A day at Nyota Ing'arayo

By 5 years ago
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A day in the life of a volunteer teacher at Nyota Ing’arayo

“Madam, do you have malaria?”. Christine, one of my standard 6 students, is smiling mischievously.
“No,” I say, before coughing with perfectly bad timing.
“You sound sick,” Christine clarifies. “No, it’s a good thing! Your voice is less annoying now!”
It’s Tuesday morning at Nyota Ing’arayo and I’m beginning my first of many English lessons for the day. By 4pm I will have taught kids as young as 10 and adults well into their 30s. All of the grades I teach have their outliers in each direction, but standard 6, my youngest class, has the biggest range in reading levels. That makes morning English classes particularly tough sometimes. There’s little doubt that already today my class has been awake longer, walked farther, and eaten less than I have – but still my biggest responsibility is to challenge them, to tap their shoulders when they put their heads down, to make them try again when they get the answer wrong.

Nadia teaching her standard 6 students

 We start with a grammar and punctuation review. Speech marks they can identify, commas and apostrophes they can’t differentiate. I give them a few examples: Faith’s pen. Getty’s book. The students’ desks. “Who can change this from direct to indirect speech?” “Ok, now who can do it correctly?” “What’s another example of possessive apostrophe? That’s a comma. That’s also a comma. That, too, is a comma, Oscar.” Thirty-five minutes pass quickly here. Before I have time to realise we probably won’t make it to adverbs, Evans from standard 7 steps into the yard with the bell, clanging it loudly over his head to signify the end of class. The kids are still copying notes and explaining pas continuous tense to each other in Swahili as I pack up and move on to standard 8.

One-on-one reading time
A smaller class of older students, mostly 14 and 15, standard 8 tends to be the easiest of the day. Most of them have started ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and usually jump up to volunteer for some one-on-one reading. I step into the classroom and pull out my notebook and pen, ready to begin a new list of vocabulary words for the hand that gets raised highest today. “Morning guys,” I say. “Who’s ready to read first?”
“Madam,” says Gideon from the back of the classroom. “Do you have malaria?”

By volunteer Nadia Prupis