On Friday, 150 teachers from area schools came to School of Hope for the Shalubala Zonal Inset (inservice). It was a remarkable day. Teachers were given four or five options of workshops to attend during each breakout session. Along with Dave and I presenting literacy based sessions, other Zambian teachers offered valuable workshops on teaching students with ADD, student empowerment, organizing clubs, and the new Zambian syllabus.
I was given the honor to address the whole group at the start of the day – my first keynote – in Zambia! In reflecting on what I wanted to share, three ideas came to mind. As a gardener, I look at teaching a lot like gardening, so I spoke of the need to cultivate student engagement, nurture student relationships, and to grow the capacity as teachers to create critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Personally, my favorite part of the keynote was when I asked teachers to draw three boxes in their conference folders. In box #1, teachers were to think back to their favorite elementary teacher and write the name down, and in box #2 was the name of their favorite high school teacher, and box #3 was to have the name of an adult mentor or someone who pushes them to be the best version of themselves. Teachers were then asked to share with peers around them names in the boxes. Everyone was talking and laughing about memories of their own schooling. As the keynote wrapped up, I encouraged and challenged teachers to become like those names in their boxes, to lift children up in their classes, and to build connection with the most valuable resource – our students.