We are Feffa and Federica, both from Italy. Our work with DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) located at the Teacher Training College in Dowa is mostly related with the “Pre-School Project”.
After our investigation in the 12 pre-schools we work with in our area, we decided to develop two main Lines of action: the first one is related to the maintenance of the building – many of these structures are not good enough to welcome students and they need maintenance and caring. The second line is related to the organization and realization of the Teacher’s Training in which we will go through several topics which are the most meaningful for this sector. It is needed because most of the pre-schools are facing a lack of material in terms of books, methods of teachings and training for the teachers. Below we focus on our analysis of the Teacher Training along with our plan of what we will do about it;
The teacher’s training sessions that we host unite the teachers of the 12 preschools with whom we work around the Dowa district. The aim is to empower those teachers and to increase their skills towards better teaching techniques. To plan how to carry out the teacher’s training sessions, we decided to investigate about the needs of the teachers throughout questionnaires. In each school we gave one questionnaire to each teacher. The questions aimed to understand the needs of the teachers in each preschool and what they are expecting to learn in the teacher’s training sessions. Mainly, what emerged from the questionnaires is that they would like to know more new methodologies of teaching and to have skills on hygiene and security matters. Some of the teachers asked for the possibility of practical workshop on tailoring or how to create dolls. It is for these reasons that we decided to observe how a normal day of school is in those pre-schools and to investigate what we see as the main problems.
From the observation we understood that the main problem is teaching through memorization, which is applied in most pre-school and secondary schools; through a lack of materials and tools. Our main goal is to assist the teachers to eradicate the habit teaching through memorization because this method doesn’t help the children to develop their critical thinking which is necessary to understand this complex world. The process of critical thinking happens at different levels among individuals and its very important that teachers comprehend what critical thinking involves, how it should be taught and how it should be assessed. In conclusion, we would like to teach the care givers (teachers in the pre-schools) how to develop analytic, investigative, communication and evaluation skills in the children. Moreover, through the teacher’s training we want to support the communities with whom we are working, through practical workshops that will give the teachers the possibility to learn something new that can be spread by themselves in their community.
The idea born out from our believe that “sharing is caring” and that through the action to share, it is possible to spread useful practices that can support the communities to overcome certain problems in the long term. We have decided that the teacher’s training sessions will take a whole day from 8am to 3pm, once or twice a month.
It will be divided in two sections:
• Methodology of teaching (in the morning)
• Practical workshop (in the afternoon)
The methodology of teaching will be focused on the development and understanding of the critical thinking concept. To ensure a progressive change in the methodology of teaching, it is important to support the teachers to understand to necessity to use their knowledge and not just to repeat from books. This is a pillar of our teacher’s training because one of the main problems here it’s related to the lack of materials to teach. This means that it is important for the pre-school teachers to build the creativity that they can furthermore assist the children to develop the curiosity to learn, to ask and to reason what they are saying. In this section we include also a session on “how to prevent bad behaviour and how to deal with different characters of the students”.
The practical workshop will also be used to empower the practical skills of the teachers and their leadership skill. About the latter, we are planning to give the possibility to each teacher to lead a workshop in something useful to share with the others. The reason is to empower their leadership skills. The topics that will be touched upon are varied. They include recycling of materials to building up educational games; hygiene and first aid, environmental issues and solutions (bio-charcoal); nutrition skills to the creation of new songs that could help the teachers in teaching the students; for example, English.
CALENDAR AND CONTENTS OF THE TEACHER’S TRAINING
Methodology of teaching
Using grey soil; empower your own creativity and that of your students
Critical thinking concept
Not only teaching but also educating
Environmental consciousness on a community level
Hygiene and hand wash station
How to build a hand-wash station
Importance of structured lessons
Debates and how to act
Gardening and the importance of permaculture
New methodologies of teaching (educational path)
How to create a good relationship with the students
Learning by singing