Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My first day at Sam Pudlat School (sorry, no pictures yet!)

This morning I got up fairly early, bundled up and headed over to Sam Pudlat Elementary, which is only a "hop skip and a jump" from the house. We arrived around 7:30, before anyone else was there and David showed me around the school. Emma (my cooperating teacher) arrived just as we were finishing our tour to show me where the "good coffee" was (Thank you, Emma!;*)) and take me around to meet the staff. Everyone welcomed me with smiles everwhere I went. I hope I can remember half of their names!

Emma is a wonderful, bubbly, welcoming face, and as the children arrived for breakfast, you could see how much they love her. There are sixteen in the class, although Emma says they don't all come to school at once, so we'll rarely have that many (if at all). All the children knew I was coming and made a point of welcoming me with little secret smiles, saying "I know who _you_ are!" and on the morning announcements, they welcomed me officially to the school ("all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia!"). The school is extremely well-equipped, and Emma's students laughingly showed me how to use the smart board (tricking me every once in a while and erasing my writing when I wasn't looking). As the day began, the students were working on spelling in turns with smaller groups, so the children who had finished their spelling helped me read a book in Inuktitut. I think they really enjoyed teaching the teacher!

After spelling, the students wrote in their journals. Emma allowed them to choose whatever topic they wanted, which was a first for them. There are so many little differences from the classes I've seen in the South, that it's hard to put my finger on them all. Firstly, the students had a very hard time coming up with their own ideas for the journal entry. I tried to encourage them, but they really seemed at a loss without more guidance. Slowly I was able to get them to loosen up and tell me some stories from their lives, and we worked on how to write them. The writing level was definitely more simplistic than I was expecting, but the children were much more precise than I expected too. If they needed to spell a word and weren't sure how, they looked it up in a dictionary, or asked for help. They were very meticulous with their writing and corrected everything very carefully.

After writing, they brought out traditional drums and took turns drum-dancing while the rest sat in a circle and sang songs like the alphabet song in Inuktitut, or another traditional song that they said they didn't know what it was about when I asked. one girl (Nubeya) got the whole class laughing by imitating the traditional dancers with great huge, exagerated movements.

To end out the morning (it was only a half day today), the children had technology class. I was once again blown away by their concentration and precision. They were completely silent working away at their computers, and seemed to be very competent. Emma and I said goodbye to them at lunch and after an afternoon planning session with the staff, she took me "downtown" to the Coop and the Northern (the two stores in town). Everyone we met was introduced to me and I gave up trying to remember all the names! It was quite warm comparatively speaking- only about -18 and I actually got quite hot hiking around in all my winter gear despite the wind, which was biting.

After we had visited all the hot spots of Cape Dorset (which was a fairly short trip) Emma pointed me in the direction of home and I made my way back to Frances and David's house just in time for another wonderful supper of fresh Atlantic Char. One of the teachers at school had caught it the day before, and I have to tell you, it put the meal I had in Iqaluit to shame. So fresh and tasty!

We were thinking about going out to a sewing club tonight... Frances is making herself a parka and she thinks I might be able to make one too while I'm here. We decided, however, that we would wait until the next sewing night, since it is quite a long walk and we were both feeling a little tired. I don't know if I'll be able to make a parka or not, but I'm looking forward to going to the sewing club- it is a group of Inuit women who are helping Frances make hers in the traditional way, and I think it would be quite the experience to talk with them.

Phew. That's a lot for one day.

Emma and I have already started to plan our little musical/theatre production and I'm looking forward to introducing the idea to the students tomorrow, but maybe tomorrow I will be able to take some pictures, and since they'll be worth a thousand words, I won't have to write as much!

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