After writing twice about my experiences, I am a bit appalled with myself for having yet to mention the amazing teachers with whom I’ve been working. When I sat through a government education minister lecturing on how teachers needs to be done and watching the teachers prepare for the beginning of the year, I was worried that it would be very strict and very 1950s. The teachers had a syllabus and teaching guide that essentially dictates how every moment of every day needs to be spent. Watching the class one teacher go to work, things started out fine. After a stretch of learning, one young child began getting restless and distracted as any young child will do after enough lecturing. The teachers sternly told them to settle down. Within minutes, another child got shifty. Again she sternly settled the child in. I thought to myself, “here we go. The whole day should unravel from here.” Not so. The teacher very skillfully maneuvered the curriculum to stay on point but worked in ways for the children to move about, laugh and sing. Things settled back in nicely and focus was reengaged. Over the following weeks, I got to observe all teachers from classes one, two and three keep the pulse of their classes and move seamlessly through rote, antiquated teaching techniques to movement and play based learning and back again.
In chatting with my new colleagues, I’ve discovered the universality of underpaid teachers who nonetheless spend their own money on extra supplies for students who are lacking. I’ve also been impressed by the willingness to do extra work. Class 3 couldn’t afford the maths, English and Swahili homework exercise books, so the teachers diligently writes the homework assignment each day since she can’t just hand out books and say, ” do page 13″.
I also discovered the teachers have to provide their own tea and snacks during tea break. They’ve been supplying me but never mentioned it. Very sly, but I’ve caught them and will thank them by supplying for the rest of term.
It’s been a lovely experience learning from observing them and I noticed they’ve learned a thing or two from observing me. When they read, they now wander the classroom rather than staying at the front, unmoving.