When Laura Orlando completed her teaching course at Kaimosi Training college six years ago, her dream to inspire Kenya’s next generation inched closer.
Ms. Orlando was even lucky to land a job opportunity at a local institution in her home area of Gichagi, Kangemi. This she says, filled her with great pride knowing that she now had the chance to impact young lives to achieve prosperity.
However, things were not going well. Her pupils who she was supposed to serve; were not grasping what she was teaching fast enough, they were also getting bored – and there was nothing as demoralizing as admitting that she wasn’t really doing a fine job as she had hoped.
“I did not feel like I was reaching them and I did not feel like I had the things I wanted to be good at my job. I was upset with the whole situation”, she says.
But in order to keep out hysteria from obstructing the problem at hand, Laura knew she had to cultivate a different lecturing technique if she was indeed serious about reaping tangible results from her students.
Her pupils are now producing stellar outcomes than ever before, she attributes this to the support and teacher-training sessions she routinely receives from her current employer; Bridge International academies, an institution that runs affordable schools in underserved areas through boosting government schools and running complementary schools of its own.
The organization is committed to improving the average teacher through regular teacher-training sessions which include best practices on lesson delivery.
Experts argue that this kind of approach by Bridge international academies could essentially revolutionize the entire teaching profession. Because, what teachers fail to learn in teacher-training colleges and universities, they are able to get from continuous on the job training.
“Things like the textbooks, the flashcards, lesson plans, the people who supervise me here at Bridge, they are my strong foundations. And because I am stronger, my pupils are stronger in their learning.” Laura says.
Too often, most learning institutions neglect their most important students: teachers themselves; But Bridge routinely offers training sessions to its teachers in its academies, fostering new learning techniques that set the pupils and the teachers up for success.
For Instance, Laura says that she has now adopted a ‘checking for learning’ technique, where she regularly walks around the classroom when she gives her pupils activities to do, engaging with them on what they think about the lesson.
This technique, encouraged at Bridge, makes it easier for her pupils, including the shy ones, to speak up in class and to find their own way of working and collaborating with their peers. She says this has built the confidence of her pupils, something that parents at the school have come to love.
Laura says that in her school, Bridge Academy, Gicagi; located in Nairobi’s Kangemi area, the Academy Manager routinely attends lessons and then offers feedback on how they as teachers can improve, while at the same time pointing out the little things that are working well for the children.
“It is almost like being in training all the time because I am always learning here,” Laura says.
In Kenya, for all their inbuilt advantages coupled up with pupil-centered techniques meant to benefit both the teachers and their pupils, schools run by Bridge are now the kind of reformed institutions that parents seek. And, the results speak for themselves.
“Over the past four years, I have seen our students’ record better grades in their KCPE exams, compared to their peers in other schools,” Laura says.
Today on October 5Th, as the world marks the UNESCO World Teachers’ Day, Kenyan schools can raise the caliber of their teaching by benchmarking this kind of approach of continually supporting teachers.