Teaching Kenyan style

Today we spent time in the classroom. As the school is closing tomorrow, the school is starting to shut down. We were lucky enough to spend time in the classrooms with the teachers and children to get a feel of what goes on in a typical day.
We all spilt up and went to differnet classes. Maryanne went to Class 3 to begin with, when she walked in the teacher was not there, there was lots of English word on the black board, lots of CVC words and basic sentences. Since the teacher was not in the classroom, naturally, Maryanne got up and went through the words and sentences, the children all joined in and was able to say all the words and sentences back to me with confidence. Once she had finished with all the work on the board, Maryanne asked where is the teacher, one girl repiled, she is not here today! Maryanne then went to thr next door classroom and asked the teacher and she confirmed that the teacher was on a course today! Maryanne asked if they could join another class, which they did….the baby class! It was concerning that these children were left unattented and left to ‘entertain’ themselves. But this is how the culture is here, very layed back and have no worries. Maryanne then went into Class 1, they were doing their times table, it was taught the ‘old fashion’ way, on the black board and the teacher going through a few sums on the board with them and then they had to get their text books and do their sums in their exercise books. Maryanne was sitting at one of the tables of 5 boys, only 1 boy out of the 5 had a pencil, a very tiny pencil, i asked the other boys where their pencils were, and they replied thye dont have one, i then asked the teacher about the pencils and she replied they leave them at home, and went to the next door classroom and got some more pencils and shared them out. I thenspoke to the teacher about this and said would it help if we got pencils that stay at the school, with sharperners and rubbers, amd she replied with an enthusiastic YES. Maryanne thought that yes the children coming to the school is essential but if they do not have their pencil with them and have to wait until their friend has finished before they can start their work, how much learning is going in. We have made a decision that we are going to buy some small stationary boxes with  enough pencils,rubbers and sharpeners for each class, and then the children can use them During the day but must be given back to their teacher and the teacher must count that everything is back in the box. Hopefully this will resolve thr problem of sharing pencils and waiting.
Maryanne then went into Class 2, they were doing their division, i sat with a small group and helped some of them, the teacher then handed me a red pen and i had to mark them. The child that finished first and correctly had a song sing to him by his tescher and classmates, i loved this idea of praise, as we praise our children at Yellow Dot all the time and I was pleased that this was happening here too. Praise is so important, its a small gesture that goes such a long way and every child and adult feels more inspired when they are praised.
Maryanne thought the teachers were very engaged and knowledgeable., even though the classroom is very hot and very noisy as the classrooms are tinned and right next door to eachother, it didnt seem to bother the children or teachers. Maryanne feels that the children are getting a vdry good standard of teaching, and the most important thing is them being safe and not being on the streets!!
Carolyn spent the morning with middle class and teacher Janet. Janet asked Carolyn what she wanted her to teach and Carolyn said to just teach what she would teach on a normal day. To start there were 16 children in the class but 6 more joined from class 3. Janet asked all the children to stand and she said “good morning, how are you” to them and they all replied at once ” good morning, i am fine, how are you. The teacher started by doing take away sums with them. She wrote on the blackboard the date, middle class and Life Centre School. She started by singing 2 little dickie birds sitting on a wall with them. She repeated each line twice and they repeated after her. Next she started singing 10 little birds sitting in a tree and throwing a stone to knock one of the birds out of the tree. She wrote on the the board the number 10 and drew 10 sticks next to it and crossed one out and got the children to count how many sticks were left and she then continued the song crossing out the sticks. She also did some sums with pictures. She drew cups and crossed out some cups and got the children to count how many were left. Janet then got some of the children up to do sums for themselves on the board and the children all had to get up and clap when they got it right and chanted a little song. Janet then put 3 sums on the board and gave all the children a pencil and piece of paper and asked them to write the sums on their paler and work them out. She gave Carolyn a red pen to go round and mark the sums when they had finished. Carolyn also helped the children who were struggling with the sums. All the class had to wait until all the children had finished before they carried on. After the maths lesson the teacher did a language lessson. The language was learnt a lot through singing and chanting. They were learning English ‘a’ words. They started by saying ‘a’ sounds like ba, ta, sa, pa, ra etc. they then put these slunds into words. The teacher asked for ‘a’ words the children could see in a book and they shouted them out. The teacher drew the word on tne board and wrote the word underneath. She did this for about 7 different words. After this she noticed some of the children were betting tired so she asked them all to run to the toilet and back which was the other side of the playground. They all did this which woke them up a bit. She then left it up to class 3 to teach some words and they stood up the front chanting words to the younger children like the teachers do. Everything is chanted and repeated twice all the time. After this it was 12 o’clock and lunch time. The children had to stand and say a prayer before they could come out for lunch. They all said the same prayer together. Carolyn talked to the teacher about how they teach the children. Carolyn explained that she was not a teacher and Janet asked how old the children she had were. Carolyn said 2 year olds. Janet asked how Carolyn taught them and Carolyn explained that the children learn through play and Janet said she had heard this from college. The teaching was good and the children sat very nicely and quietly considering it was hot and the other classes could be heard above the teachers voice at times.
Steph spent the morning in Daycare and Baby class with teacher Lillian, this class has an age range of 2 1/2 year olds to 4 year olds. Lillian started the lesson by singing “today is my favourite day” the children then repeated this to teacher Lillian, we then sang about the weather, singing “what is in the sky” children replied with the answer “sun” they were all pointing to the sky as they sang, Lillian then asked what shape the sun was children replied “circle” and drew the circle shape in the air. Teacher Lillian then started with drawing a number 1 on the blackboard, the children repeated this number and repeated this up to the number 5, Lillian then said she had a new number to teach them and drew the number 6 onto the blackboard, Lillian then asked if they knew what number it was and one of the older children replied “number 6”. Lillian then asked the children to repeat what number it was and  showed them how to draw it in the air, all the children did this really well. Lillian then got each child their work book, called them up one by one and explained what she wanted each child to do, some were colouring the number 6 in, others were tracing the number 6 and the rest were asked to draw it. All the children did really well and teacher Lillian asked Steph to mark the children’s work, Steph did this by ticking the page and putting a smiley face on it. Teacher Lillian then moved onto sounds and started with the letter “a”, the children repeated this sound and drawing it in the air. Lillian then said a sound and asked who wanted to draw the sound “f”, a little girl called out and went up to the blackboard and drew the letter f, she then did the same with sounds g, e, s, I and h. Lillian then pulled down a sheet with all the letters on and got a stick to point to each sound, all the children could repeat each sound, there were also pictures drawn on the board and the older children were asked to match the sound to the picture, which they could do and they also encouraged the younger ones to look at the picture and sound. They then ended the lesson singing 12345 once I caught a fish alive. Steph asked Lillian what their learning outcomes were and she replied the 2 1/2 year olds were concentrating on their muscle development. We spoke about exams back in England and what ages we took exams, Lillian was surprised that we didn’t take our 1st exams til the age of 6 years old. Lillian then said that exams at the life centre school are taken in each class every term to assess their progress to enable them to move up to the next class. The youngest pupil taking exams is 2 1/2 years old and is achieving 86% in numbers and sounds. The class was then ended by Teacher Lillian saying thank you to Steph for visiting and that they were very thankful for having Steph attend their class.
On the way out of the school we bumped into the Massai warriors, we were lucky enough to have our picture taken and they did their traditional dance for us, this was a fun experience and one that we wont forget.
We then went to the Masaai market, where there were at least 20 stalls filled with African animals, materials and souvenirs to buy. We started at the top and were ushered to each stall and they all say no pressure into buying, but try to sell you their items, as you go round each stall your instinct is to pick things up and look at them, this is a big mistake as they then think you want to buy their items (maryanne told Steph not to touch anything, so Steph continued the walk round the market with her hands in her pockets). We slowly walked round and tried to buy something from every stall. There was lots of bargaining done and many different things purchased. We have had a fun filled day, tomorrow is our last full day so we are going to make the most of it.