TFFT: Our new student in Form 1, Upendo, has come to us through The Foundation For Tomorrow (TFFT)in Arusha, thus TFFT has become our sister school with whom we are going to work closely. Melissa’s area of expertise is that of Monitoring and Evaluating/ supporting and training teachers. This week she visited to begin her monitoring of where our SEGA staff are at. Together we will devise a staff support program/seminar and a monitoring process to nurture our staff to engage in classroom strategies which encourage our students to use higher level thinking. She came with her 2 year old son, North and the Nanny, BeBe Ester.
Delivery of subject content is dictated by the National syllabus which is designed to prepare the students for the National Exams. The quantity of subject content in the syllabus is enormous. Teachers are pressured to teach it ALL and their belief is that the most efficient method is Chalk & Talk and rote learning. Student s, having been taught this way for many years, are most comfortable learning in this style, The National exam is also written to reflect this style of learning!! Unfortunately all these factors do not nurture higher level thinkers and leave little room for acceptance of change in teaching techniques. Both Melissa and I, having observed our teachers at different times, recognise that their knowledge and ability to apply Participatory Learning techniques is good. My observations and discussions with the teachers, together with my own frustrations in the classroom, highlight the challenges in successfully applying interactive techniques. The belief from staff AND students is:
i) that changing from Chalk & Talk is time consuming and
ii) that if the other techniques are used then the content, needed to pass the National exam, is not being learned...!!!
So, what is our goal? To only pass the National Exam OR to nurture both Higher Level thinkers AND pass the National Exam!
Melissa and I are working on the latter! We have a talented staff and I believe we will experience productive responses. Training our own Tanzanian staff to be responsible for Monitoring and Evaluating their colleagues will also be one of our ongoing goals.
Having Melissa and her family to stay was delightful. Two year old North kept BeBe Ester busy, Mum on her toes, Kahawa under control and all of us entertained. Lower shelves were quickly emptied as my things were moved out of reach. Having a secure, large yard and a dog to play with was a bonus as was Mustafa’s visit on Tuesday. He is very good with small children and I’m sure North learned a bit about gardening! I am looking forward to visiting them and TFFT in Arusha later this year.