Testimonial from Natasha Richardson
I came out to Kenya as a volunteer English teacher at the end of 2011 and signed up for 9 months. Three months in I was totally besotted with the school I was working at and was constantly thinking up new, interesting ways to teach my classes grammar and writing points. After 6 months I had decided to accept an offer as a GVI staff member and extended my trip until the end of 2012. As I staff member I was more involved in the complete running of the school than I was as a volunteer. I was able to see, over a period of time, the children who needed extra help and was able to put into place the one-to-one reading lessons which would help improve their understanding. I also acted as a 'Supply Teacher' in a sense by filling in for volunteers or Kenyan teachers who were absent, often teaching a range of different subjects across the curriculum. I have gained invaluable experience in classroom management, the corrugated iron classroom structures often carry a lot of noise, so this has been essential practise for me in how to make my voice resonant around the classroom and reach every student. The varied ages and abilities that are also found in each Standard was a massive learning curve for me, before I even knew what it meant I was 'differentiating' the work I was giving to my class – making sure that the students who were excelling were given more, often harder work, whilst the students who struggled with English were given an easier version. I have been back in the UK since January 2013 attending interviews for university. Thanks to the experience I have gained working with GVI, I have secured a place on a PGCE Primary Teaching course at my first choice university. Since starting placements in UK schools I can also see how closely the teaching practises that GVI advocate resemble the most recent practises in the West. One day I would love to return to Mombasa as a qualified teacher to pass on the knowledge I will have learnt.
- Natasha Richardson