“Filled With Hope” (from Betty)
As some of you have already read, last Friday was a unique opportunity for the A to Z team working in Zambia to help deliver workshops and professional development to about 150 teachers joining together for an “inset,” a day of learning. Teachers from School Of Hope, where the inset was held, invited other educators from rural villages in the zone around them, and teachers from Shine and another school in Lusaka, to be a part of this day. And what a fabulous day it was!
I made the nearly two hour trip from Lusaka with the teachers of Shine…who had never participated in this sort of professional development before. Despite a rough start with a flat tire on our small bus (van) and a police roadblock stop along the way…we arrived at School of Hope in high spirits.
After a warm welcome and opening remarks, teachers could choose from a menu of one hour mini-sessions covering various topics. My presentations focused on good questioning skills in reading both fiction and nonfiction text, writing and using ABC books with students, and science in the garden.
I was excited by the way my three groups engaged with the topics, with one another, and by the level of participation and questions being asked during and after each session.
What do you say to a teacher who has 80 students in her class and tries to teach a reading lesson…possibly without even having any books? How do you encourage teachers who have no science materials, resources, or gardens/plants near their school to teach about plants? What if there is no paper, or there aren’t pencils for the children?
The teachers attending work hard each day to do their job, many without any books or curriculum materials, or possibly share the scant supply they do have among the huge numbers in their classes. Issues of class size took on a whole new meaning, and I embraced the challenge of helping these teachers by offering ideas or answering questions. Many wanted extra time with all of us on the A to Z Literacy team as well as other presenters. They are hungry for ideas, materials, and help.
Thank you to Kathleen and Ben from
School of Hope for including me as part of this professional development day. It’s a life-changing experience to be a part of something so special.
With three A to Z experiences in Zambia under my belt, I know that I can never grab a book, pencil, pencil sharpener, or teaching resource again and not be eternally thankful for the abundance of resources I had at my fingertips throughout my 35 years of classroom teaching (and beyond).
Challenges in education are felt around the world. I am filled with hope on days like today. School of Hope is an oasis of education in rural Zambia….just as Shine Zambia Reading Academy is an oasis of education in the vulnerable compound of Mutendere East in Lusaka. I’ll carry this feeling of hope with me, always.