Intensive training for teachers in Bo

Carl Zammit provided two days of intensive training for teachers in Bo

This visit was designed to deliver training workshops for primary and secondary school teachers and also to establish links between teachers in Bo and Freetown.

I visited Bo between the 21st-24th August and was greeted on arrival by Maada, John Sandie and around 8 other members of OWL Bo who were incredibly helpful in rallying teachers for the workshops. The teachers deserve so much credit for coming – it was terrible weather (rainy season) and most were working at summer schools in the mornings. Despite this, around 25-35 attended on both days.

The first day started with some philosophising and discussion about the roles of teachers; what personalities, characteristics, and skills students should have on leaving school. This debate and feedback session went a long way in allowing different ideas from different types of teachers be exchanged it was a very fruitful and animated discussion.

We then considered the merits of student centred learning as opposed to the more regimented, rote learning that is common across much of Sierra Leone. We invented stories, made and played top trumps, worked out Sudoku problems, and played various versions of dominoes among other things! They also learned how to produce the learning resources in an easy and sustainable way to build up resource stores at their school. We rounded off the first workshop with lesson planning.

The second day focused on starter activities (including the adapted classics of hangman, bingo, categories and other puzzles) whic
h were aimed at engaging the students at the start of each lesson (the most important or ‘golden 5 minutes’). We also discussed behaviour strategies including alternatives to the cane that focus on rewarding good behaviour as opposed to punishing the bad. The teachers shared some great ideas with each other and many said that they wanted to adopt a house system in their school for merits. Finally we played some more games to promote student centred learning.

I have contacted many of the teachers since then and hope to build on the relationships. One way I am doing this is by creating 2 facebook groups – the Sierra Leone Teaching Zone and the Sierra Leone Learning Zone (the former for teachers, the latter for students). By updating with new resources, ideas, quotes, links to websites, and quizzes, I hope to keep conversing and equipping the teachers and students.

All in all it was a very fruitful trip and I can’t thank enough all the people that helped set it up. A special mention to the OWL centre caretaker Mohammed who was unbelievably helpful and cheery!