A Fresh Approach to Teacher Training at Impact Schools

At this month’s Impact Network training, our team decided to shake things up.  In 2017, each school will have the opportunity to present a training session as part of the monthly training.  We are excited to see what our teachers come up with this year!  Our intern on the ground, Kristen, sent us this summary of how the first one went:

 

Shopping in Katete

Our preparation began Friday afternoon as Sarah, Joseph Mushashu, and I headed to Katete for a shopping trip. Joel Village is located off of the Vulamukoko Junction, which meets the Great East Road connecting Lusaka to Chipata. In order to reach Katete, we needed to either walk 3km to the junction or catch a ride. Fortunately, after a few tries, we found a ride all the way to Katete with Mr. Jacob Banda, the Head Teacher at Chivuse School, whom I had met the day before. After arriving in Katete, we met Daniel Mwanza and began shopping. We meticulously searched out the best deals and kept track of our budget - we were buying enough food for a 70 person lunch, after all! 

Above: heading to Katete with the hills in the background, below: driving through the busy market streets.

Above: heading to Katete with the hills in the background, below: driving through the busy market streets.

Preparing the Morning Of

We spent Friday night and Saturday morning preparing the classrooms with enough desks for 63 teachers and space for the management team. It was a tight squeeze but we managed to make it work! The morning was spent organizing cooking of the meal, greeting teachers as they arrived, and registering attendance. 

A Full Agenda

We began our training day at 8:40 am, with opening remarks from Director Daniel Mwanza and a prayer from Elias Phiri. Sarah, my intern colleague, and I introduced ourselves and in turn, all present teachers introduced themselves.

A busy bike parking area

A busy bike parking area

Impact Network is constantly searching for the best ways to train teachers and provide the necessary support for these community schools to grow on their own.  For instance, Impact is piloting a new project of school-led training sessions. Mnyalua School was selected to present the first training session, which they did on Teaching and Learning Aids. They presented an hour and 10 minute long presentation, which the entire staff enjoyed greatly. Mnyalua School prepared a highly interactive session and had full attention and participation throughout their session.

  • The session began with a PowerPoint presentation and Q&A format to discuss what teaching and learning aids are and how they can benefit learners.
  • Maxwell Mbewe then presented grid technique drawings to demonstrate how to draw faces (pictured below). His presentation was a hit! I could safely say we were all laughing and learned a lot from his technique.
  • Davison Phiri presented a teaching aid for personal hygiene to which he attached detergent boxes, a toothpaste tube, shampoo bottles, a comb etc. so that students could see the items they were talking and learning about. His aim was for teachers to bring practical materials when possible to make the subject they’re teaching come to life in a more accessible way.
  • Finally, Festus Banda presented on a word wheel to be used during tutoring. He demonstrated how to make a word wheel out of cardboard and the many ways it can be used.
  • Mnyalua School finished their presentation with a skit demonstrating the use of learning and teaching aids during class time. It was the most popular training session of the day and certainly an excellent way to continue learning from each other!
Mnyalua School's PowerPoint presentation on teaching and learning aids

Mnyalua School's PowerPoint presentation on teaching and learning aids

Another innovative session was grade group discussions.  Teachers from all schools met with fellow grade teachers and discussed successful lessons, teaching moments, any challenges they had during the first three weeks of the term, and other ideas about past and future lessons. It was great to see teachers sharing their successful moments and challenging moments together as it allowed for them to find a commonality between one another. These grade group collaborations will continue because they are a tool for teachers to learn from and support each other in their development. We additionally had a Lesson Demonstration bloc, which provided a platform for returning teachers to perform role plays in order to demonstrate teaching methods to the new teachers. Each role play ended with feedback on successful parts of the lesson and areas in which they could improve.

A unique part of the training session was the Exam Committee meeting with Director Daniel Mwanza. Four teachers write the exams for each grade level. They make sure the exams are in line with the Zambian Ministry of Education’s requirements and that the questions accurately reflect what learners have covered that year. In keeping with Impact Network’s democratic and community-based approach, there were votes on who would be included in the committee. There was a lot of dialogue between teachers and management staff to choose the committee and at the end of the session everyone was satisfied with their picks. The Exam Committee will meet throughout the term to create the exams.

Maxwell Mbewe's finished product - many teachers were excited to learn how to draw faces using the grid drawing technique! 

Maxwell Mbewe's finished product - many teachers were excited to learn how to draw faces using the grid drawing technique! 

After lunch, Sarah and I delivered lessons on how to use applications on the iSchool tablet. I presented an introductory session on the word processor for new teachers, during which we worked on typing, formatting text, and saving documents. Sarah presented on using spreadsheets to make an attendance register for the returning teachers.

Last, Daniel conducted an exciting discussion on some of the big things coming to Impact Network Zambia this year.   He said that on February 28th, we will host a hand-over ceremony for three Japanese-funded classroom blocks. The Japanese Ambassador to Zambia will attend the ceremony and the Nyau will perform.

The training ended with an evaluation of the day so that teachers could assess the training and add anything they would like to improve. Our next training is in April and is taking place in Mnyalua instead of Joel - this was received very well as many teachers from Zone B schools have traveled monthly to Joel in order to attend the training and it was deemed fair to trade the responsibility.

An example of a completed action plan from Maxwell Mbewe at Mnyalua School.

An example of a completed action plan from Maxwell Mbewe at Mnyalua School.

After the meeting, Teachers in Charge from each school checked in to discuss their Action Plans. This is a new project with the focus of implementing projects according to individual school’s needs. Sarah and I checked in with Teachers in Charge in order to see what their plans are and how they are developing. Some ideas included cleaning up and maintaining schools, building a school garden, and building a school kitchen. Teachers in Charge were tasked with brainstorming deadlines for the steps of their project, any potential challenges (such as rainfall), and resources needed to complete the plans. I’ve provided an image of Mnyalua School’s action plan to create a school kitchen. This is an exciting and useful development for them as they will need the kitchen for the Mnyalua based teacher training day in April. 

All in all it was a successful day! As with anything there was room to improve but we are hoping to continually do just that.

Best wishes from David Sedenfield school at Joel Village,

- Kristen