In which our intrepid hero plays with old-fashioned counting

Holy Aunt Jemima, have I been busy. Since the last missive, I’ve been grading midterms, upgrading lab software, planning a computer club and an elective ICT course, creating a student ICT position, writing lesson plans, and trying to be creative in my water conservation techniques. Let’s start at the top and work our way down, shall we?

ITEM THE FIRST — Grading tests is a chore not unlike shoveling snow — it’s always harder than you think it is, it takes longer than you expect, and it has the ability to sap the life out of you if you don’t do it properly. Having never had to give or grade a test before, I am experiencing this magnificent joy for the first time. 36 down, 93 to go. Ick.

ITEM THE SECOND — I managed to deploy version 0.2 of my computer lab software “build” this weekend. Nothing radical in way of changes; just some upgrades, some bug fixes, and a program for practicing mouse clicks called xball. I did manage to get computer #5 up and running, so that’s a bit of a victory for me. Still in the staff common room, though. One battle at a time, right?

ITEM THE THIRD — The end of my first term as a Ghanaian teacher is fast approaching, which means I have to plan for the second term just as quickly. I get a nice, cushy 3 week break between terms, which is nice. Next term, ICT for forms 2 and 3 is an elective course, which will reduces my numbers significantly (it’s looking like between 20 and 30 in each form), and will make life a little simpler in terms of planning. I’m also planning to create an extra-curricular club for doing “fun” computing projects, like playing games, running an internet cafe, etc. I’m putting a grade restriction on both: anyone interested must be in good academic standing in order to qualify. That gives the students something to work for, and keeps me from rewarding under-achievement.

ITEM THE FOURTH — I have too much work on my hands in running a computer lab. I also want my students to take responsibility for something as well as showing them how to take pride in their work. Therefore, I’ve proposed and gotten approval to appoint lab prefects. Basically, these are students who will help me to run the computer lab. They will help their fellow students by answering questions, doing hardware installs, software upgrades, and basic troubleshooting. My goal is to get to a point where if I’m not available to open/run the lab, they are. And, come next year, they will be able to train their replacements in how the whole system works. Beautiful, eh?

ITEM THE PENULTIMATE — After studying the curriculum, my lesson plans to date, the lunar cycles, consulting the I Ching, and a good deal of weeping (as well as gnashing of teeth), I have finished all but one of my lesson plans for the remainder of the term. Next task is to start writing my final exams for this term. Egad.

ITEM THE ULTIMATE — There’s a joke amongst us hippie types that goes: A pessimist sees the glass as half-empty, the optimist sees the glass as half-full, and the Peace Corps Volunteer sees the glass and says “Hey! I could take a bath with that!” We’re well into the dry season now, and while it doesn’t mean the wells have run dry and there’s no moisture to be found, it *does* mean that the rainfall has slowed to very occasionally (it hasn’t rained more than a trace amount this month). Thus, I am now hauling both my drinking water and my wash/bathwater by bicycle. As I am naturally lazy, I try to minimize my consumption as much as possible; thus, I am now cooking in a way that minimizes the dirty dishes, shaving and washing my face with half as much water as I used to, and bathing with about 1.5 gallons of water instead of my extravagant 2.5-gallon baths of the pat. Same amount of clean, less amount of carry. Everyone wins, except for the boy who enjoyed pouring the last .5 gallons over his head at the end.

Alright, that’s it. I’m going to the KSO for Thanksgiving next weekend. You can expect a full report after I wake up from the turkey coma.

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