of our work; when I walk into a classroom, I miss the tens of curious, smiling faces for the rigorous inspection of lesson plans, classroom management and time on task.  I’m constantly looking for the improvements – how can the groups be managed better, can we set up the tablets more efficiently, why is there a spelling mistake in that poster?

That’s why weeks like these are incredibly refreshing for me.  We had visitors in Joel village!  On Sunday and Monday we welcomed Rob and Patti Ivry – longtime friends and supporters to the organization.  After a wonderful day in the village on Sunday, I got to experience our classrooms through the eyes of someone seeing our work for the first time.  I was able to see their faces as we traveled through dusty roads and came upon one of our schools in the middle of nowhere. I was able to witness their delight as our first graders welcomed them to our classrooms with a very loud “Good morning, madam/sir!”.  And I was all ears when they compared our Impact Network classrooms to those they have seen around the world. 

Our classroom management was amazing – students appeared to lose little time settling into their desks and getting into groups.  The content seemed quite sophisticated – fourth graders spelling chlorophyll (I admit to wondering whether it was one L or two Ls, but the ten-year-old at the board was correct!) and seventh graders learning the difference between “who” and “whom” (all three of us got one of these examples wrong!).  Students were engaged and mostly undistracted by our presence in the classroom.  Teachers, even some that had only been with us a few months, were clearly focused, determined, and excited about teaching.  After a day observing three schools and over a dozen classes, Rob and Patti led their own classes – of yoga, and art work! Despite a language barrier, Mpumulo’s grade three kids had an incredible time.  A huge thank you to them for taking time out of their trip to visit us, and giving back to the communities that we serve.  And an even bigger thank you to the teachers, staff, and especially the students, who let us into their lives on a windy Monday.