Sharing practice across oceans | Aga Khan Academies

Sharing practice across oceans

Andrew Jones is a teacher from Ontario, Canada who has spent the past year at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, working with the Junior School as part of a teacher secondment partnership between the Aga Khan Academies and the Province of Ontario.

On first arriving at the Academy Andrew said, “I [am] expecting an enriching experience that will allow me to learn about another culture by being immersed in it. I expect to grow as an educator because different settings, both culturally and through the [International Baccalaureate] programme, will allow me to expand my skill set as to how best practices support student learning.” One year later, he reflects on his experience.

Almost two years ago now, I was reading the book, Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle, by Chris Raschka to my new grade one class in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. This book helps me encourage my students at the start of the year to continue developing resiliency through adopting a growth mindset by trying new things, taking risks and reflecting on both successes and mistakes. Little did I know, I was not just teaching my students this skill, but I was also going to follow this advice myself.


Ever since I began teaching almost 10 years ago, many changes in my job assignment have sparked a passion for professional learning and development in my teaching practice. Over this year, I have immensely enjoyed this new job working for the Ministry of Education in Ontario on an educational partnership between our government and the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa. I have had the opportunity to grow and learn as both an educator and an individual through my interactions at the Academy and through daily life in Mombasa. 

Working at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa has been an immense opportunity of both professional and personal learning that I am thankful for. I ask myself this very question, “What best teaching practices am I learning about that I should share with Ontario teachers?”

Here are three that I have learned more about since being here.

Building Confident Leaders – Students build their confidence and exude enthusiasm as they try new things and take risks during their participation in a variety of classroom activities, sports galas, enrichment opportunities and Friday assemblies. Students are confident, have strong leadership skills and advocate for equity. Confidence stands out as a defining characteristic of the learners present here in the Junior School.

Promoting Pluralistic Thinking – The Junior School’s demographic is vibrant and diverse, reflective of the Mombasa community’s cultures, religions and backgrounds. Activities at the school, such as the Arts Week performance, continually emphasise appreciation and understanding toward different views and beliefs and encourage students to think pluralistically as they work together.

Dual Language Practices – I have been learning Kiswahili “pole pole” this past year, and I am quite experienced in giving directions to tuk tuks and boda bodas. As I learn a new language, it helps me think about the world in different ways and makes me more pluralistic in my thinking. Likewise, students at the Academy develop academic competency and fluency in both the national language of Kenya, Kiswahili, and the official language of Kenya, English. Additionally, learning similar concepts in two languages allows students to develop pluralistic view points as languages sometimes look at similar ideas in different ways.

I am thankful to explore Kenya’s beauty and diversity, so far from Mount Kenya to the Masai Mara to Mombasa. I continue to grow and to learn and am thankful to the kind and generous Mombasa community that has made my transition to working at the Academy warm and welcoming. I feel very privileged to be working with such a dedicated and caring staff and with phenomenal students.


By Andrew Jones