School's been back for three weeks now. I've met all my classes, and there's everything from sweetness and light to ear-splitting caterwauling in there. These are some photos of my school. Right at the top is the tropical almond (Terminalia Catappa, if you're interested) tree. Everything happens under that tree. That's where the kids line up to be taken to their next lesson, that's where they go when the fire alarm rings, and that's where the parent-teacher meetings begin before we shepherd everybody into the various rooms.

Just underneath is the playground. The school buildings are dotted around, no big blocks or long indoor corridors here. The building on the left with the red arch is the school library. The green signpost shows the fire assembly point, under the big tree.

Below is one of my lessons, to give you an idea of what my pupils look and dress like. Almost all the girls have headscarves and wear salouvas, big wraps made of wide tubes of cotton which they step into then tie at chest level. The boys tend to wear jeans and shorts most of the time. Like at the beginning of every school year here, I'm currently fighting to make them keep their shoes on, as they tend to slip off their flip-flops under the tables, and grotty flip-flops then end up all over the room whenever I want to get the kids up and moving about. I trip over them too. Plus, I want them to understand that they're in a public place, they're growing up to be (hopefully) responsible citizens, and you don't just take off your shoes all over the place whenever you feel like it. Therefore, whenever I see bare feet under a table, I pinch my nose and complain about the awful foot smell. They've got used to this, and now, I just have to pinch my nose for everybody to instantly look under the tables to find the smelly feet with no shoes on, and for the one found guilty to hurriedly put the shoes back on and giggle. As if flip-flops made any difference at all.

The last photo is the school entrance, on the other side of the tropical almond tree. This was at break-time, so most of the students are on their way out.


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On Thursday, half of a particularly annoying class (pictured above) decided to mew like cats. I asked if the little cats could please stop mewing, and the answer I received was: "The little cat is hungry. He will stop when he is fed."

So the next day, I brought in a box of cat food.

The class's main teacher has also offered to bring in some cat litter, with which to replace the chairs of the mewers.

Another class - not one of mine this time - has also started mewing. Their teacher took one of the mewers to one side, put him in a corner and made him mew for the whole hour, saying he would be put in detention if he dared to stop mewing.

They didn't warn me about this in teacher training school, somehow.