Reflecting on the Zambia Trip

Our 2019 Zambia trip was a huge success! It’s been a day since touching back down in the States on Monday afternoon.  As the trip is freshly in my mind, I wanted to take some time to share my reflections.

Thoughts from a 30,000 ft. view

Looking at schooling in the big picture, there is very little difference from country to country. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. It seems as though we each follow a specific system, with some wiggle room on each side. Here are the core similarities…for the most part, we both have national bureaucratic challenges that get in the way of kids learning and teachers providing quality instruction. Initiatives. Forms. Laws. Tests. Funding. All major turbulence creators. Secondly, there are so many truly dedicated teachers in both Zambia and the U.S. I believe deeply in my heart that I have never met a teacher who did not first join the teaching ranks without having children’s best interest in their minds The majority of these teachers are digging in each and every day, giving their kids their whole heart. They walk out of their classrooms each afternoon knowing that they’ve given their best.

Finally, to the core, the amazing children. Each and every child naturally begins their life with a full tank of curiosity, wonder, and dreams. The words of “Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?” are constantly being asked, in an effort to fill the voids of understanding, connect the dots of the world around them, and build bridges between the unknown and the known.

Thoughts from the ground view

School is changing. There is a major movement happening at School of Hope. A shift in dynamics from passive learning to active learning. It’s happening in Crystal Lake as well. As technology permeates every corner of our world, even in the villages of Zambia, teachers have realized that they can no longer be the “keeper of knowledge”, “sage on the stage” or the “filler of vessels”. Information is a click or swipe away.

Knowing this, we readjust our focus onto the learning pyramid. My work this past week was to build the staff’s capacity in providing deeper learning opportunities for the students. To sit briefly at the top of the learning pyramid during a lesson so that the majority of the class time students are active in group discussions, practice and teaching each other. When students are in the lower half of the pyramid the levels of student collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skyrocket. I’ve experienced this happening for students and teachers in both Zambia and the U.S. Understand however, that this change is hard. Not all teachers and students like this change in dynamics because it’s not the way they’ve always done it. But, we’re doing it. Slowly. One teacher at a time. One child at a time. One classroom at a time. One school at a time. One village or town at a time. With your continued help and support, A to Z is making a difference in the lives of children. From America to Zambia.

 

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