Hello again friends! I am back from my trip to Africa and can't wait to share my experiences training these wonderful teachers with you all!!
This was one of the BEST groups of teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with!
In case you are unfamiliar with how I ended up traveling to Africa to train teachers, you can click on the image below to find out how this journey all began.
So much happened during the week of training that it's impossible for me to write about it all in one blog post. What I'm going to do is make a list of the main goals I had. Then I will share how we accomplished each goal throughout the week. Here we go...
5 Main Goals of the Conference:
2. To open teachers' minds to a different way of teaching that will promote active learning in all students. (To move from a traditional style of teaching to a more inquiry-based style)
* In Uganda, all teachers use a traditional style of teaching that involves mostly lecture and memorization. There is no real critical thinking involved and no real way for teachers to assess if students are really
* Many teachers believe: 'it is my job to present the information, and it is the students' jobs to understand. Once I have taught the lesson (via lecture, memorizing definitions from a text, or restating facts) then my
work is done.'
* Teachers use this traditional approach because that is all they know. They were taught with the same
rote memorization approach, and were trained only in this style at their teacher colleges.
3. To show teachers the importance of making connections between what is known (backgrounnd knowledge) and new information (what is being taught).
4. To show teachers how language and the written word are the keys to all other learning.
* In Uganda, there are over 50 different mother tongue languages, but the national language is English. That means that every...single...student is learning English as a second language. They require, but are not currently receiving, a bilingual education curriculum. Everything is taught in English only.
* The new curriculum we are writing for Uganda will be bilingual. Students will learn in their mother tongue the first week. The second week, they will receive the same instruction in both their mother tongue and English. The third week they will receive very similar instruction, but in English only. In this way, students will be able to make connections across the two languages and connect their second language (English) to their mother tongue.
5. To learn just as much from the teachers (if not more) than I could ever teach them.
How I Accomplished the 5 Main Goals:
What is Teaching?
Goal One: Empower Teachers
1. We brainstormed what teaching means in groups. Here are some of the definitions the teachers came up with:
2. We also brainstormed the character traits of great teachers. Here are some charts that teachers made in small groups:
What is Learning?
Goal Two: To open teachers' minds to a different way of teaching that will promote active learning in all students.
1. We first looked at the differences in the teaching styles of traditional versus inquiry approaches.
2. I modeled the think-aloud approach several times. I wanted to show teachers that there is more to teaching than just reading a book, or parts of a textbook and memorizing definitions. I used the think-aloud strategy to show them how we should be modeling our thinking before, during, and after we read anything to our students.
* After several times of modeling the think-aloud strategy, teachers got into groups and wrote down everything they were thinking about the think-aloud strategy. Here they are working hard!
Learning is About Making Connections!
Goal Three: To show teachers the importance of making connections between what is known (backgrounnd knowledge) and new information (what is being taught).
Here are some of the slides I used to show teachers how important their presentation of the objectives is in students' understanding the new learning. And also how they must find out what it is their students already know so that they can use that background understanding to attach new learning. We talked about Lev Vgotsky and the Zone of Proximal Development.
|Teachers are the bridge responsible for connecting what students already know to what they are expected to learn|
Language is the key to all other learning
Goal Four: To show teachers how language and the written word are the keys to all other learning.
Learning from the Teachers
Goal Five: To learn just as much from the teachers (if not more) than I could ever teach them.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I was absolutely blown away by this exceptional group of teachers.
Not only were they actively involved in learning all week, they were so excited to be there!
They never complained that they were giving up a week of their summer vacation to attend a conference without any pay.
They stayed focused and didn't have laptops up and open the entire conference.
They were insightful, collaborative, and on task all week.
I loved listening-in during small group work, and learned so much from several teachers as they shared their new understandings with the entire group all week.
|Teachers trying out some inquiry lessons that they wrote together!|
AND...the BEST part of the conference for me was...
...on Friday afternoon. Teachers put on a drama:
|The drama was about a bus driver who lets all kinds of negative influences onto his bus while he keeps pushing Jesus to the back. It was such a great message!!|
And Presented Me With a Gift!
They had decided the night before, as a group, that they should get me a gift to show their appreciation for my time with them in Africa. They bought me a beautiful basket from the market, wrapped it, and presented it to me on Friday afternoon.
I was beyond humbled. I was there for them and never expected anything in return. And for them to go out of their way to present the basket to me was so emotional.
I have a new family of teacher friends that I will cherish forever!
I can NOT wait to go again and continue supporting these teachers as they boldly and bravely step up to change the education of the children in Uganda.
Thank you all for reading my story. I wish all my teacher friends many, many blessings in the new year and for all the years to come!