There are about 40 students in class 4... ridiculous. Their class teacher, who is allegedly not very competent, doesn’t have enough time to help them individually. The headmistress has decided to split the class in two starting next term (January after Christmas break). Monsieur Roland, the current class 4 teacher, will teach half of the students. The rest of the students will be taught by... me!
Starting in January, I’ll be teaching less French classes, instead taking over English, math, science, and citizenship education for class 4, and I’m pretty excited about it. Right now, I teach eight classes of 24 to 40 students in each class. I’m only with each class 1 to 3 hours or so each week. I don’t have the chance to get to know every student personally. I don’t even know many of them by name. With my own class of 20 students, I’ll be able to really know my students well.
What is Class 4 like? I probably know them the least well of any of class. They only have French once or twice a week, and since their class is so big it seems impossible for them to stay quiet. They can be overwhelming, so Monsieur Kofi usually teaches that class while I sit in the back correcting homework. As their class teacher, I’ll have tons of work to do planning out lessons and correcting homework. It will be really challenging, I’m sure, but I like challenges. Facing challenges is the only way to grow as a person. I just hope I’m ready for this challenge and capable of overcoming it!
When I walked into their classroom this morning, however, I realized how difficult this challenge could be. Lunch break had just started, and I was on my way to the house when some of the students grabbed my hands and pulled me into the classroom for help. Two of the class 4 girls were fighting. Fighting. Going after each other, punching, slapping, hitting, as the rest of their classmates watched and shouted. I yelled at them to stop fighting as I rushed forward, but they didn’t listen to me. I got in between them, taking a few blows to my arms, and pushed them apart, yelling for them to calm down.
“Seriously! What on earth?” I said when they had stopped fighting. “What on earth?”
One had insulted another girl in the class, so the friend called her a bastard, and the other hit her, so she poured water on her head, and then they were fighting... I don’t know. I told them I didn’t care why they were fighting, but I just wanted them to stop. Cool off, calm down, take a drink of water, walk outside, just please, stop fighting!
“Haven’t you been watching the news lately?” I asked. “Everyone wants peace in Ghana. We want world peace, ladies. Come on. It’s almost Christmas. Peace on earth, goodwill to men! And women!” I looked around, and noticed that the entire classroom had become silent as each student hung on to my every word. When two other fourth graders walked noisily into the classroom, their classmates quickly shushed them as I continued talking.
“Peace in Ghana. Peace on earth. World peace. Starting right here, in this classroom. World peace starts right here. If you want a peaceful country, and a peaceful world, you must start with yourself. World peace starts with you. When you fight with your classmate, you’re disturbing the world peace! You’re disturbing my peace, and the peace of everyone else in the world. Please don’t fight. Fighting is not at all becoming of young ladies like yourselves. Just go outside. Take a drink of water. Eat your lunch. Cool off.” I looked around at all the fourth grade faces staring at me with a look of wonder in their dark brown eyes. “I’m going now, but please, stop fighting... world peace, people! World peace! Peace on earth, goodwill to men and women.”
And as I walked to the door, the strangest thing happened. The kids started clapping. The whole classroom burst into applause. I suddenly felt like I had just delivered a speech on world peace to the UN or something. I didn’t really know how to react. Should I take a bow? I just smiled shyly, waved, and said, “Thank you.” They were still clapping when I had walked out of the door and down the hall.
Fred has always told me I should work for the UN. I don’t know about that, but maybe I can help spread world peace here in Africa, starting with the students in my fourth grade classroom. Maybe I can influence these kids for the better. Maybe I can make a difference.
They won’t know that their class is going to be divided until we tell them next week, after exams. I have a feeling that they’ll all want to be in my classroom. I hope they don’t fight over who will be in my classroom and disturb world peace!