20 Things I’ve found in Kenyan Cassrooms but probably won’t in Canadian Ones

1. I’ve taught an entire PE lesson with a small baby in my arms. Did I have to? No, but I couldn’t leave her crying! 2. While prepping my lessons on the staff room floor, a little chick (I’ve ironically … Continue reading

Football: Community and Spirit

“Who’s brilliant idea was it to set up a football match at 2 pm, the hottest time of day?” Josh whines, prompting laughs and blame to be passed on to Dan and Pete for the sweaty, exhausting afternoon ahead of … Continue reading

Dear Student Teachers: Go Outside.

The bell has rung and after a flurry at the door you’re left with an almost empty classroom. There are a few scragglers (as always) still trying to fill in their planners or stack their chairs so you don’t waste any time; you look around the room and start compiling your mental to-do list that seems to grow and grow but never be ‘to-done.’ Even before you finish making that never-ending list, even the most distracted student finally needs you to sign their planner. You do so, reminding them not to forget their gym strip on Monday– and boom – like a flash they’re out the door.

My advice to you? Go outside.

Walk the playground. Join in on a basketball game. Play hop scotch or jump rope. Ruffle a few tops of heads and talk to the kids out there. They’re the reason you’re here and when you’re Continue reading

Beginning to Understand the ‘Terror’ in Terrorist Attacks

I was sitting in a cafe just outside the major mall of Mombasa. I trekked out early in the morning to make the time difference and Facetime my family and friends at home. I ended up staying for a lot longer than I anticipated as I got carried away with conversations and those I was having with myself in my writing. I sat beside a window and throughout the day I noticed some changes. The guards were doing more than thorough security checks than when I first walked through this morning. Trunks of cars were being opened and the underbelly of cars were being searched . The pat downs on pedestrians and the metal detector use was different. It wasn’t the usual wave of their detector – hear a beep – and say ‘Asante’ as you walk through. No, now they were really checking what was beeping and what you were carrying. The only thought Continue reading

An Orphanage is not a Tourist Destination nor am I in ‘Africa’

I took a week long camping safari with Intrepid Tours where I traveled from Nairobi through to the National Parks and sights. I was more than happy to see the Maasai Mara, the Great Rift Valley, Hells Gate – among … Continue reading

Promoting Education Through Community

Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Olives Church in Bombolulu is a busy, busy time. We have Madam Grace leading her Kiswahili Lessons, and we have volunteers teaching Maths, English, Computer Literacy, and Creative Arts to the adult members of the … Continue reading

Volunteering Abroad as Professional Development for Teachers

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.

In a grade one classroom in Xi'an, China where I taught in 2011

In a grade one classroom in Xi’an, China where I taught in 2011

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. Continue reading

Exploring the Complexities of Kenya/Canada Comparisons with ‘The Giving Tree’

My group reading session today had my girls looking at, ‘The Giving Tree‘ by Shel Silverstein. Before reading the book we did a pre-reading activity that asked the question: “If you could ask a tree to give you anything you wanted, … Continue reading

Why Kenya & Why GVI?

Just like most things that take a bit of courage, deciding to travel all happened in a blink of an eye. One day my good friend and I decided that enough was enough – we wanted to do some travelling. … Continue reading