Friday, February 26, 2016

Return to Chawama: Upper Grade Teachers

Frances Phiri - really loves his students
Mabuchi and I returned to Chawama today.  We were pleased with the level of student engagement we observed.  We began with Francis Phiri in grade five.  His 40 students squeezed into a stuffy and dark room yet eager to learn.  Mr. Phiri was using a number line to teach addition.  He utilized many strategies that engaged the students in discussion.  Many students came to the board and demonstrated successfully how to add various addition problems using the number line.
Student demonstrates how to add using a number line
During his post-observation conference he mentioned he wanted to talk less and have his students to share more to increase student learning – a wonderful observation! He also wanted some strategies to increase thinking in his classroom – which I happily shared.
So crowded student must climb over the desks to get to the front!
Next we observed Febby Banda, the grade six teacher and acting head teacher.  Febby has attended several trainings in the past including a one-week modeling and coaching session from me.  She catches on quickly to concepts presented and desires to acquire the skills to be a distinguished educator.  Mabuchi and I were not disappointed.   
Students turn and talk as usual in her class
One of the objectives of her lesson was to know which foods have water, since water is an important and necessary part of our body.  She brought several foods such as an orange, watermelon, cucumber and lemon.  She asked students to demonstrate by squeezing the food to see if liquid would come out.  Finally she held up a sugar cane.  Numerous hands went up since sugarcane is a special treat.  It was difficult to squeeze the cane but the selected student chewed the cane and enjoyed the sweet juice.  Of course she used engagement strategies throughout the lesson. During the post-observation conference Febby described the student participation as “The students were flowing in the lesson.” I had to agree.  She made many suggestions to improve her lesson and listened earnestly to one or two I made.

Stephan teaches about the cell
The new grade eight teacher, Stephen, taught a science lesson about the cell. He too had many engagement strategies he had picked up just by observing my lesson.  He used many illustrations to explain the topic.  His enthusiasm coupled with his gentleness serve him well in the classroom.

Our final observation was in Mr. Banda’s class.  (Yes another Banda – the name is very common among those from Eastern Province).  The teacher enthusiastically presented his lesson about matrixes.  Many of the students were answering and following along. 
Mr. Banda and his math lesson
During the post-observation conference we suggested he might want to pause a bit when asking a question to give everyone an opportunity to think about the answer.  He is eager to learn and excel.
Two little ones crawl under a desk during break time to look at books.  LOVE IT!

Mabuchi and I will now prepare for the training on Thursday and Friday.  She will spend tomorrow purchasing food and supplies while I finalize my presentations and handouts.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Observations at Chawama

A little blurry from the moving car -- one of many "lakes" on our drive 
February is the middle of the rainy season here.  This year however the rain has not been as plentiful as usual.  The water table remains low and rolling blackouts and water rationing continue.  The heat yesterday reminded us of the heat in October or November.  This morning my window was open and I could feel a breeze and later the wind.  Suddenly it grew a bit dark.  The thunder started rolling, lightening flashed, and the rain poured down.  It was a welcomed sight but the lake-like puddles in the road delayed traffic and made our drive to Chawama a challenge.
Jeno checking for understanding
Mabuchi and I observed four teachers today at Chawama.  We began with Jeno, the grade seven teacher who sometimes wears a lab coat.  He had training from me in November.  He taught a lesson on multiplying fractions.  The students seemed to grasp the concepts and interact well. During the post-observation conference I reminded him how to represent fractions with pictures as well as using the algorithm to solve the problem.  He had many questions and is eager to learn.

Grade 7 students discuss how they solved the problem

Teacher Mercy write the lesson on the board - Mabuchi looks on
One of the new teachers, Mercy, teaches grade one. She drew pictures on the board for the students to count and asked them to write the numbers represented. During the post-observation conference she said that next time she would use concrete objects instead to teach the concepts.  We discussed what type of concrete objects she might use for counters including the students’ fingers.

Precious, the grade two teacher, who has had one training, taught a lesson about things we use to stay clean, such as toothpaste, soap, a towel etc. 
Teacher Precious takes her teaching seriously
The students did well on the assignment and during the post-observation conference the teacher mentioned several ways she could make the lesson more relevant to the students.

Mr. Lundu's kind and soft spoken manner add to his love for children
The grade three lesson was on division.  The teacher, Mr. Lundu, who has received no training, introduced the concept by saying division comes from the word “divide” and divide means to share. I thought phrasing it in such a way described it well and made sense to the students. Mr. Lundu used a lot of “turn and talk” during the lesson and “write the number on your paper and share with your friends.”  The number he used for the students to divide was quite large which made it difficult for his pupils to solve but he was on the right track with his engagement strategies.

Finally, we ended our observations with Miss Mtonga, the new grade four teacher.  She began with a review from yesterday about synonyms and introduced today’s lesson about antonyms.  She had some good strategies in place and we were able to talk about how to make her practice stronger by utilizing a few others.
Miss Mtonga writes the exercise on the board
During the post-observation conference time with teachers I always go back and ask about the learning objective; what specifically the teacher wants the students to learn that day. That usually takes some discussion before we get to the specific objective and understanding of what they should teach.  Writing a clear and concise objective is a challenge for most teachers.  We will continue to practice this.
Grade three students share their answers with their partners

The skies cleared up at the end of the day and the sun came back out.  In fact it is quite warm again this evening.  There might be rain again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Return to Kwacha School: Observing Teachers

Mabuchi and Mrs. Shawa in the classroom
Mabuchi and returned to Kwacha to observe the grade 1 -7 teachers. 
Our first stop was Mrs. Shawa.  She read a story about the lion, the hyena, and the hare.  The children enjoyed the story but really enjoyed sharing ideas with each other. 
The more they shared and
Mrs. Shawa saw their excitement the more excited she became.
 Mabuchi and I were really pleased with her progress and understanding of the engagement strategies in such a short period of time.
Mr. Phiri
We went to Mr. Phiri’s grade six and seven class next.  Mr. Phiri taught about the digestive system.  He had several things in place in the lesson. Mabuchi helped out at the end by modeling for the teacher and reviewing with the students what they had learned.
Making sure all students are participating 
Our final observation took place in the grade two and three class where the teacher pointed out the provinces and provincial towns on the map of Zambia. 
The teacher explained to me that some students have been at the school for a year or more and others are new.  We discussed ways to help the new students such as having them sit next to a student who has attended Kwacha for some time.  The teacher was open to the new ideas we presented. 

After each lesson I met individually with each teacher asking what they thought went well in the lesson, what they might do differently next time to make it better, and if they wanted some suggestions from me.  All teachers offered insights about their teaching and welcomed suggestions for improvements.
One of a few stops we made on our shopping trip
After saying goodbye to our teacher friends we headed to town for a bit of shopping. The school with no pencils or exercise books mysteriously received a couple dozen pencils and a stack of exercise books after our shopping excursion.    

Mabuchi with our host family
Our host for the week invited Mabuchi and me to his house for dinner where we had a traditional Zambian meal prepared by his wife and daughters.  We enjoyed meeting his family and spending the evening with them.  
We are leaving for Lusaka in the morning on a bus ride for five hours.  Time for some sleep.

Posted late due to internet difficulties.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Tour of Schools in and Around Kitwe

When I visited the Copperbelt in November I heard there might be one or two other community schools here but no one knew for sure.  Our goal today– visit any CCAP community school or potential school and gain as much information about them as possible.

Private School children play on the Wusakile Community School playfield
Our first stop was Wusakile Community School, a new CCAP school meeting in the church building.  We found an energetic young teacher and six grade one and two students, although the teacher reports they have as many as 15. Seeing that the group was so small and the teacher so eager to learn I asked if I might demonstrate a lesson. 
Students return from drawing a flower
I did an impromptu version of my parts of the plant lesson. The students and the teacher enjoyed it.  The teacher was able to explain several strategies I modeled and which ones she might incorporate in her teaching. Mabuchi and I noticed the students had no pencils only a few crayons to share and a few pieces of white paper instead of the traditional exercise books. I always wonder how teachers manage under such conditions.
Teaching how to turn and talk

Watching as the teacher tries
The teacher takes over - an active member of the church looks on

Pastor, teacher, students, Mabuchi and other school/church leaders of Wusakile
The church also rents part of the building to a private school of 120 students pre-school through grade seven. The money they collect contributes to the CCAP community school teacher’s stipend and a bit goes toward building a permanent structure for the community school.  Since the church already has a wall around the perimeter, some space, and a guard at the gate, a “pay to park” parking area has been proposed as another income generating idea.

Two of the four classes meeting in the church of Hosanna School
Our tour continued with a stop at Hosanna Community School.  It is not a CCAP school but they would like to join and benefit from training and resources available through CCAP. Currently they rent from a church but would like to move to a CCAP building where they could teach at no charge. The school has four volunteer teachers and about 150 students.  They meet in a dark and stuffy building where the surface of the blackboards are so worn the chalk struggles to adhere. 

Making a suggestion to a willing teacher
Mabuchi and I walked around observing each teacher.  I stopped to watch the head teacher with his grade 7 students.  He had several strategies in place but with a few tweaks he could engage his students even more.  I asked him if I could model a couple methods that might help the students learn better.  He gladly let me try and then jumped back in, incorporated the strategies and continued the lesson.  I did this one more time and he picked up the concepts quickly and continued. 
Teacher starts to understand the power of student discussion

Mabuchi watched and I told her this was a form of coaching that she could try. A few minutes later I saw her with another teacher modeling and then stepping aside, modeling and stepping aside.  Her years of experience and intuition make her a natural in this position.
Mabuchi models "turn and talk"

Mabuchi watches as the teacher tries
The enthusiastic grade 2 and 3 teacher continues with math
Mabuchi with teachers, a community member, our host (in back) and Pastor Zimba of Kwacha church.

CCAP would like to help Hosanna school and has suggested using Kawama, a church with lots of land for a school building.  Kawama is located near the current location of Hosanna and the school could use the building for free.
Doors of the church

The land goes almost to the trees in the background

6 cuties who attend the private school at Cimwemwe
In November while visiting Kwacha school I also visited Chimwemwe Church where a community school is planned but not without an income generating source first.  The church is building a venue for receptions or parties and the proceeds from the profit would first help construct a school building and later pay the teachers.  Currently the church rents some space to a private pre-school with six students.
Rev Nkhoma
Some may remember I lost my dear friend Rev. Kondwani Nkhoma in June, the former CCAP community schools coordinator.  Once she transferred to the Copperbelt I had promised to visit her but the opportunity came too late. 
Mabuchi poses in front of the church
I fulfilled my promise in a small way today by visiting her church and home in Kalulushi.  I met the new pastor and his wife, Pastor and Mrs. Zimba.  It turns out I met Pastor Zimba when Karl Klontz and Shane were instilling solar panels on Indepedence Day at Chasefu Seminary back in October.  Yes, it’s a small world.  Kalulushi would like to start a community school as well.
Rev and Mrs. Zimba posing in front of their house where Kondwani once lived

Mabuchi and I returned to our guesthouse and started planning for the training next week.
This entry was written a couple days ago but internet has been slow or unavailable so I am just now able to publish.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Return to the Copperbelt

After a five hour bus ride Monday Mabuchi and I arrived in the Copperbelt in the town of Kitwe. 
Catching up on some work in the tight quarters of the bus
One of the pastors picked us up and drove us to the guesthouse where we are staying until Friday.  Our housing has graciously been arranged by one of the elders in the church.  The accommodations are clean and complete with a shower and toilet.  There are dining facilities here as well making the arrangement quite convenient.
View of our guesthouse
The Copperbelt is in the north by the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Trees and tall green grass line the sides of the road. 
As this is the rainy season dark clouds roll in each evening and the thunder and lightening and downpours begin. There is flooding not far from here. But as one of my Zambian friends expressed, “We prayed for rain and now we have it.”

Note the classroom they are using
These boys took "form a group" seriously
Grade 2 and 3 squeeze into this small make-shift classroom
Yesterday we visited Almighty Community School in the Kwacha district of Kitwe. I visited here in November and returned to model lessons for the three teachers.  The teachers and students rely rather heavily upon Chibemba (the regional language) and not English.  As I have discussed with other teachers – the only chance these children have of passing the grade seven test but more importantly succeeding beyond work in the compound, is speaking English. 
Reflection time with the teachers 
We had a good reflection time and a mini training with the teachers to prepare them for the lessons we will observe on Thursday. 
Teachers and leaders of Almighty Community School
Mabuchi and I had a quiet evening eating dinner in the guest house dining room and debriefing about the day.