Thursday, August 14, 2014

What Do You Do in Pre-Service Training?

We've been in pre-service training (PST) for almost six weeks now but what does that really mean? You might be wondering, what do you really do in pre-service training?? The answer is: A LOT.

PST is a lot of work, with trainings six days a week filled with language class, TEFL training, lesson planning, language application, practicum teaching, Peace Corps trainings about safety/security and medical, and spending time with our host family, sometimes learning as much from them as from our more structured trainings. Monday to Friday, we start at 8am and end at around 5:30pm. Saturdays, we start at 8am and go until about 12:30pm.

Right now, we just finished (today!) our four weeks of practicum, which is Peace Corps' way of saying we are practicing actually teaching. We are education volunteers and our job will be to directly teach 2-3 classes of high school English. That means we will be the only teacher in the room with 40-60 high school students, teaching from the state mandated English textbooks.

Now that practicum is over, we will be more focused on language training, safety/security, medical, and will have lectures devoted to specific aspects of teaching, such as teaching grammar, clubs and how to run them, how to assess students' levels, etc.

During practicum, our whole day was mostly comprised of planning to teach, actually teaching, and talking as a group about how teaching went. Our practicum schedule was like this:

8:00 – 10:00am: Language training in small groups. Right now, my class has five students and Spencer's class has just two, him and one other student.

10:30am – 12:30pm: Lesson planning as a group. We were using the Ethiopian textbooks and modified the lessons to be more student centered and active. We had to write detailed 4MAT lesson plans and write SMART objectives about what the students will be able to do after the lesson. We planned, made teaching aids, and got help from current Peace Corps education volunteers and other trainees.

12:30 – 1:45pm: Lunch and buna (coffee) with our host family. We were lucky before and our host family lived really close to both the school we planned our lessons at and the school where we taught. Last week we changed schools (to get experience teaching different grades) and for the last two weeks of practicum we took a packed lunch with us. Our host mom made it for us. She's awesome.

2:00 – 3:45pm: This time was broken into two class periods. We taught one and watched/evaluated another trainee during the other. It was a struggle for them to get students to fill all our classrooms because there are so many trainees, it's summer and so students are off visiting their grandparents or working summer jobs, and it's the rainy season. The most I had at our previous school was 8 students. For the past two weeks, I had about 17 students a day. It's not the 40-60 we'll experience in the future, but it's better than 8!

4:00 – 5:30pm: Debrief. This is the time to get feedback from those who watched/evaluated our class. We also discussed how things went in our classes as a group. We talked about what worked and didn't work, anything we were struggling with, and any other comments we had about students, the lesson, or anythings else. This usually didn't last until 5:30, which was nice! :)

Practicum was a lot of work and I not the only trainee to say, “I'm so happy it's over!” However, it was good experience to teach Ethiopian students and get to the know the textbooks we will be teaching at site. Also, it was nice to see what was working for other teachers and to share good activities and ways to teach different topics. Overall, I'm glad we did practicum.  


  1. LOVING this Maggie!! The color and textures in these photos are beautiful :)

  2. Modesto's loss is Ethiopia's gain. I love you and will telephone when you get home from work. Try to anyway.

  3. See the above post....that was me. Your Mom