Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Preschool Teacher Training

I recently spent a week and a half participating in a teacher training. For three days I was trained to use a new preschool curriculum and then we (myself and four other teacher trainers) spent a week training 9 preschool teachers to use it. 

Sarie, Lucy and Judi
The program came out of an organization in South Africa called Isivuno and is geared for use in the developing world. All the suggested teaching aids are made using readily available resources such as discarded bottle caps, pieces of colourful plastic, candy wrappers, rocks, hand-drawn posters, etc. 

The training was wonderful and I so appreciated working with this new curriculum. I particularly really enjoyed my first official time training teachers. I have learned a lot these past months about the limitations placed on teachers and schools here in Kenya. While most teachers are incredibly passionate about teaching children, teachers often don't get paid regularly, have to teach with very limited resources and often do not receive adequate training. Now, that's a huge generalization of Kenyan schools, but a true generalization nonetheless. 

Finger painting!
I was very excited to participate in this training because it is a resource that I can take with me wherever I end up- whether South Sudan or another East African country. The curriculum itself is very nicely put together. It is biblically based, uses many manipulatives, is laid out step-by-step and teaches literacy, numeracy and life skills. Since many preschool teachers do not have any training and may have not even finished secondary school, this curriculum is highly useful. 

While I have never felt the desire to teach in the pre-primary classroom, I have realized that, in this East African setting, I need to have some insight into how these classes run and how they could potentially be run better. I learned that the Kenyan government doesn’t dictate what is taught in these early years. They start funding public schools from grade 1. Therefore, many of these pre-primary schools are virtually day cares in which the children are fed, changed, and left to play all day. This system runs into problems, however, when grade 1 students are expected to be able to recognize and write their letters and numbers, know the sounds of the letters, be able to spell and recognize their name, hold a pencil, cooperate well with their classmates, etc.

Our teacher trainers really enjoyed all the learning and discussion we had during the week and left with at the end of training with comments like this:

Francis learned, "For us teachers we should use educational resources to teach. And these are God-given because we don't have to go and buy resources. We can just make them."

Judith said, "I learned that each one of us is unique. Therefore each of our children are unique."

Biblical Foundations
Magdaline commented, "I learned that I am able to teach. So we can also encourage our children that they are able."

Jerusha mentioned, "As a teacher, I've learned that we should be caring and show our students concern by loving them and providing for their needs."

Caroline stated, "I've learned that I need to have the resources to help the students succeed."

Grace believes, "A teacher is a role model to a community and to society at large."

With exciting realizations like these, how can I not feel energized?

Learning to Teach using Manipulatives

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