Having done a teaching practicum in China, being a teacher in Canada, and now having volunteered in a Standard 3 classroom here in Kenya, one thing is clear: teaching abroad is a worthwhile opportunity for professional development.
The obvious aspect of professional development that comes with teaching overseas is adapting to your new environment. No electricity, limited resources, and bright eager students. At times I wondered how easy it would be if I had a document reader or an interactive whiteboard, but instead you have a few textbooks, a blackboard, chalk (sometimes), and an always disappearing eraser which is actually a small plush kitten. You realize quickly that without technology or even an adequate number of textbooks you can still be an effective teacher and find ways to reach your students in the best way you can.
What wasn’t so obvious and what I hadn’t thought about prior to arriving in Mombasa, was how much my own education background and teaching experience would be of use here. I only received my teaching certificate six months ago but here I am teaching others how to be teachers. It has been a very rewarding experiences having two volunteers join me in my classroom for two weeks. I was able to model and explain how to lesson plan, create resources, and how to teach effectively. I found great joy in being a teacher mentor to volunteers and being able to watch them grow and transform from nervous beginnings to confident and competent ends.
As a teacher, your skills and knowledge in Education are invaluable to the project here in Mombasa. This project has a dynamism to it that is constantly changing and progressing according to the wills and wishes of the volunteers and staff who join these projects. It really is amazing to know that the suggestions and proposals you’ve made yesterday are already being considered or implemented the next day. Your contribution really does make an impact on the development of these schools and programs.
My time here in Kenya has enriched my life and my career. Teaching here was the best way I could have spent my summer and I want to encourage all teachers – no matter the length of experience, position, or subject expertise – to consider teaching abroad in a project like this. Whether you be a new teacher or a veteran, this experience will revitalize and inspire you to continue teaching and to make all the difference.