Teaching is the hardest thing I've ever done. My first day of class was a disaster, but it probably could have gone worse. I'm not sure what I was expecting. but it was something along the lines of all the students being just like me, excited to learn about the possibilities that computers can offer with the dispositions and childlike innocence of kindergarteners. My first class was the second period, 9-10. I stepped into the classroom and the students filled in behind me—that is the first custom I discovered, students waiting to enter a classroom until the teacher arrives. I set my things at the little teacher podium in the corner next to the eroded blackboard and took out my chalk. I noticed that my arms had gone numb—this happens when I get nervous about public speaking. I ignored it and pre-broke a long new piece of chalk so I wouldn't have to suffer the embarrassment of it breaking in front of the class from nervous shaking hands.

I ignored my numb arms and continued on with writing on the board my name, Madame Kimberly. I stopped here, thinking my last name was entirely too difficult to try, but after I made the class repeats it they insisted I give them my last name and surprisingly they guessed at the pronunciation and weren't too far off so I added it to the board just under my first name. It didn't matter though because they resorted to the cultural hissing, snapping, and "Madame!" "Madame!" used to get one's attention. I can't say I like it, but I also can't say I haven't used it on the other volunteers. Works like a charm. 

The rest of the class I went through my perfectly planned lesson as the students asked my silly questions and laughed at my pronunciation of things. There was a constant murmur as I wrote notes on the board and as I began answering one question another student would interrupt with a new question. In Cameroon, the student take their note-taking very seriously. They do not take notes ask the teacher speaks, but only if the teacher instructs to take the notes. They are carefully organized and outlined on the far left quarter of the blackboard for each lesson. Throughout the class I was constantly reminding the students to write things down as I dictated them and repeated them slowly. During the whole class, almost every student had a smile on their face like they were on the verge of laughing at me. It was extremely uncomfortable and was the longest hour ever. After the bell sounded one girl asked if she could take my picture, and despite my "no" her and five other kids had taken their phones out to snap a photo of "la blanche". 

Today I was hoping it would be a little better because It was my weekly hours in the computer lab! All the classes I'd observed had been relatively quiet with kids focused on their individual tasks using Word or Excel. I sat in on (IT) Eric's class, the other Premières, and they were perfect—hardly asking any questions and diligently working. I sat with one girl in the back row who was having a hard time moving the mouse over the start button. I then showed her how the keyboard worked which really blew her mind, while the rest of the class typed the lyrics to their favorite song and made words bold, italic, giant and cursive. My class filed in after the bell rang and the hissing snapping madame-ing commenced and didn't stop for a whole hour. Students would call me over just to tell me they'd finished typing something. I impressed myself with my french today—only a couple mistakes that students corrected and less giggling than the first class, but I can tell they're testing me. High school is hard being a student, I never even thought about what the teachers go through. When most of the students left the computer lab the same girl from yesterday asked me if she could take another picture and then showed me that she had changed her background the the paparazzi picture she had taken of me the day before. It made me mad and flattered at the same time. They're testing me and teasing me and laughing at me and analyzing me from my birkenstocks to my blonde curly hair, but I think they like me. I do.