Friday, August 14, 2009

Reflections on the Last Leg

The final leg of my African journey is coming to a close. Each and every location that we have worked in has been a very different experience.

Many of the teachers who came to Utumishi Academy in Gilgil were only expecting English/Math/Science workshops. In many cases, they had never touched a computer and were very excited to have the opportunity to do so. Sharon planned a simple week of basic workshops that incorporated a lot of time to explore. It set just the right tone. It was lots of fun to work with the teachers as they realized what they were able to do. I had an especially good chat with Moses, a Kenyan teacher who attended the workshops last year and came back to help facilitate this year. His eyes were wide as saucers as he considered the possible classroom applications of what he was learning.

It was in talking to the teachers this week that I rediscovered some of my own energy. They were giving up their holiday time to come for PD. They teach in incredibly challenging conditions. Many North American teachers I know would throw up their hands at the large class sizes and lack of materials (to say nothing of the myriad of other issues here) and say that they could not implement any new strategies. I have heard it before. “Oh, we don’t have the money to buy a new set of books to do that program,” (So adapt some of the ones you have!). “Oh, I have 28 students in my class, that strategy just isn’t manageable.” These teachers got excited about what they recognized as superior teaching strategies.

I think that this week was another set of high quality sessions. It was especially interesting to watch as the Kenyan facilitators began to take over parts of each session. I can really see the sustainability beginning to be built. It is like they say, a good teacher works him/herself out of a job. That is our goal too.

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