Around the Campfire: Reflections of a Metis Fellow
Updated: Oct 3, 2022
Words by Dennis Omolo, Founder The Teaching Pool and Cohort 4 Fellow
“I want Kenyan teachers and learners to have authentic relationships ,” says Omolo, pictured here with his students.
When I started The Teaching Pool, an organization to nurture the next generation of Kenyan teachers, I felt alone. Almost everyone I talked to said it was too ambitious a project or did not understand why we need to create a learning community tailored for new teachers. It took me more than half a year to put together a team that believed in the mission. The Metis Fellowship retreat was a chance for each of the 17 fellows to know that they are not alone and that together, each of our contributions adds to the overall goal of making the world a better place.
It was great to see how unique each of our innovations are and to also be aware of how they converge. We listened to amazing innovations in tech and were awed by how technology can be a bridge to making learning more effective. We also learnt of fellows innovating in terms of resilience and life skills. Listening to them articulate the problems they are trying to solve not only challenged us to do more but also motivated us to have a broader view of the education landscape.
Dennis shares a moment during retreat with his fellow colleagues, with whom he shall journey with for the next 5 months and hopefully, a lifetime.
This shared passion for change was evident throughout the retreat. And the result was that each of us felt like we belonged. This was despite the age gap between the fellows. This is a group that represents two generations and as such, there is the unbridled passion of youth tempered with the invaluable wisdom of old hands. The mixture is a powerful one. We all felt a genuine connection. We shared not only our dreams but also our failures. Can you imagine one night we had a toast to failure, and everyone shared a story of a time they flopped? After sharing my story, I had four of the fellows coming to me to offer words of encouragement and share their own experiences that had a correlation with mine. It proved that even though our experiences may seem different on the surface, there are similarities that we can draw if we look deeper.
“There is so much we can do but if we do not listen to the young people, all our efforts will be in vain. The learners reminded us to do everything we can to make education a more wholesome and inclusive experience. I believe this is the goal of all our endeavors- to contribute towards providing quality education to every child.”
Selfie time!. Dennis believes that at the centre of any teaching and learning process lies relationships, a mantra that he lives by through his interactions with his students.
One of the highlights of the retreat was the session we had with students from different high schools. They talked about the current situation of the education system, what they like, what they would like to see changed, and how education in this country can be improved. There is so much we can do but if we do not listen to the young people, all our efforts will be in vain. The learners reminded us to do everything we can to make education a more wholesome and inclusive experience. I believe this is the goal of all our endeavours- to contribute towards providing quality education to every child. And through Metis, I’m sure I’ll be on my way to making my contribution towards this dream. At the end of the fellowship, I hope to have The Teaching Pool up and running and to use the connections made here for future partnerships, reaching 500 teachers annually with opportunities for professional development. I’m excited about a future in which Kenyan teachers are supported and connected to each other in the same way I was at the retreat.