Monday, March 18, 2019
This was the first official day of my field experience. It was about to get real! On my first day visiting schools in Tangier, Wyatt Pedigo, the Irex program officer, tagged along, and Rachid gave us the grand tour.
It started off a little awkward, as the administrators at the regional delegation were not able to meet with us due to the teacher strike. However, it was a completely different story when we arrived at Rachid’s school CPGE Lycée Moulay Hassan. (CPGE schools are part of the French-style secondary school system, and the initials stand for classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles.)
The staff and administration at Moulay Hassan had prepared an extravagant welcome, complete with a cookies, tea, and an insanely huge banner. I got the grand tour and lots of warm greetings from everyone I met. Rachid had afternoon classes, so he had us scheduled to tour other facilities before returning to observe his class and give presentations.
One stop was at the Ibn Al Abbar school, a junior high. We visited the classroom of Yassine Harrak. This was so awesome! Junior high kids… Well, if you teach junior high on purpose, and I do, then you are completely energized in their presence. This classroom was bright, cheerful, and dynamic. Yassine’s students were so excited about learning English and about showing their American visitors what they could do. We even got a full-class musical performance of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect!” Using art to teach content? I was loving it!
After lunch at the beautiful Tangier marina, we went back to Rachid’s classroom for the afternoon. I got to observe Rachid in action, teaching about cultural intelligence in his English class. Then he invited me to present to the class, and I did. I introduced myself with a slideshow and integrated a message about 21st Century Skills.
My guiding question for my work in Morocco involves so-called soft skills or 21st Century Skills. How do educators in Morocco support skills in areas like communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation? I know we struggle in the United States to teach these skills. How do Moroccans do it?
I ended up learning a lot from Rachid and his students. They understand the importance of skills such as creativity and collaboration. What I observed, however, is that, like most concepts in Morocco, it is taught through lecture and observation. Hands-on, interactive learning seems rare. Just like at home, you might say.
Before calling it a day, Rachid and I visited some ancient Roman tombs and then stopped at the iconic Cafe Hafa, on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. What a day…