Location: South Coast, Mombasa, Kenya
Jambo, habari yako?
Hey everyone. Sorry I haven't posted a blog in a while. I have been writing but I have had to save my blogs on my computer until I find an internet cafe or wifi. I am in Mombasa now and have been for a week. I leave tomorrow to travel back to Nairobi before I fly back Sunday morning. I can't believe it is almost all over... Here is my last full week in school. I hope you enjoy, I certainly enjoyed myself. Take care, lots of love always, Johnathan. Kwarheri.
I can't believe I am this far into my trip already. In fact this week would be my last full week in school! I would have Monday-Thurseday next week in school but then it would be off to Mombasa for a week with Franky. We played with this idea for a little while but I was really unsure whether I wanted to leave the school or not. I decided that with having been to Kenya twice now I should try and see somewhere other than Nakuru. After speaking to Gladys as well she told me that see was planning on having her holiday then. Perfect! The class just wouldn't be the same without Gladys. So there it was me and Franky would explore the south of the country and have ourselves a little holiday before returning home.
For English today we moved onto question marks and exclamation marks. Kira took the lesson and wrote the rules for each on the board for the children to copy along with examples. Children then wrote down some sentences and had to decide if a question mark or exclamation mark was appropriate. Now, in the example we introduced speech marks too for people asking questions and shouting for example. Like with the colons and semi-colons Kira told the children not to worry about these for now. They must of however, because some of the children were having real problems with grasping question marks and exclamation marks. Gladys asked me if I could re-explain the 'rules'. I explained question marks again but the main issue was exclamation marks. We looked at using exclamation marks; in speech when shouting, after some sound words (onomatopoeias) e.g. BANG and after an important statement. As I was about to go through an example for using an exclamation mark within speech, I noticed Clinton (sitting on the front row, in front of me) was franticly copying down notes-I couldn't help myself-I had to...
A example for using an exclamation mark during speech would be: The teacher shouted, Wa wa wacha! (you, you, stop it!)
As a slammed my hand down on Clinton's desk he shot up, his face frozen with fear! It wasn't until I smiled as him that he began to ease. The children were in hysterics. I then wrote the sentence on the board and asked Clinton (of course) where the exclamation mark would go. Many hands rose up but thankfully Clinton got it right. At the end of the lesson Gladys suggested going over the lesson again to make sure they all have it. We agreed.
During break I wrote up all three basic number bonds for each times table between 2-12. The first times table is always that number e.g. 2X1=2, the tenth times table is always that number +0 e.g. 2X10=20, the fifth times table is always half of the tenth e.g. 2X5=10. From these three number bonds children can then work out the gaps fairly quickly from either counting up or down from either the first, middle or last. 2X6 would be 10+2=12 while 2X9 would be 20-2=18. Most of the class grasped this really well but for some it was hard to let go of old habits. Some more rounds of times table knock-outs should solve this.
After dinner I read Rapunzel. After reading over this book at the weekend I knew I waned to read it over the remaining books-what a great story. In the Lady Bird version (I'm unsure how it differs with others) the witch takes the first born child of a couple in return for her tempting salad, later she banishes Rapunzel from her tower to the desert when she finds out she has been seeing the prince. The prince is then thrown from the tower as he climbs to visit Rapunzel. The prince is blinded by thorns on the way down. After walking for years he eventually wonders into the desert and finds Rapunzel. Her tears of sadness for his blindness then restore his eyesight and they return to his kingdom to live happily ever after. I was really confident with reading stories to the class by now and wanted to put more expression into my reading. When Rapunzel's farther is caught stealing the witches salad I shouted,
How dare you steal my lovely salad! While pointing at child.
The children loved this, apart from the terrified child, which made it a lot easier to continue. I kept my antics to the witches part really apart from Rapuzel and the prince are hatching their escape plan, when I lowered down and whispered the lines. I love telling stores its great. More practice, more practice.
Today we repeated the English lesson on question marks and exclamation marks as planned. This went well and all the child appeared to have it, great! For numeracy we decided to have our last multiplication lesson. To consolidate all their knowledge we put a mass of times tables questions on the board and told the children to use their knowledge of number bonds to help them. Many were able to work through these questions really quickly and we give them more questions to do. Great stuff. With a class so big though it is tricky to keep an eye of copy cats. My suspicion is that this class could be littered with them. I did catch two sets of copy cats out though. The same ridiculous wrong answer for one? I was very dramatic about it though,
Hmmmm you have this very strange answer for question 5-it's completely wrong? But what is even stranger, is that your neighbour has exactly the same wrong answer. How very odd?
Their two sheepish looks at each other said it all.
You return to your seat, and you sit here next to me to do your corrections. A mass of children then covered their work up with their hands.
After dinner I wanted to play another round of Rounders while the game was still relatively fresh in their minds. We had more children this afternoon-10-a-side. We re-capped on the game for those who missed out on Friday. Unfortunately the game didn't flow as well as the previous game. Perhaps the higher numbers didn't work as well, teams taking longer to swap over and the newer players being very unfamiliar with the game. Don't get me wrong the children still had a fantastic time it is just, I had very high expectations and was hoping for an improvement in game play from the last game. It is all about the fun I suppose... O yes I forgot to mention I was prevented from picking the best team and numbers between one and 4 were chosen. I was team 2. We lost with a dismal 1 rounder, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
So, we could finally move onto division. It was now or never really as we had spent so long working on multiplication-well worth it though. I introduced the bus stop method again and reminded the children of how we could use our multiplication skills to find the answer. Today I stuck to simple division questions that were less than one hundred and had no remainders. So for example 66/6 uses the six times table (the dividing number). 66 is split into two numbers 6 and 6. 6 fits into 6 once (6x1=6) so the first part of the answer is 1 (the number of times you have multiplied). 6 then fits into 6 once again giving you 1. The answer is therefore 11. Towards the end I introduced numbers that didn't fit, which had to be carried over. For example 12/2. You split 12 into 1 and 2. You tackle 1 first. 2 doesn't fit into 1 (Not possible. As the kids would say). So your answer is 0 and the one is carried over to the 2, giving you 12. How many times does 2 fit into 12? 1X2=2, 2X2=4,2X3=6, 2X4=8, 2X5=10, 2X6=12, your answer is 6 or 06. The children's results were very mixed. This didn't surprise me at all. Of course you would have those who were still struggling with multiplication. Those who were struggling with the new concept in general and those few who just got it. I was enjoying this challenge though. To be continued tomorrow.
For English we ran through using brackets as a means of adding extra information to a sentence. The children really took to this well, perhaps it was a relief from division haha. I really think the children have enjoyed their English lessons. As soon as they have finished they run up to the front of the class and watch you mark their work with a scrutinizing eye. They read your comment back to you as well which is a rally nice touch. I know already children back home not reading your feedback never mind acting upon it is something teachers really have to watch out for-no problem with that here!
Kira read the Ugly Duckling to the children this afternoon. This is a lovely little story but there is no villain to detest really so I think if failed to capture the children's imagination the way the other tales have done. Never the less the children loved the story and there were cheers at the end when the Ugly Duckling 'transformed' into a beautiful swan and flew away.
More division today but with the added element of remainders. We are storming through this really, time is just, simply, running out. Clinton was off yesterday so I give him extra attention today to try and get him up to speed. He did struggle, unsurprisingly, during the lesson but he asked to do more work at break. I went and fetched a white board and pen, from the staff room/stock room, to wok with him on. We worked all through break-a full hour- and he really come on. Clinton's English is so good now I'm really pleased for him. He just replied Yes to most questions last year. What's more, during this time I asked Kira to try and take some subtle photos of us and they are now some of my favourite pics I have.
It was now coming to the end of our last full week. Monday through to Wednesday would be 'fun days.' Now I had been hoping to take my class swimming but ideally I didn't want to do just them this time. Last year when I took just my class swimming I felt really guilty about the rest of the kids but that is all I could absolutely afford. This year however there are more volunteers at the school-time to recruit some financial help. Everyone seemed really keen. Operation 'Mission Impossible', take 135 non-swimmers swimming had now commenced! Today I asked if Fred, the cook, could take me on his motor bike to the hotel, Graceland Hotel, we went to last year to cost it. Last year I paid 150KSH per child which allowed the children to use the swimming pool (big and baby), the adventure playground and lunch of a plate of chips and a soda (not exactly a 'healthy school meal' but definitely a welcome treat for the children). After costing the hotel all that would be left to organise would be transport, staffing and swimming costumes.
Me and Fred were set to go, there was room on Fred's bike for one more so Franky come to help with brokering a good deal. As the three of us got ready outside the school a matatu (public mini bus) drove past full of school children. As I looked at the bus as it drove by I noticed a child hanging out of the back window. He looked familiar? He pointed at me,
John, John! He screamed with excitement.
As soon has I saw his cheeky grin I realised straight away who it was.
James, James! I screamed back with equal excitement as I pointed back at him frantically.
If you remember from a previous blog, when my class, from last year first come back to The Walk from their new school, James was missing. Gladys told me that he was attending a local boarding school, most likely because of his parents inpatients regarding his behaviour. Boarding school must be out and James was coming home. James and Clinton were my absolute favourite kids last year. They were quite a dynamic duo, quite an odd pairing really but it worked. Clinton, the polite hard working young gentleman matched with the happy-go-lucky James who would do work when playing class clown was over. It was these qualities in James that I absolutely adored haha. If I child has character and personality, which James oozes, then they could be a devil child for all I care, I'd still love them.
When we arrived at the hotel I was disappointed to find a different Manager. Would the same deal, never mind a further discount due to higher numbers, be possible? The manager seemed nice but she was busting my balls when it came to cost. Total poker face. Initially she wanted 150KSH per child just for swimming. Chips would be 100KSH and a soda would be a further 50KSH each. A total of 300KSH per child leaving us a grand total of 40500KSH (£350) just for the hotel. Not affordable at all. Seen as the cost was split two ways between swimming and food I tackled swimming first. I explained how much I paid per child last year and that with the numbers being much greater I was hoping for an additional discount. Thankfully she agreed to offer us the 100KSH for the swimming. Now the food to tackle. Sodas would remain at 50KSH each-non-negotiable. Food then? Te manager suggested as a means of cutting cost, to share a plate of chips between two children. As soon as she said this I realised that this is what we arranged last year. A full plate of chips was plenty for two children. What's more, is that the children wouldn't have to share one plate together, they would be put onto two smaller plates-brill. We now had the same deal as last year-half of what was originally put on the table. Total cost now 20259KSH (£175). Swimming was now officially a go go!!! Swimming costumes would be brought on Saturday at the market after I got the final register of children and found the old costumes from last year.
Now it was transport that had to be arranged. How to transport 135 children over three days to a hotel a good twenty minutes drive away? My initial thought was a mattatu. We used Alex's large mini bus type car lst year but he no longer had this. A mattatu seemed the next best thing in terms of size and cost. The only problem was, we would need two each way at a squash considering there would 45 children and several staff. The mattatus are built to carry twelve. However, in normal use with the public they cram many more in. There was definitely room for 20 odd children and a couple of adults in each one, a little squashed perhaps. Fred phoned a mattatu friend of his he knew. Time to broker another deal. Alex had told me that when mattatus are hired privately like this you usually just pay for the 12 seats on the bus regardless of how many people you crammed on. It was 20KSH per person for a mattatu. So that left us with a target of 480KSH return per car, 960KSH per day, 2880KSH (£24) for the three days transport, to try and broker. A discount would not be possible as I would be lucky to get close to this figure after they clapped eyes on me. Mzungu prices aren't fair at all when you're trying to organise stuff like this. The drivers showed up and the negotiations kicked off straight away. Fred spoke with them and told me they wanted 400KSH each way, 4800KSH (£40) for the three days.
No way! was my blunt response. Everything is up for negotiation in Kenya and cuts needed to be added here. The hotel was already costing a lot and we couldn't let thee extra costs rise. Taking the majority of the school and leaving a class out due to expense was not an opinion. I reasoned that 280 would cover the full mattatu and that it would be for twenty minutes each way leaving the rest of the day for business as usual. They dropped to 350KSH each way. I wasn't happy with this either. They argued that there was a large hill on the way to the hotel and this would use a lot of petrol. I told them, I had been up the hill and that it wasn't that steep (in fact our bike did nearly slide back down earlier haha). Any petrol used on the hill would be saved by costing back down I also explained. I asked for 300KSH each way and the three day contract was theirs. They asked for 350KSH there and 300KSH on the way back. 3900KSH (£32.50) total. Deal! I would of liked 300KSH each way but approx £10 per day for two mini buses return was definitely affordable.
Staffing now. We would take us seven volunteers each day and two members of staff for the older children and three members of staff for the younger children. We would take the class teachers on their classes days along with Fred when needed. Staff food would have to be covered also but this would be a minor cost in the great scheme of things. All that was left to organise now was the costumes that would be brought on Saturday. This cost could go either way but we were very flexible with what we needed to buy. The great thing about Graceland Hotel is that the adventure playground allows you to split the children into groups. Half can swim while the others play in the park. Swap over and everybody is happy. Therefore you can share costumes between the classes, splitting the potential cost. Smaller numbers in the swimming pool is ideal away for safety so this worked out very well. We just had to sort out what everybody could afford to contribute now.
It was dinner time now and I needed to make sure I took photographs of the girls wearing all the school uniforms I had brought over with me from Great Places Housing Group, Manchester. Gladys grouped all the kids in the office and got them dressed. The uniforms are being stored for the new arrivals coming in September but I needed to take photographs of some children wearing them so that the parents who donated them from a local school (organised by Carolyn, Great Places) could see where they have gone. The photographs look great, the children were beaming in the uniforms. Carolyn I will e-mail you thee pictures as soon a I get back to England. I will also e-mail you pictures of the children swimming as the 3500KHS you gave me is going towards that. I hope you think this is a good idea. In reality all the money everyone is contributing is going into a big pot but if you would like to put label to the contribution it will cover the transport for the three days quite nicely. Thank you.
I had been lucking forward to this afternoon for a long time now. Fantastic Mr Fox. We had finished all our fairy tales now so it was time to move on to more advanced literature. I love Fantastic Mr Fox, it is definitely my favourite Roald Dahl story. I planned to read it over two days during the one hour afternoon session. I knew this would be tough especially with translations but there really wasn't any more time to finish because Monday through to Wednesday would be swimming ' fun days'. I was concerned however, that the children may not enjoy this story because they loved the fairy tales so much. Of course the stories themselves are vastly different but my main concern was over the illustrations. The Ladybird Tales series have very vivid colourful illustrations. Quintin Blakes illustrations are worlds apart. I hoped the children would also like these illustrations as much as children back home do. This could be a potential deal breaker however-showing the children the pictures during story time is a very important time for them.
If there are any little green men out there reading this who haven't read Fantastic Mr Fox, the story follows a very clever, indeed fantastic, fox who lives in his burrow, along with his wife and three small foxes, outside of three farms. The farms belong to three farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean-the three greediest, meanest men you will ever find. The story revolves around the three farmers trying to catch the crafty fox before he steals and eats all their chickens, geese and ducks. What happens along the way is...fantastic.
I started to read, straight away the children were hooked. They absolutely loved the descriptions of the three farmers, their names made them chuckle relentlessly. As I read the scene where the farmers wait outside the fox hole and then blast off Mr Fox's tail I shouted,
BANG, BANG, BANG.
The kids shot up and giggled their little heads off haha. When it came to the farmers trying to dig the foxes out and the shovel comes through the fox holes roof, the children were on the edge of their seats. I left the story at the point where the farmers had drove two trackers in to try and find the foxes. The children couldn't wait for the story to be continued. A huge success. To be continued...
Our last 'school' day. It would have been a shame to leave division where it was because we had worked so hard in the lead up. A full morning, double session, of division then. Me and Kira recruited Franky from his class to come and help in ours. We therefore had 4 teachers in our class so I grabbed the whiteboards, board rubbers and pens and split the class up into four groups of ten. The groups were a little larger than I would of liked but we have such a big class. I went through several examples on the blackboard, ranging from diving under 100 with no remainders to thousands with remainders. There was a lot of class interaction, children working on the main board, putting their hands up, shouting out etc so this part of the session went well. I then wrote a series of questions up on the board for the individual groups to work through using their whiteboards. I had a tough group. The children worked through the questions on their own and I worked with one different child for each question. They had a bash and afterwards I went through the question trying to break it down for them. When the teachers thought that some children had got it we sent them to their own table to work through more questions on their own. Making are groups smaller as much as possible was essential so we could help those who needed it more. I managed to send two of mine to the the 'got it' table. The rest needed a lot more help. Most were struggling with the multiplication element of it. Children back home have the same problem and it really prevents them from progressing further. I tried my best but most of my group and a lot from other groups still didn't have it fully by the end of the lesson. We tried our best...
Afternoon time and it was time to finish Fantastic Mr Fox, hopefully. I hadn't quite got half way through the story yesterday, a third perhaps. Finishing today would be tough. Hagai (Alex's handy man who helps in the kitchen amongst other things) translated yesterday as Gladys had a sore throat. Today he wasn't around. Chef Fred came to the rescue. However, Fred really struggled to get his head round the story and picking it up, with the 'odd' language, half way through just completely threw him. He just said to the children,
I don't understand this.
The children burst out laughing straight away. Patrick, the high school boy who we became friendly with offered to help. He was much better but he still struggled with parts. Then all of a sudden Hagai appeared. Thank the lord. I started clapping and the children followed suit.
I picked up the story, full flow now. Mr Fox, the children along with Badger were now half way through pillaging all three farms from underground. A feast for all the diggers was to be prepared. Meanwhile Boggis, Bunce and Bean were still trying frantically to dig the foxes out with there mechanical diggers. It wasn't long before the our had passed. I would have to finish some point next week. Maybe the last day on Thursday. Having such a long break before picking the story up didn't seem ideal but finishing the story on my last day did. To be continued...
New photos added to excisting photo albums:
-The Walk Children @ Play:
-The Walk School:
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Response: Hey mate. Having an amazing time here. i am on the south coast at the moment. I finished school and come down here, to Mombasa, for my last week. Work hard, play hard init haha. As for pick up mate don't worry. Sian and her mum said they would like to ick me up. So cheers but don't worry. Pint in the Nevy when I get back? Think are Mike, Chris and Sian will be there. Take care mate, miss you X
Response: Hi love. Having a totally amazing time in Mombasa, the south coast s loveeely. Takin pics so you can see. Hope all the family are well, Elaine, Roger, Nat and Liam. We hae moved all round Mombasa, town, west coast and now south coast whch is best! Love it here. Miss you lots though. Looking forward to seeeing you very son XXX
Response: Sandra!!! Absolutely fantastic to hear from you. Life is very good is Kenya. The school was amazing. After my four weeks there I travelled down to the south coast- Mombasa for a little one week beach holiday with a friend I met at the school. Having a geat time after working so very very hard haha. Kids were amazing and they thought the white boards were amazing-magic boards tey called them!!! Lots of love always, see you soon, Johnathan X
Response: haha I was waiting for that comment. I tell you what I will sent 40 students over to make things even between us haha. In the end the highest we have had in is 43. The numbers fluctuate a little because it is technically the school holidays. On average we have 35-40 but there is one teacher and us two volunteers so it is OK number wise. I have had a great time teaching-love it. My Swahili has come on as well but when I tell the kids off in Swahili they don't really take me serious-no change there haha.
Response: Got your messages mum but Michael has told me he will text Sian to ask her what info you need and that she will tell him. So who hasn't done what they said they would. I can't stress how important this is so please phone Sian and tell her what you need. Please do it asap. There is nothing I can do out here. Thanks for sorting it. Hope to speak to you very soon XXX
Response: Thanks for the kind message Elaine. It is always a bit nervous writing a blog in case people just find it utterly boring. The kind messages off everyone really make it worth it though. Having a ball here and really, really getting into the teaching now. It is nice to put everything I have learnt so far into practice now day in day out. I walk into class now and greet the children in Swahili, Habari asibui wanafunzi (goodmorning children). I actually speak quite a bit of Swahili during the day now so I am really pleased. Just having a fantastic time! Lots of love, Johnathan.
Response: Bad feet ah? This island happen to be a beach by any chance, hmmmmm??? lol. Seriously though if you really do have bad feet I hope you both get better soon. Still lots more peddling to do! You both are doing amazingly well can't believe you are in Mozambique already! Glad you enjoy the blogs. About to read your blog now lol. Keep in touch and STAY SAFE! X
Response: Everything is going great here, having an amazing time. Time is running away with me though and I'm worried I wont have time to do all the lessons I want to. My classroom Swahili is really coming on now too-the kids think it's hilarious!
Response: hahaha Hope your having a great time in Morocco. Cheers for keeping in touch. Speak soon.
Response: Thanks, good to hear from you. Hope you like my next blog-Referendum Day. I'm trying hard to get up to speed but I'm very busy, you know how it is!
Response: Thanks for the kind message Karen, put a smile on my face :-) Glad you lke the blog. Looking forward to a catch up in September. Lots of love, Johnathan X
Response: Asante kwa kusoma. Having a fantastic time and Gladys is in high spirits. We had a good old laugh today during a conversation about my living arrangements. I would be a very odd person in Kenyan society haha.
Response: Cheers Nat, great to hear from you. I will try and post pics of the school soon-trying to get the classrooms free of children is tough! Keep in touch X
Response: Cheers Kate and Garry. I'm glad I am still keeping you amused even though I am in Kenya haha. The school have been amazed with the donations-parachute games today!!! Glad you like the blog, keep reading X
Response: Hi mum, having a great time. I did text your mobile the day after I arrived? Finding a wifi place for my laptop has been hard but it is sorted now. It is a public holiday today in Kenya today because there is a vote on the constitution today. New volunteers arrived yesterday so we are all enjoying are day off in a hotel next to the pool-Kenya is hard work! School has been fantastic, loads of news so check out my new post. Whoever has set Skype up, ask to look me up and 'add me'. I tried to call the house phone before but it rang out! Lots of love Johnathan X
Response: Sorry mate I am well behind on my blog but I have found a good place to use my laptop now. Check my new blog out mate. Speak to you soon-keep in touch, J.
Response: WOW a message already and I haven't even left yet! Cheers for the support mate. Take care!