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April’s Shower of Training and The ABCs of TFFT’s Teachers Training

14 May

The training participants at SEGA with their certificates; also in the picture (aside from Melissa) is Fran Bruty, SEGA’s Participatory Learning Adviser.

By Melissa Queyquep

TFFT’s Teacher Training Program has been really busy this past month. We finished two training events in 2 partner schools, SEGA and Usa River Academy, training a total of 32 teachers. The training at Usa River Academy marks the revival of our training relationship with the school as we had to hold off last year because of the instability of the school management.

For both schools the training focused on classroom management, lesson planning, participatory teaching techniques, and communicating positively with students. Since joining TFFT, this month’s training has been the most challenging for me not just because I was sick half of the time during the month but because some of the topics were quite “controversial” for the teachers, i.e. lesson planning and managing student misbehavior. In one training, we had a session that was so challenging some teachers ended up defending their ways of dealing with student misbehaviors and questioning the ways of the West in disciplining their children. It drained my energy so much that after the session I had to hie off to the local bar with some friends to recharge and also to dissect the day’s events. Nothing beats Coca Cola (my drink of choice) in making one realize that glitches like this happen in learning events, and they happen for a good reason. After all, as in any social transformation efforts, resistance in different forms always comes with presentation of new ideas or proposing change. The positive takeaway from this experience? The training brought out in the open issues which the school need to address such as discipline policy, teachers’ code of conduct, and even lesson plan format! All’s well that ends well as they say, and so despite that very trying day, I managed to close the training on a positive note. The teachers felt the training was very useful and requested that I come more often.

Usa River Academy and Matonyok Primary School teachers after the training.

For fear of boring you with the mundane, I think I should segue to talking about some pieces of information about our Teachers Training Program. So here I’m giving you….. taa-daa!

The ABCs of the TFFT Teachers Training Program!

A is for assessment.

Our teacher training is needs based and so it is always preceded by training needs assessment. This process involves doing teacher observations, conferencing with the teachers, and a consultation with the school management. Data gathered through these means are triangulated and from the results the training needs of the teachers are prioritized and planned for.

B is for best performers.

We cap our every training event with the recognition of best performers or teachers who actively participated and contributed substantially to the discussions and activities. In any learning event, be it in a roomful of kids or a class of adult learners, nothing beats social recognition as a reward for positive behavior. From the best performers, we usually select teachers to groom as Training Champions for their schools. We provide these teachers additional training to be able to handle trainings such as developing a training plan, methodologies in handling adult learners, mentoring, and other topics that constitute a Training of Trainers.

C is for competition.

Nothing beats a friendly competition to spice up things in our training events. Who can come up with the best lesson plan? Who can come up with the longest list of teaching techniques? Groups scramble for points in every group work I give them—to the point that they even ask me to award points to the first group with complete members in the training room when we start in the morning! I maximize every opportunity to motivate our participants and competition ups the ante each time.

D is for Debates.

In the course of group discussions or during plenary, participants always end up debating. Part of the game especially when more than half of your participants are men, and did I tell you how much Tanzanian men (or Kenyan or Ugandan) love to talk in gatherings like this? A lot! The talk which starts with just sharing views or comments usually ends up with some of them engaging in a debate. I indulge them whenever time permits as we do get good points from these moments too but I have to use a lot of will to get them to stop and get on with the topic.

E is for Energizers.

In one of our trainings, the headmaster thought I was teaching his teachers songs and games to teach their students. He thought it was part of the training, one of the training topics. But energizers are indeed a part of our trainings! Good icebreakers always get trainings to a good start. Action songs and simple games keep the energy level of the teachers high in unholy hours such as after a filling lunch. I’ve regaled my teachers with a Congolese game (meaning of the words used unknown J) and a clapping and concentration game from Botswana. I usually pass on the responsibility of giving energizers to the teachers after the first day of training and boy, do I learn really good energizers from them! In a recent training, the French teacher got us all reciting in French: “Qui a mange le bonbon/Le bonbon de mon papa/Pas moi/Qui donc?” in a round that got our tongues twisted and our bellies aching from laughter.

F is for Food and Follow-up.

Guess which aspect of training we spend on the most? Training meals!!! Trainings are usually done during school break and since we don’t give out sitting allowances, one way to motivate teachers to attend is the promise of good food. I insist on giving our teachers the best food available in a budget that won’t break the bank. Short of asking for a pre-planned menu from the school canteen or from a caterer, I make sure they get meat with their mboga (vegetables) and rice or pilau or chapattis instead of the usual ugali. We usually spend around 5-7USD per participant per day (for 2 tea breaks and lunch)—by US standards I am sure that isn’t much, but our teachers really appreciate it.

Aside from food, F is also (more importantly) for follow-up. After a training event comes the following up or the monitoring. Whenever my crazy schedule permits, I visit the schools and observe classes to check if the training is impacting on the teachers’ teaching performance. One thing that I intend to accomplish this year even if it kills me is getting the school management to do regular follow-ups with their teachers and to share in the responsibility of monitoring and securing results from trainings done. Sadly this is not a practice among school heads here.

G is for Group work.

Cooperative learning is a main feature of our training events. Teachers discuss case studies together and basically work together on activities. This enhances camaraderie among the teachers. After working together for 3 (the shortest length of training we’ve done) to 5 days, the participants usually end up better friends from when they started the training.

H is for Handle setbacks gracefully.

Where would a trainer be without flexibility, sense of humor, and patience in this field and in a country where nothing is ever sure? From the simplest like power going off in the process of doing a Powerpoint presentation to the worst such as finding out 20 of the 25 teachers you’ve trained have upped and left the school or school heads finger-pointing on who should do teacher observations—the ability to handle setbacks gracefully is a boon. My perspectives have widened immensely from my 2 years of doing training with TFFT and I have those setbacks to thank for!

I is for Interaction.

The beauty of these learning events for our teachers is the opportunity to interact with their fellow teachers in a non-work setting. They also get to interact with teachers from other partner schools like the time we did the Usa River Academy-Star High School inter-school training for Science teachers. The trainings also afford them time to learn from their counterpart/s from the International School or specialists from other education-focused NGOs whom we get to facilitate some sessions.

J is for Jump for joy when a training is done.

The sweetest part of the training is the awarding of certificates that marks the end of a training event—another batch of teachers trained, another chance taken to improve the quality of education our children receive. I may not have the jump shots to show for it but deep inside, I am jumping for joy, doing somersaults even. The work is done, time to kick my shoes and relax (before I start working on the training reports) and relieve myself of the stress that comes with planning and conducting a training.

***

Thanks, Melissa for this breakdown of the training procedure. For anyone who has any questions or thoughts regarding TFFT’s Teacher Training program, ask Melissa below! We have another rider to introduce you to this week. The Annual Fund is still going strong.. we have raised $15,625 so far of our $50,000 matching goal. Will you help us get there?

TFFT Teachers Training 2012 kicks off at Star High School

30 Jan

By Melissa Queyquep, TFFT’s Teacher Training Program Director

This year’s first teacher training was held recently at Star High School. The theme for the training was “Managing Classrooms Effectively to Maximize Student Learning,” and we covered Classroom Management, Assessment, and Grading. Held at Star High School last January 4th to 6th, fourteen teachers attended the training.

Apart from inputs from the facilitator about classroom management and what it covers, the training became a venue for the teachers to share their own strategies on establishing and maintaining classroom conditions that facilitate teaching and learning. As expected, the session on addressing misbehaviors in class was the most heated. TFFT advocates for positive behavior modification approaches where corporal punishment does not have a place. We spent the session distinguishing between punishment and discipline. as quite often in Tanzania (and in most developing countries) these two are used interchangeably and even thought to be the same. There were exercises that involved the teachers in drawing up natural consequences or disciplinary measures for common misbehaviors they encounter in class. I believe the session opened their eyes, but honestly I am not expecting that it would change the discipline system overnight. The teachers even said the parents expect them to cane the students!

Group work is a main feature of TFFT workshops. The group presentation and the “grilling” of the presenters by the other groups is always the most enjoyable part of our trainings!

Group work is a main feature of TFFT workshops. The group presentation and the “grilling” of the presenters by the other groups is always the most enjoyable part of our trainings!

 

A lot of interest was also generated regarding different types of assessment, and the teachers requested another training that would further discuss this topic. The school manager, Father Mike Mushi, requested that we create a training schedule for the whole year so that the teachers can plan their activities accordingly. “The teachers do not want to miss out on these opportunities,” he said. Father Edward Urassa, school headmaster, and I are working on the 2012 Star High Teacher Training Program.

Denise McFadden and Fratern Tarimo, TFFT board member and Managing Director respectively, attended the closing ceremony and helped in awarding the certificates to the teachers who completed the 3-day training.

Denise McFadden addresses the teachers during the closing ceremony. In the picture too were TFFT’s Fratern Tarimo and Star High School school manager, Fr. Mike Mushi, and outgoing deputy headmistress, Sr. Mosha.

 

Mr. Henry Sanga, participant, receives his certificate.

 

The training’s best performers

 

2012 promises to be a busy year for the teacher training program, as the number of training beneficiaries has increased to four, with the lifting of the service suspension for Usa River Academy and the addition of Matonyok Primary School, a newly-opened non-profit school managed by a long time TFFT partner, Matonyok Parents Trust.

ISM Teachers to Help Out in TFFT Programs By: Melissa Queyquep

28 Sep

It all started in the kitchen of Gina Kirkpatrick, a Science and Maths teacher at the International School of Moshi (ISM-Arusha campus). Over beef burgers and beers, John Lane, a fellow teacher, talked about The Foundation for Tomorrow and what it does. John Lane was a volunteer teacher at Matonyok Parents’ Trust, one of TFFT’s partner orphanages, and remains one of its ardent supporters. Turned out Gina and their other ISM co-teachers had long been looking for a way to forge a closer connection with the local community.

That conversation culminated in a meeting with TFFT’s Melissa Queyquep and Joshua Nassari last Monday, 19th September. This time over coffee, TFFT and the “ISM 4“ discussed how they could work alongside each other particularly in the Teacher Training Program. All four teachers come with skills gained from years of teaching that the Teacher Training Program need—expertise that could enable our teachers to provide meaningful learning experiences to their students and enliven interaction in their classrooms. Kirkpatrick is a Science and Mathematics teacher in the secondary level, Shawna Spady and Lane are both teaching in the primary level, while Chelsea Koenigs teaches in the early years level. More meetings will take place in the next months to firm up plans but initially the group talked about teaching strategies for Science, Mathematics, and Reading both for primary and secondary levels as the most urgent topics.

Subject-based training has been in the drawing board of the Teacher Training Program for some time but for lack of resource persons who can help out gratis, this plan had to be shelved. Now that our teachers had been given the basics in the past workshops, this offer of help from the ISM teachers could not have come in a more opportune time.

During the meeting, the four were also given information about the other programs that TFFT run. Interest had been sparked as well in the Full Circle Program and plans are underway on how some of them could come and co-facilitate some of the Full Circle sessions.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that the Teacher Training Program had good Samaritans offering help. Cristina Claxton of Amani Children Center in Moshi also lent her support and expertise particularly in Special Needs Education in the first teacher training held last year. Indeed we are blessed to have found kindred spirits willing to offer their time and skills for the cause we are championing.