The end of the school year is here for Impact Network. Student assessments are complete and the results compiled and analyzed. The Katete West team finished the literacy and numeracy student assessments in all schools over the course of 3 days. The team managed to assess students from grades 2-6 at each school.
I was very impressed from the beginning by the whole team. The designated leaders (grade 7 teachers) succeeded in coordinating the movement of students to ensure that each of the 2 boys and 2 girls selected completed each assessment. It wasn’t an easy task since it was also exam week, and students didn’t necessarily want to stick around after exams to be assessed even more. There was a great amount of cooperation among team leaders, teachers’ in charge and other teachers allowing for a smooth process overall. It was fun for me as well to become more familiar with some of the schools farther away I had yet to visit, and to get to know a lot of the teachers and students better.
The first two days I joined groups going to Mkale and Zatose. I was surprised by the distances and conditions of the roads that made our journey over an hour each time. It left me with a greater appreciation of the dedication of Impact Network teachers and teacher supervisors who navigate these roads to teach and observe in schools and attend teacher trainings weekly.
It is now rainy season, so Day 2 in Zatose was a race against the storm to finish assessments and avoid being on the road. That was when the extent of the remoteness really sunk in. After concluding everything, heavy rains came and we discovered an issue with the car. I panicked in silence thinking, What are we going to do? While waiting for the rains to pass and then for the driver and the teachers, also self- ascribed “bush mechanics” to work on the car, I made the most of that time by interacting with the grade 6 students who had just finished . When asked if they were excited for grade 7 next year, they answered with big, bright smiles that they were. My inner teacher emerged and to pass the time I introduced a game everyone back home learns in their childhood--hangman. Of course, I explained everything in English as my Cinyanja skills are not coming along as I’d hoped, but they got the concept rather quickly, even finding it really funny. That was the highlight of the whole project for me, being able to interact with students in a way that is both educational and fun on both sides.
The other time spent in the schools with the students was very revealing. I helped to assess some of the older students in Math and English reading. Observations of strategies different students used to solve math problems were intriguing, but I was blown away by hearing some of the students reading abilities in English. It still makes me really proud and honored to be working with others who are improving learning outcomes in these extremely rural places.
We are now in the process of sharing the results with teacher supervisors in preparation for January 5 teacher training. While a lot of learning is taking place in schools, we have also learned with the results, (further detailed in Felicia’s upcoming blog post) specifically areas in literacy and numeracy where students can be learning even more. In discussions with the teacher supervisors, they have been quite surprised, but also very interested and motivated in their workshop planning to improve teachers’ skills in these areas.