Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chaphanji, Chimosa, and Kavinaka – May 12 & 13

Mabuchi and Mr. Luka Zimba model "think, pair, share"
After a two-hour drive along rough and and rutted roads  we arrived in the village of Chaphanji. Most of the people speak little to no English but were interested in seeing a white woman and seeing the lesson, so adults and children, even babies, joined us. The teachers report that children often do not attend school, or at least not regularly. Although the classroom was packed with students almost none had paper or pencil.  Mabuchi and I quickly found some pencils in our materials, broke them in half and started sharpening.  
Adults and children of all ages joined the lesson.
After digging around in the closet, the teachers found some paper and we were set to go outside and draw a flowering plant.    It was obvious that many of the children had little or no experience drawing. After an excellent effort by Mabuchi, the basic objective of the lesson was met, the children dismissed, and we discussed what the teachers observed.  Mr. Luka Zimba was quick to make insightful comments about the lesson.  His partner commented that he learned a lot.  Both expressed willingness to practice some strategies they observed.
Mabuchi with her middle school friend
After taking a few photos including this one above of a classmate of Mabuchi’s from middle school, we jumped back in the truck and drove an hour and a half back down the dusty path to Chimosa.  Along the way Mabuchi happened to see her niece on the road who was visiting relatives in a nearby village.  I tease Mabuchi regularly that she knows everyone.
Mabuchi with her niece

Teachers observe as Mabuchi demonstrates and students draw a plant
Next stop: Chimosa!  A government teacher has joined volunteer teachers - Mr. and Mrs. Niyrenda. The government teacher is from a village in the area so he understands the language and culture well.  Mabuchi taught the grade threes about parts of a plant.  The students were prepared with their books and pencils and drawing a plant came easily to them. The children caught on quickly and Mabuchi got past the mere drawing and labeling part of the lesson and led a discussion about the purpose of each part. 

During the discussion with the teachers following the lesson, the government teacher seemed pleased and eager to try some of the strategies demonstrated by Mabuchi.  Mr. Niyrenda already uses some of the strategies but saw the need to use them more regularly.  After presenting the school with chalk and “dusters” as we do at each school, we returned to Lundazi.
Mabuchi presents chalk and dusters to the head teacher
Mabuchi and I pose with the teachers
Students turn and talk to determine the problem in the story
The following day we journeyed another hour and a half to the village of Kavinaka.  The teachers were prepared for our arrival including having name tags for the children.  The school building is new but the furniture is not yet available so students must sit on the floor.

Using real plants as a model for the "Part of a Plant" lesson

Mabuchi taught two lessons –
Students using "think, pair, share"
one for the younger grades and one for the older. The students responded well and contributed to the discussion. 
The two teachers appreciated the lessons and will be ready to demonstrate for us when we return next Friday.
Teacher, Mr. Francis Zimba and his family

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kaponga and Mazulouwa, Lovi and Matipa – May 10 & 11

Roadway to the village
The rainy season makes way for the cool dry season in Zambia.  The mornings require a jacket but the afternoon sun forces the jackets to come off.  Mabuchi and our driver, Moffat, project manager for CCAP Education Department, point out villages, schools, and friends they know along the way.  We zigzag down dusty roads flanked by tall grass crossing back and forth between Malawi and Zambia.
Mabuchi models a lesson while teachers look on

Our first stop is Kaponga – a school I have visited four times before.  Only a handful of children show up for school today but we teach the lesson anyway.  The school has two volunteer teachers and two government teachers.  The one government teacher has been there several years and is mentoring the two volunteer teachers.  Even though he has had some training from me in the past he reports he has learned some new things after observing Mabuchi’s lesson.  The teachers all contribute to the discussion.
The head teacher is thrilled to receive chalk and "dusters" for the school

We arrive at the village of Mazulouwa.  The two teachers present have received training from me in the past.  Mabuchi takes the lead on this lesson about parts of a flower, requiring the students to go outside and draw a flowering plant.  
Word spreads quickly that a white woman is in the village and when we return to the classroom a few curious visitors drop by and join us.  
The teachers admit they need to return to using some of the engagement strategies they have observed in the lesson. 

Mabuchi on the cement bridge
The next day we drive to Lovi, another village I have visited several times before.  In the past we have had to reach the village by crossing a log on a stream.  Last year the community put in a cement bridge making it possible for vehicles to cross the stream.  One of my beloved teachers, Mr. Mtonga his partner, a government teacher work well together. Mabuchi tries a new lesson about odd and even numbers which goes much better for her than it did for me in Lusaka in February.  Both teachers appear to work well together and contribute many insights about the lesson.
Reflecting on the lesson

Our final stop is Matipa.  The grade six and sevens are present and Mabuchi teaches the lesson on story elements.  She conducts much of it in Tumbuka but teaches several new vocabulary words and concepts in English.  
Students turn and talk to determine the story elements
She uses the story of the Tortoise and Hare to teach character, setting, problem and solution.  She reads the story in English while I act out some of the parts.  The school has two government teachers and one volunteer.  Again the teachers indicate they see the power of the strategies used and are willing to try them out in the coming days.

Some children get a ride to school in the truck (we made them sit down once we started moving)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Work Begins – May 8 & 9

Luangwa River on the way to Chipata
We left Lusaka, drove 8 hours, and finally arrived in Chipata where we spent the night.  It was a few more hours to Lundazi – our base for the next few weeks – so we visited two schools along the way. 
Kachere School
This was the first day of school for the term and typically students only come to check in and maybe help with some cleaning. Our first stop was Kachere and Mabuchi and I taught all the students who showed up ranging in grades from 1 – 7.  
Mabuchi took the lead on the lesson and the reflective conversation afterward.  The teachers enjoyed observing the strategies she used and commented that they are ready to try using them as well.  
After presenting the teachers with some chalk and erasers (“dusters” as we call them here) we made a couple bricks to contribute to the new teacher houses and we were on our way.

Next stop – Ikwele.  Ikwele has many students. Most of the grade six and sevens were present so we taught our most challenging lesson.  I took the lead and Mabuchi helped with some translation.  The language was a bit of a barrier but the students seemed to absorb most of the content. 
Students eagerly share their answers
The three volunteer teachers and two government teachers were present and expressed their willingness to try one or two strategies modeled in the lesson.
Teachers from Ikwele pose with Mabuchi and me

Our trip continued to Lundazi.  We arrived late in the afternoon and discovered the brakes were not working when we got to town.  Thankfully we were safe the entire way. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Graduation Day

Some of the graduates of Justo Mwale University - 2016
Last Saturday I had the privilege of witnessing the graduation ceremony at Justo Mwale University (JMU) in Lusaka.  JMU offers certificate programs in Missions, Stewardship and Sustainability, Children’s Ministry, and Community Mobilization and Development.  They also offer both a Bachelor and Masters of Theology, and Bachelors of Theology with Education.  I was pleased to see the number of women graduating in all the programs. 

Graduate receiving her bicycle
New graduates/pastors who serve in rural parts of the country are given bicycles so they can travel many kilometers to serve their parishioners.  Some of the women are given sewing machines to assist with income generation. The CCAP graduates are also given gifts from the churches where they served as interns.  
One of the sewing machines given to some of the women
CCAP graduate receives a blanket from his church

And like graduations everywhere – families rush to congratulate their graduate!

Project Overview and Sustainability

Mabuchi and me in 2006 - 10 years ago!
One of the key measures of success in any project or program its sustainability.  Often we hear of programs that are quite successful until the funding runs out, the leadership changes, or the momentum is lost.  Teachers may receive training but do not continue practicing what they have been taught because no one monitors, reinforces, or encourages them.  I am excited about this model because it has a self-sustaining aspect. 
Mabuchi models a lesson 
The goal of this trip is two-fold. First to model lessons for teachers, have them practice what they observed, observe them teach while we provide feedback and then provide a workshop based on needs.  This basically follows what we practiced in Lusaka in February only now in rural Eastern Province. We will travel to one or two villages a day to model lessons and then return a week later to each village to observe teachers using some of strategies they observed us model.  We will put on a training for teachers at the end of the month.
Mabuchi and me in 2015
The second goal of the project – which will help ensure self-sustainability, is to train and empower Mabuchi, the coordinator of CCAP community schools, so she can model effective lessons, reflect with teachers, observe, and provide feedback to teachers to reinforce these practices long after I am gone.  She will be checking in with each school via text messaging as well as periodic school visits.

I have known Mabuchi since 2005.  She was one of the first community schools teachers in CCAP.  She has been the head teacher at Mtendere and a trainer of trainers for the Strengthening Children program. 

Mabuchi with co-trainer and author of Strengthening Children, Dr. Bob
In her new role as Coordinator for CCAP Community Schools, Mabuchi will work closely with teachers to improve their teaching methodologies and also encourage and monitor the after school Strengthening Children program that helps children understand their feelings and deal with trauma and grief.  Her understanding of both the academic needs as well as social and emotional needs of children make her an excellent choice in this role.
Dr Chilenje and Mabuchi hold their copies of the AWSP magazine