Ms. Ayumi ONO
Koror Elementary School
Belau loba klisiich er a kelulul— A day of the Koror Elementary School (KES) starts with happy voices of students singing the national anthem. I work at KES as a JOCV (Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer, organized by JICA). KES has about 700 students out of 2,100 of all elementary students in Palau. One-third of all elementary school students in Palau give me full of smiles every morning.
I am a “Sensei (teacher)”of math and work together to make better lessons with counterpart teachers in 1st and 2nd grade at KES. Before a lesson, we talk about the main topics of the lesson and make a lesson plan. Since 2011, Singapore’s Math textbook has been introduced in all public elementary school in Palau. This textbook focuses on the step called “C-P-A”. “C” stands for concrete, “P” stands for pictorial and “A” stands for abstract. We use teaching materials as a concrete step, draw figures as a pictorial step and use number sentences as an abstract step. If the CPA step properly functioned in a class, understanding by the students would be much smoother and clearer. . We do some hands-on activities during lessons; for example we use blocks, playing with money and so on. This is the concrete step. It is good for students to understand the contents. A teacher draws picture on the white board, and lastly, connect it to a number sentence.
Every public school has many new teaching materials like blocks, geometric solids, scales, tape measures, measuring cup and so on (In fact, a class in Palau has more materials than that in Japan!!). These materials are kindly provided by Ministry of Education. These would be a great help for teachers to promote the understanding of the students. From my previous experiences as a “Sensei” in Japan, I sometime suggest ways of using materials and even demonstrate how to use them in lesson.
There are many enthusiastic teachers who devote their time to preparation in KES. Because of the historical fact that several JICA volunteers had been assigned to KES before and contributed in many ways before I joined, my colleagues know how to make a good lesson for students. A typical example is “Make 10 song”, made by a former volunteer. My colleagues have been still teaching “make 10” by using this song up to now. I have often encountered with these kinds of situation. It makes me proud to be JICA volunteer and determined to be a help for making better lessons. Since I would like to show KES’s lesson for another school’s teachers to make better lessons and share ideas of teaching, we organized “Mini Open Class,” an Open Class for teachers. We were able to hold Mini Open Class through MOE and other JICA volunteer’s help. Participants said Mini Open Class was eye-opening and good for teachers. I hope to continue holding Mini Open Class.
On weekends, I learn to carve Itabori (story board). It takes a long time to make it. I really like to carve and sometimes forget about time. I also like listening to Palauan folk stories from Sensei Blues (My Itabori teacher). Making Itabori is so interesting to me.
Recently, I have started to learn how to weave a basket. At first, Nina-san gave me materials made from Pandanus leaves. It is difficult to get the materials from Kayangel because of typhoons in 2012 and 2013. I have tried to make materials from Pandanus leaves. I collected leaves, took out thorns, boiled and dried them. But it was not easy to make. By chance, I was able to go to Kayangel, and then I met the person who had materials for weaving. I was so lucky to meet her and she was kind, so I was able to get materials. In addition, I was able to get wood materials to put inside when I weave the basket because of an act of kindness by a nice person.
My host family, teachers and staff of KES, students with full of energy, Math specialist of Ministry of Education, Mr. Blues, staff of Senior Citizen’s Center, people that I met in Kayangel, the person who fixed wood for weaving basket, and many more I do not have enough space here to write about have made me so happy and have given me precious experiences. My contract is going to finish soon, so I would like to enjoy my stay in Palau as much as I can. [/restrict]