Becoming a teacher is one of the most common answers to the infamous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And as is the case with many children, teaching was Joyce Kiango’s dream job. The preschool teacher used to tell her parents that she wanted to become a teacher. And teaching is exactly what she does today, except she does it differently. She is independent and therefore teaches in various schools at different times. Joyce has, through her work, touched the lives of over 300 kindergarten children in approximately 60 preschools over an eight-year period.
“Teaching gives you the chance to witness the formation of great minds,” she tells Woman.
I met Joyce for an interview at Fun Hearts Academy in Kigamboni, where she teaches part-time. I was impressed with the way she interacted with the students, especially her entry into the school assembly hall, which involved dancing with the children as well as singing the alphabet. Her unique style earned her grateful looks and applause from her fellow teachers.
After the dance and song session, the students returned to their respective classrooms. Joyce joined the pre-unit class with over eight students. She told them about “sources of water,” a lesson that required the class to gather around a small table in the middle of the class. Together they started to sing a song that reflected the subject.
His teaching style is the same as the opening of his TV show Watoto Shangwe on Azam TV. During the show, which airs from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, the creative teacher playfully swings while showing off body parts and counting with her fingers.
Joyce’s teaching career journey began in 2014 at Patmo Junior School in Tabata, Dar es Salaam. She was employed as a middle class teacher before becoming a pre-unit teacher, a position she holds to this day.
During her interview at Patmo Junior School, Joyce had to teach body parts, which she nailed after a night of prep. The principal was impressed with the way she interacted with the students. She was then asked to make alphabet sounds, something she didn’t know at the time.
“I thought my inability to make the sounds meant I had failed the interview, so even when the manager thanked me for my time, I thought that was it. After about a week, I received a call saying that I had gotten the job on the condition that I master the sounds in three weeks, because that was an important part of the job. His career took a turn when his student at the time, Mai Zumo, a young comedian popular on social media, joined his class at Patmo Junior School.
Mai’s family tended to help her revise what she had learned in school. Thanks to this, Joyce’s name became common in their household. Being a family of comedians, they created an Instagram skit where Mai was featured daydreaming about what she learned in school, and Joyce’s name was definitely mentioned.
“When my name was tagged in the post, my life really took an unexpected turn,” she explains.
Engagement on the video increased when people with huge followings on Instagram including Jokate Mwegelo, the Temeke District Commissioner and Albert Msando, a renowned lawyer, shared the video.
“Almost all the parents wanted me to teach their children, which prompted schools in different parts of the country to offer me job offers. Some of these schools include Stars Academy in Arusha and One Planet International School in Dodoma .
It was through these offers, some of which were gladly accepted by Joyce, that she was able to experience a Cambridge program. At the time, Joyce started thinking about sharing his knowledge with as many students as possible without limiting himself to one school.
While she was thinking about this, Azam TV offered her an offer that was almost similar to her idea of being a freelancer.
“They came up with a TV show that would air on their station. The show involves going to different schools to teach as well as being part of the content which benefits many more students. Joyce says the idea of not being tied to a school felt like a dream come true. “Today I am hosting a show named Watoto Shangwe, which is almost a year old. It is really a big achievement for me,” she said.
Joyce says that while most Tanzanian societies look down on the profession, that shouldn’t discourage people who want to explore the teaching profession. “Teaching, like any other job, can bring you happiness, respect and wealth if you work hard.”
For teachers who have let themselves down, says Joyce; “I want to remind them that we all start somewhere. Teaching requires one to start where he is with what he has before moving in the direction of his liking.
She adds; “You can start by volunteering at the nearest school and while you’re at it, do whatever you can, be creative and prove to them that you deserve the job.”
As a freelance teacher who has worked in both public and private schools, Joyce was able to learn about different cultures and practices which she took as life lessons.
His goal is to one day create his own kindergarten.
Damaris Maluki, the principal of Fun Hearts Academy, praises Joyce for her teaching skills and her patience with the students.
“I’m impressed with how she owns the class and makes the students feel like she’s one of them. She takes her time to make sure what she’s teaching is well understood. This shows how much she loves her job,” says Damaris.
Juliette Shoo, a teacher at One Planet International School, describes Joyce as a creative teacher with techniques that inspire children to pay attention during class.
“In her, I see a teacher who really values her work. She knows that dancing with the students and singing makes the students understand her better and it is obvious that this is the case. It created a wonderful bond between her and the children,” says Juliette.