For my first entry I will be writing about my first couple of weeks working at In His Footsteps, one of the two crechés I have been assigned to. At this site, there are clear space limitations present. The larger room has been split into two classrooms with around 26 children in each. The outdoor play area likewise faces challenges with space, so much so that it would appear impossible for there to be enough space for the children in a classroom to be able to play without running into each other. The lack of teachers present in the township reflects the classrooms in the creché as well with only one teacher per every 26 children.
These are some of the challenges facing the site, yet the teachers and staff have found ways to work past these challenges in order to better the service they provide their students. They work tirelessly to use what they have to create a positive learning environment for the students. On many occasions the teachers will use recycled materials to create learning materials for the children to use, such as using plastic bottles in an activity that involves creating animal banks for the children to take home and use to save money. The students have likewise learned how to not only avoid each other within the cramped conditions present, but have also learned how to manage the limited amount of space to maximize their ability to play and interact with each other. They expertly weave in and out of different situations, everytime flawlessly avoiding collisions and continuing their play.
The atmosphere that teachers and staff have created here also resemble less a work environment but rather resembles that of a family. Each teacher respects one another and constantly communicate and have created daily routines that fairly share the space their classrooms inhabit. They likewise teach and manage their respective classrooms in ways that respect the shared space, often having their classrooms take turns being outside in order to help provide a quieter atmosphere inside for book readings and other activities that require a quieter environment.
While I have only been at the site for a few days as I only work at this site on Mondays and Wednesdays, I have already been integrated into the classroom by the teachers and have begun to feel less like an outsider and more like a member of a family. Moving forward, hope to learn from the teachers and likewise aim to provide them with support in the classroom. This experience has this far been an emursive one and I look forward to working alongside the teachers and students alike.