My first week teaching at Kiambogo Primary School in Kenya was brutal. I was terrified that the road forward wasn’t going to get any easier. In the lower grades where I was teaching, I was the only one with a textbook. I was wondering how on earth to teach with such a shortage of textbooks.
In week two, things got better. Textbooks from the money provided by parents and the government arrived, and while it’s still not enough, it is enough to create some possible learning. The lack of other school materials has actually made teaching easier. In class one with about 5 fewer pencils than there are children, I’ve started a policy where anyone who has a pencil but is horsing around instead of working, loses their pencil to someone waiting. One student in particular has benefited. She found herself easily distracted by the student who shares a desk with her. After many angry moments towards me where she loses her pencil, she has come to realize that I am as consistent as I am persistent. Now, she sticks to her work with iron focus and has not only cranked out excellent work of her own, but also seems to have improved the focus of those around her.
The thing that makes the struggles easy to overcome is the spirit of community. At tea breaks, I see students with food sharing with those without. There is a love and caring they express for each other that is touching. I’m sometimes baffled on what I’m supposed to do in certain discipline situations. I’ve stepped into a few disagreements amongst children when one child clearly becomes overwhelmed. I’ll assist the overwhelmed child and cause upset in the offending child. The overwhelmed child then goes to comfort the children who was only moments before causing them hardship! I chuckle to myself and walk away.
I’m settling in nicely and am looking forward to bouncing around from class to class and getting to know all the children. I’ll keep you updated as I go along.