Planning this seminar over long distance; without a computer or internet and impending end of semester exams has been challenging to say the least but....at least I can now look back and reflect. As with anything that is planned well, the delivery is usually smooth and productive. I would like to say happily that this was so! Melissa from our sister organisation, The Foundation For Tomorrow, TFFT, has been specialising in teacher training seminars and brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our small team of 2! We planned the three days around helping our teachers to understand why and how to engage in interactive, participatory learning methods to achieve higher level thinkers. Plan...plan...plan....it's not something Tanzanians do readily so our task was challenging and my ongoing monitoring and evaluation of their use of this seminar will be interesting. However, that said, we do have some very committed and motivated teachers amongst the staff this year. They were the ones who reassured us that our time and energies were appreciated and gratefully received.
Having been taught in good schools myself and having taught in Australian schools all my life, I have taken for granted many quality teaching techniques and classroom habits that encourage higher level thought processing....that are simply the norm in Aussie classrooms! It has been refreshing for me to be able to share simple techniques and fun activities with the girls and now the staff. BUT.....interactive teaching and nurturing creative thinking is not something they are comfortable with, or practiced at, so time will tell whether the teachers are really committed to changing and adapting. The National Exams hang over them....foreboding....and stifling their freedom to think creatively. Change requires time...and it's not something they believe they have to waste! Waste!!!!????? Slowly, slowly they may actually realise what we are suggesting and that planning interactive learning can give quality time...not waste time. I am going to need to give a lot of support, encouragement as well as nurture colleague support and team work so that they will continue using creativity when I am gone! Strategies are forming...I will keep you informed of how we progress!
When I can actually upload some pics, I will show you the fun we had! Exploring Debono's 6 thinking hats really had me needing to be creative as it was difficult to find the colored hats we needed. A red helmet.(Joffrey pounced on that one!)...my white hat which Grace wanted to keep as she looked very chic in it! A green crepe paper turban which suited Steven well...all he needed was a crystal ball!! Salome's yellow cap was a mass of golden tinsel, Pauline wore the black witch's hat....she is so... not a witch!!! We laughed and had lots of fun as they wore their hats through the entire session!
Steven was our Energizer man....He started each session with a different activity to get us loosened up and created some hysterical laughter....
Inevitably we had some minor technical hiccups but Joffrey our IT man was able to help us through them. We had Polly's support throughout the 3 days. Her interaction and contributions were so valuable and her concern for her staff was genuine. Our wonderful Matron and 2 beautiful Mama Cooks cooked up a storm. They had us eating like kings and queens throughout the three days! Meanwhile, they were still catering for nearly 90 girls as well in the humbly equipped kitchen. Tanzanians love to celebrate and love to cook for their people when they have the resources to do so. Producing song, dance and food seems to be a natural skill amongst the women!
At the completion of the three days the walls were covered with visual stimulus and reminders of the information we had uncovered, discovered, applied and shared! Our brains hurt but there was definitely and air of expectation and excitement as the teachers reflected and shared that their expectations had been met far beyond what they had hoped for. They were really looking forward to the next semester to apply their knowledge and skills and seemed really pleased to be given a reason to be motivated to plan! What a shame we are facing straight into exams for the next 6 days!