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I have been making a lot of phone calls and having face to face meetings with teachers lately. Due to my background as a teacher and the nature of my current career that involves supporting teachers, you would be forgiven to assume that I know better about the current predicament teachers are facing. But you would be wrong. I don’t. There are some perspectives that I had not considered or experienced. Some of the stories I have heard are demotivating and I wonder how teachers have managed to hold on to teaching after such traumatizing experiences. This was from a phone call I had with a teacher recently. ‘’Limo, you don’t know what I am going through. My current school, admits students who scored between 250 marks and 100 marks out of 500 marks in their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams. The majority scored 200 marks consequently I have students in form one who do not know how to write their names. So, tell me, what do I do, teach physics or teach a form one student how to write their name? The school demands that I complete the syllabus on time and the Teacher Service Commission is appraising my contract according to my performance. what would you do in my shoes, Limo?’’ The answer would have been simple. You have been trained and are paid to teach. What else do you need? Being trained means you have all the knowledge and skills to deliver in the classroom and being on payroll means you have enough motivation to do your job well. But is this true? Definitely not. Teaching is not like loading stones into a lorry where the stones have a defined shape that can be arranged in a specific way. Before I am quick to conclude, walk with me as I paint the full picture. Let’s imagine I am a physics teacher of a mixed day school, limited on resources and with 60 students with the following demographics; 1 student does not know how to write their name, 5 cannot read or derive meaning from a single sentence, 40 are slow in comprehending concepts, 5 lucky ones don’t have problems comprehending what they are being taught and the rest, well I can only classify them as average students. I am conflicted about whether to feel guilty about classifying the students that way or feel sympathetic to the teacher. Last year of the 15 students who chose to study physics, 10 of them scored grade ‘E in the national examination. Currently only 3 form three students are studying Physics. Are you thinking what am thinking? Attitude. I write Particulate Nature of Matter as today’s topic on the chalkboard. As I write, I am wondering about the different students in the class; there are those still struggling to write their names, those barely present in class after realizing they cannot understand the topic and the minority few who are already dissecting the words. The pressure is already building up on how I should introduce it. Should I disregard the 11 students and focus on the majority, I will be forced to emphasize what the topic is about and that will likely consume half the class time. Consequently, I will not cover the syllabus on time. My option is to concentrate on the pace of best-performing students. It is a faster approach because I can introduce quickly and teach the concept quicker in line with my syllabus deadline. I look at the eyes of the rest 46 and all I can see is blank stares. The stares that reveal to me that some were not lucky to have anything in the morning, others did not have enough sleep and while others seem troubled. Others don’t like my sight at all. I am trying to be fair. I adopt several methodologies that can help me cater to these individual differences in line with 21st-century skills. I assess them by having a random oral question. It doesn’t work, I soon regret asking. I try rephrasing the question and making it easier. Nothing. So, I give the clues. No response. It is taking too much time and should I provide the answer? They murmur and then silence. I decide not to ask any more questions. I ask them to read a concept so that I can explain and relate it with a relevant example. To empower them and ensure engagement, I pick one student at random to read. One student is struggling to read a full sentence. At the end of it, I can’t make out a complete sentence from his reading from the many pauses between words! I remember the need to be fair and motivating. ‘’You can do it’’. I become weary thinking about syllabus coverage and how the performance in the final exams. My envy for other subject teachers like history heightens. History just needs you to read notes. My thoughts are scattered. I am a great teacher, right? It is just that am not in Starehe, Alliance, Moi Girls, Maranda, Kabarak. Those students are sharp. With just a little guidance, they are in with both feet. Those schools are fed by top cream from Makini, Riara, Victonell and such. The haves. Their mastery of language is amazing; their exposure is beyond even my imaginations. I snap back to reality and it reminds me that my students here will be sitting for the same exams. I am now more determined, more rejuvenated to continue with this mission. The mission of transforming the way education is delivered to make it more meaningful and enjoyable for both the teacher and the student. Providing teachers with insightful tools and approaches to deliver in class in such a way that it connects with individual students and bridges the gap between students. Tools and techniques that they can use to assess students frequently, to identify the learning disparities and help form knowledge in students. Providing support to teachers by helping them handle some of the stressful tasks such as marking, planning, teaching and learning activities so that they can concentrate on delivering. Listen to them and coach them on how they can be better and better in teaching. This is my call and this is my mission. Every teacher needs our support that they may be effective in molding our future generation. Every child deserves education quality education. Article by Jancan Limo Education consultant