On the Monday of our second week in Kenya we were allocated classes. Kieran and Anna were to teach standard 1 (which was now standards 1 & 2 together) and I was to teach standard 4. Although I wanted to be with either Anna or Kieran I was also happy to take on the challenge of working with older children. As it was the first official day back to school we all expected there to be teachers in the classrooms and that we would be assistants - this was not the case! There was a teacher in standard 1 but she was quite possibly the worst teacher ever! She paid no attention to the kids, the work they were doing or to Kieran and Anna, she was cruel when she spoke to the children sometimes and she slept in class for at least 80% of the time - which was obviously not a very good example to set to the boys (of which there were now 10) and as a result many of them also slept in class when they could. The only thing she was beneficial for was keeping order and disciplining the boys when need-be, as they were very lively and took any opportunity to mess around and fight! However, we had strong suspicions that she probably took the discipline a step to far and beat the boys when we were not around. In standard 4 there was an allocated teacher and although she was very nice I didn't even meet her until halfway through week three and even then she only came to my class about three times for about 10minutes! I was fine with this however because after id got through the first day or so when my class wound me up by telling me different names and stuff, I was really comfortable teaching in there and almost preferred being alone.
In my class I had 7 boys: Juma, Musa, John, Isa, David, Jarus and Daddy. Their ages ranged approximately from 13 to 16 but I can't be sure about any of them exactly because a lot of the boys do not know themselves how old they are or when their birthdays are. They were all very well behaved and respectful and worked hard most of the time. In Kieran and Anna's class there were the four boys from standard 1 plus Geofrey, Papa, Mtoi, Big Juma, Hamisi and Paul, again we cant be certain about all of their ages but they were all between 7 & 12. Our classrooms were directly opposite each other which meant that as well as bonding with our own classes we got to know each others pretty well too!
In terms of curriculum all I had to go by was a weekly timetable - which was more than Kieran had - basically I taught English, Maths and Science. There was nothing in the classroom to tell me what my kids had already learned or what level they were at, so I went to the school library which had a few old textbooks and found a couple that I might be able to use, I then took Musa's workbooks home (he was quite evidently the brightest kid in my class) and worked out what they had learned and what they needed to learn so that I wasn't stuck on what to teach for the next three weeks and so I could refresh my own memory on things like nimbus clouds and long division! Although the classes were split by ability in the first place some children learn quicker than others and so there was still a distinct variation of abilities within each class.
Teaching Kieran's class was even harder than mine, they taught English and Maths in the morning and then Science in the afternoon and the only textbooks they had to work with were very boring. Additionally, the variation of ability (along with the unhelpful teacher and the disruptive behaviour and fighting) in his class made it near impossible to teach a lesson. By the end of the second week Anna had decided that she wanted to try working with the older boys to see if she enjoyed it more.
Before she came to Kenya, Anna had raised a little bit of money for the boys and as our second Friday was the end of Ramadan which meant a public holiday, she very kindly decided to spend her money by taking the boys to the beach for the day. We got to the school a little later than usual and saw all the boys waiting in their own clothes in the eating area. Although it was evident that they were all excited, a lot of them seemed to be being really funny and not wanting to accept that they were going to the beach. We later realised that this was because they have so often been let down in the past and we saw first hand how important it is not to promise them anything! After about half an hour the three Matatus that we had booked (the Kenyan mode of public transport which are minibuses that can hold 15 but regularly carry up to about 20!) turned up and the boys - who were now v.happy - started to pile in!
When we first arrived at the beach the kids all just ran off into the water which had an extremely low tide and some of them went out really far towards the boats that were in the distance! This was very scary for us as they were our responsibility - 7 volunteers and 61 street boys! Kieran and I followed the boys and saw that they were pushing one of the sailing boats out to sea, but it was too far out for us to see if there was an adult with the boat or if they were just stealing it! After a while some of the other boys assured us that the owner of the boat was with them and that it was OK. We had a really lovely day with the boys, me and Kieran played in the water (mainly on-the-shoulder wrestling!) with Isa and Juma from my class and boy from standard 5 called Japan for a good few hours! The boys also spent a lot of time being acrobats - running, jumping and flipping off things! (this is something that a lot of the boys excel at!) At the end of the day everybody had chicken and chips and a fizzy drink (a real treat) which we had previously ordered and which came directly to the beach portioned up in little black, plastic bags, we all sat on the sand and the boys ate so much food! After the food Kieran and I went home as I had been quite sunburned during all the water play and the other volunteers and the teachers who had brought the food to us took the boys back to Kikambala.