Reflecting on Professional Learning in Zambia

As the 2016-17 school year began last week, I spent some time reflecting on the summer months along with A to Z’s work in Zambia this past June. A wonderful memory that continues to linger in my mind is our day of professional development with 150 Zambian teachers at School of Hope.

Teachers from all over the area came together to learn and grow; men and women wanting to make a difference in the lives of their students. Dave, Betty and I provided teachers with opportunities to attend sessions on reading, writing, asking questions, and literacy in content areas. There was something for everyone.

Without a doubt, I am confident that A to Z is continuing to impact the lives of Zambian students and teachers. Although our nonprofit is small, our educational impact is large.  By providing valuable support, we have increased literacy levels and the love of reading within schools and communities.

Faces of Zambia

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As the A to Z team has been reflecting on our recent visits to Shine Zambia Reading Academy and School of Hope, I thought a blog of photos would be fun to share. We are extremely grateful to you, our supporters, and without you, our work in Zambia would not be possible. Thank you for believing in our mission and thank you for your continued support of helping to increase literacy levels in impoverished communities.

 

 

 

First Grade Frenzy

By Mal Keenan

It’s hard to explain. It happens every time. It’s an energy that should be bottled. It’s that feeling I get every time I walk into a first grade classroom.

Excitement.

Happiness.

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Not long after walking through the first grade door at School of Hope, I found myself teaching a lesson with a busy bunch of six and seven year olds including: Wanzi (my favorite), Habula, Jane, Precious, Loveness, and Enock. At times, I found myself laughing at how hard it was to keep their attention. We worked on consonant and sounds, reviewing what had previously been taught, playing a game to make things more engaging. I’m not sure who had more fun – me or the kids.

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After the game, and spending time moving from one area of the classroom to the next, I looked at the teacher and said, “You are amazing and this is REALLY hard work – God bless you”. She smiled and proceeded with the math lesson. All in a day’s work in Grade 1.

Seed by Seed, Row by Row…How does your garden grow?

by Betty Trummel
Our visit to the bush, rural Zambia, gave us a glimpse of a completely
different way of life.  The School of Hope, located in Nyirenda, is
adjacent to the Village of Hope.  Both are run by All Kids Can Learn
International (AKCLI) and are shining examples of sustainability in
action.  Let me elaborate with one key element.

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My lessons for the past three days have focused on the incredible garden
near the school.  Elijah, the master gardener, has developed these
fields.  With the vegetables grown here, he helps feed the families in
the village, students and teachers at the school, and his own family.  In
addition, crops are sold to generate income for Elijah and his family.
Although it’s winter here, the location just south of the equator means
that temperatures are mild (70’s during the day right now, 50’s at
night), but if you asked any Zambian, they’d say it’s cold.  It is very
dry here – no chance of rain, which means Elijah and his helpers spend a
lot of time watering.  A good water supply is not as much of an issue as
it could be in other areas, since deep wells have been drilled on these
sites.  Still, water conservation practices are routine.

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What a JOY it’s been to work with students and teachers in grades 1-4 as
I read them books in their classrooms, then took mini field trips to the
garden.  Our goal:  to learn more about what parts we eat of various
plants.  That could mean the leaves (and sometimes stems) of cabbage,
rape (a type of cabbage widely grown in Zambia), basil, or spinach.  Root
vegetables include beets, carrots, radish, and onions.  Fruit bearing
veggies include eggplant, impwa (a smaller, orange version of an eggplant
with the same waxy coating and fleshy interior), tomatoes, and more!  In
some cases seeds are consumed like with maize (corn) and peas.

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Following our hike back to school, children drew and wrote about what
they had learned.  As a gardener myself, these lessons have an important
connection to my life, and to the life of the Village and School of Hope.
Thanks for opening the School of Hope, the village, and your hearts to
the A to Z Literacy Movement team.  Thanks to Elijah for welcoming me
into his garden with over 150 children in tow on six field trips.  I will
not soon forget this wonderful opportunity to teach, and to grow my own
knowledge.

Food for Thought

By Pat Kelly

Mal Keenan has an answer for every question. While at the School of Hope this week, she’s led professional development (PD) sessions with the staff of 18. The A to Z team has had three days of teaching, brainstorming, meeting and consulting. They’ve gone into classrooms and the director’s office repeatedly in a quest to impart as much knowledge and as many ideas as they can in their short time here.

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Capping each day have been Mal’s PD meetings. She’s invited the teachers at this impressive School of Hope to continue the important, challenging work they do with new concepts and research driven practices. Teachers have been moved by Mal’s experience and expertise and have asked thoughtful questions as she, Becky and Betty had them go through the information.

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This experience has been a really powerful reminder of how critical our own professional development is in education. As educators, we need to continue to develop ourselves, connect with our peers, and collaborate on what is best for children around the globe.