I am a better teacher because I am supported

The reason I wanted to become a teacher in the first place was to inspire Kenya’s next generation. It fills me with great pride knowing that, as a teacher, I have the ability to have an impact on their lives and motivate them to achieve greatness.

I’ve been a teacher for six years now, five of which have been spent at Bridge Academy, Gicagi located in Kangemi area. I was still relatively new to the teaching profession upon joining the school, therefore I had the drive and motivation of a brand new teacher.

Before first starting out as a teacher, I attended a Kaimosi Teacher Training college where I learnt the basic teaching techniques required of a teacher. This included the lecturing technique where teachers provide a set of information to their pupils without fully engaging them. The issue with this old technique is that it didn’t allow me to see if my pupils understood the lesson. I was not a very strong teacher back then and I knew it because the children were bored. I did not feel like I was reaching them and I did not feel like I had the things I wanted to be good at my job. I was upset with the whole situation.

Even though I worked at a school prior to joining this one in Gicagi, the learning outcomes that I am seeing from pupils here is far greater than beforehand. I believe it is because of the support and teacher training I receive here. Things like the textbooks, the flash cards, lesson plans, the people who supervise me, and all the other things, they are my strong foundations. And because I am stronger, my pupils are stronger in their learning.

Through the teacher training sessions I attended before starting here in this school, I learnt new techniques that I had never heard of before.

For example, I learnt the ‘checking for learning’ technique. This overlaps quite heavily with the ‘question and answer’ technique, as the aim of both techniques is to keep tabs on pupils that may be struggling to keep up with the lesson content. I ‘check for learning’ through regularly walking around the classroom when I give my pupils activities to do, engaging with them on what they think about the lesson. This is a positive technique as it gives pupils the opportunity to speak up, particularly those that may feel too shy to speak to an entire classroom.

But what is most important is that I have so many people around me in this school who support me. I have the Academy Manager who can watch some of the lessons and then show me after how I can improve. We also have the support team from the office and they are good at giving me feedback on little things I do that work well for the children. It is almost like being in training all the time, because I am always learning here.

So, every week I am still exploring ways to teach, still changing and developing as a teacher. I never stay still. The parents have noticed it as well. They say to me that their children come home talking about school and learning things, and that has never happened before.

The results speak for themselves, I have seen our children, over the past four years, get better grades than most other children in the KCPE [Kenya Certificate of Primary Education] exams. In this school children are confident because they know they can do better here in the final exam. Children who were with me a few years ago, they took the exam, they did very well. That is why the parents like this school and they like my teaching. I think this is only possible with all the help we have as teachers.

There are so many people who help me with better teaching, almost every week they have given me the power to teach pupils faster. For them to learn more I engage them and now they are better and understand the lessons much deeper. My lessons are clear from start to finish – pupil-centred all the way, and that has made for higher academic results.

This is the story of Laura Orlando, a young Grade 1 teacher at Bridge Academy Gicagi, in Kangemi. She reflects on how her teaching has improved through training and support, and how that has helped children to flourish. Her story is one of many within the new #TeachersTransformLives campaign that marks UN World Teachers Day 2019.

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