On Wednesday, January 11, we had two school visits. The first school we visited was called The Convent of Mercy Academy, 'Alpha.' It used to be a private Catholic school, but after their funds were not enough, the government took over and now is labeled a public Catholic school. We started off the school visit with a tour of the campus by senior students. It is an all female school with only the teachers being co-ed (but mostly dominated by females). During our tour, we had the opportunity to interact with of the students, and experience their way of interacting with their teachers and other students.
During our tour, one of the many things that amazed me was the legend of the Pui tree. The students said that when the tree blooms for the first time and you've been studying for exams, you will be fine, but if the tree blooms the second time and you have still not started studying for finals, you will fail. The students and teachers follow the cycle of the tree and abide by its signs. I asked if it was effective and they said yes.
Each of the Luther students was given a chance to sit in on a class and observe the teacher's style of teaching and the student's style of learning. Sarah Grabe and I got to observe the Chemistry (9th grade) class. Then, Shantell Heins, Ashley Johnson, and I observed the French (8th grade) class.
We were able to see the conditions of the classrooms, which in our case was very bad. The small classrooms were clustered with around 40 students per class. The noise level was very high, you could hear the students from the neighboring classes Overall, the girls got along just fine, and were very friendly to us as we got there.
The second school visited that day was Kingston College. Their saying was: "The brave may fall, but never yield." This school is an all male school with a majority of female teachers. This school was a bit different from Alpha. Kingston classrooms were very nice, their was enough space for students and teachers to interact and walk around in class, and they had lots of school materials in class for their use. Since our Jterm class is women dominated, we were very well treated in the all-male school. From the schools we've visited, teachers showed dominance over the students. Also, for both schools visited, students were involved in many clubs which they earned badges for. Overall, the visit at Kingston college was an interesting experience.
On Thursday, January 12, we visited two primary schools. This day was, by far, the best visit day for most of us because we got to interact with little kids. The first school we visited was Meadowbrook Prep which is a private school. The teachers and students are both co-ed. For this school, we did not see much clusteredness, but it was present a tiny bit. The classrooms were very nice with ceiling fans, tiled floors, glass windows, and spotless walls (which surprises me with kids at this age). We had so much fun touring around the campus (which was very small) and also sitting in on one of their class periods observing the teacher and the students.
For this school in particular, there was lots of student participation. An interesting fact about this school is that the student body was male dominated -- The first one I've experienced in my life. The class that Olivia Toal and I sat in for was the first-grade class. It was a blast listening to them participate in class and interact with each other.
The second school visited this day was Mona Heights Primary. It is known as one of the biggest primary schools in Jamaica. It is a co-ed public school with around 1,250 students. The size of students for each class is around 50. The principal was very friendly and welcoming to their school. Although this tour was shorter than the others by an hour difference, we did enjoy the experience.
In this primary school every student and teacher are given an individual tablet for class usage, since they use ebooks, and all classrooms have smart boards and the whole campus has wifi. These are things that most U.S. schools do not have, and having the opportunity to observe this on the island of Jamaica, surprised me and everyone else in my class, plus professors. Although the classrooms were in terrific conditions, they were very cluttered and noisy. Overall, it was a great experience to have visited both schools because we were able to see the similarities and differences in each Jamaican school and also compared it to the U.S. schools. Until my next post!