JBFC’s Teacher Training

January 27, 2014 4:23 pm Published by

Editor’s Note: Last week, we told you some exciting news – our Form 2 students (US equivalent 9th grade), in their first year to sit for the Tanzanian national exams, passed with flying colors outscoring every other Form 2 student in our district. This week’s blog from Administrative Director Melinda Wulf talks about the foundation JBFC lays to make that kind of student success possible. And it all starts with our teachers.

 Each year, we spend the two weeks before school starts hosting a teacher development. This is an opportunity that teachers at other schools in Tanzania don’t have. We use our own experience, and bring in experts and materials to help our teachers learn and grow as educators.

This year we are lucky enough to have an educator specializing in literacy with us, Tracy Todd.
Tracy’s background, along with materials provided to us by Sarah Lawrence College’s Childhood Development Institute, helped kick this year’s teacher development off on a strong note.

Day one included a discussion with the teachers about taking your classroom outside and learning from nature and the environment around us. I can’t think of a better atmosphere to implement a program like that.

Thinking back to my grade school experience, the most exotic animal we had exposure to was a third grader’s pet porcupine that was brought in for show and tell. The only flowers we had on the playground were dandelions.

These kids have rows of banana trees to learn from, fences lined with passion fruit, and eggplants the size of your head. They get to witness the birth of baby pigs, pluck a chicken, and learn anatomy from a butchered cow.

On day two of teacher development, we had a discussion about values and setting good examples for the students. As we discussed a key value, cooperation, one of our secondary teachers Mr. Cornelly piped up with a suggestion.

We could show the students a bee hive and talk about how the bees work together as a group to create honey. It was a simple suggestion, but it was exciting to see the message from the day before stick with the teachers.

I talked to the teachers at Joseph and Mary about the school clubs we want to have this upcoming school year. Permaculture is a huge initiative at JBFC, not only does it help sustain us, but it teaches our kids skills they can use later in life to provide for their families. So, of course we want to have a permaculture club, no 80s pop band pun intended.

Again, Mr. Cornelly was very excited about the potential of teaching agriculture in the classroom, and then taking them outside to see it in nature. To allow the students to experience it firsthand, rather than read or be told about it is one of the great benefits of JBFC.

We are hopeful these teachings, plans and discussions will carry into the classrooms and ultimately provide an incredible educational experience for our students- one that would otherwise be unattainable in Tanzania!

Blogger Melinda Wulf is JBFC’s Administrative Director.

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This post was written by Mainsprings