Thursday, March 29, 2012

Much Overdue Sewing Class Report

As if you hadn't already noticed, I'm a total slacker. That is why I am just now - an entire month later - filling you in on the great things that took form during my Beginning Sewing Class teacher training with Margaret and Sarah.

In case you forgot, my last post on the topic was all about the first class and how awesome it went. From that early success I had great plans and ideas forming on how I would continue on with each lesson. Little did I know that absolutely none of these early plans would actually work out. But that's ok - I can improvise! (That's Margaret showing one of our 'students', Eva, how to hand sew a whip stitch - fyi -->)

The rest of the 8-hours a day, 2-days a week, 6-week long training went a little something like the following. The first 3 weeks I played teacher; Sarah and Margaret following along in their curriculum books as 'students'. This was actually a really good way of introducing them to the material they (once done with training) will be expected to know and be able to teach. It also allowed me to show them the best ways of presenting certain information or demonstrating new techniques.

It wasn't until the last 3 weeks of the lesson that I was truly able to see how much Margaret and Sarah had absorbed and actually listened to. This is because these were their sink or swim weeks - they had to teach by themselves, alternating lessons. And they had to teach it to students that I brought in. The idea behind this was not only to make sure that they would teach each lesson exactly as it is written in the curriculum (this in itself was a BIG concern), but also to make sure that when translated into whatever language would be used for class the content still made sense - and if not, we could work together to fix it. (There's no way they can deny having at least a little bit of fun during our training - I've got proof! -->)

These final weeks proved to be the most entertaining. My friend Alex agreed to help out translating each lesson for me as well as sit as a 'student' (Note Alex proudly modeling a sample skirt I had made for the class which he continued to wear in public while we got lunch) along with a FOM friend, Eva. I was overcome with 'momma bear' pride during the first solo lessons Margaret and Sarah taught. They really were listening!!!! I was beaming and couldn't have been more pleased. However, it wasn't always smooth sailing - particularly when it became apparent that one or both of them hadn't fully grasped some of the concepts we'd gone over in the weeks before. But all in all the training as a whole went very well (especially for my first solo training ever and not knowing what I was doing)!

Completing the training however did not secure a teaching job offer for either Sarah or Margaret. That depended on the completion of the required technique sewing samples as well as 4 sample projects we went over during class. This was the part that made me VERY nervous. It would be such a shame for these ladies to go through the whole training - and prove their abilities - but not be able to gain a certificate for the training or acquire further contracts with Fount of Mercy because they didn't complete their homework. Seriously, this seemingly minor detail had me on the edge of my seat routing for my students as they, pretty close to literally, raced against the clock to get their work done.

When 5pm Friday, February 24th -the deadline to turn in all samples- rolled around would I be filled with success or disappointment? Well let's just say I was the happiest fake teacher in all of Uganda walking home with bulging tote bags full of samples to grade.

Our training wrap-up and graduation ceremony was set for the following Tuesday, February 28th - the day I would officially acknowledge all of the hard work these two amazing women had put into the class the past 6 weeks as well as the day I would leave Uganda. Talk about bitter sweet. We presented certificates, talked about Sarah and Margaret's individual strengths and weaknesses and then had lunch. It was a great day and an even greater honor to say I was able to work with Nalongo Sarah and Achom Margaret, two of the most amazing, hard-working, determined women I have ever had the privilege to meet.