“So what were you doing out there?”
“Oh, we were looking at animal droppings.”
For the past three weeks at Shalom Primary school, student teachers from the National Teacher’s College in Nakuru have been doing their practice assignments. Fresh with ideas and optimism, the teachers have been putting their full effort into the classroom. In the classrooms are village dioramas, vocabulary posters in full colours, and simulated shops with goods, prices, and currency all inside the walls of Shalom. In class, these young teachers have performed well. The student teacher’s seemed to grab their student’s attention fully.
Stephen and I were speaking after he had finished up with class 7 Science. He is from Nyanza province in the west.
He had earlier taken Class 7 out of the classroom to illustrate interdependence between plants and animals in nature. Fortunately, you don’t have to go far on that kind of field trip in Shalom, nor do you have to go very far to find animal droppings.
Students can learn better when they take what they learned in class and see it up close, he said.
Stephen taught in a rural school part-time near his community near Lake Victoria, but he said Shalom was a different kind of teaching environment. Since there are such mixed of ethnicities in Shalom, the students already primarily use Kiswahili in class. When Stephen was teaching back home he could take “short cuts”, as he called them, by using their native tongue. Using the official languages in class so regularly is going to better prepare these students for higher learning, he predicted.
Lydia also comes from Nyanza Province in the west, but Shalom Primary was her very first teaching experience. And if so, I think she’s a natural. She had over sixty young kids quietly copying the sentence in their notebooks, while she explained in Swahilli what the sentence meant, word by word. She commanded that classroom with a smile.
It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the kids here, Lydia said. “The students keep asking me, ‘Teacher, are you coming back tomorrow?’’
Lydia would like to like to teach in Shalom again when she finishes up her studies. “It’s just so nice here, and the students are great.” When she heard she would be teaching in an IDP community she thought it was going to be difficult and harsh, but that’s not been the case. “Even through all these hardships, the people here are happy.”