JSA: our model school

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Term one has flown by and what a great start to 2016 it has been. It’s been a busy but rewarding term with our mentor and modelling programme being in full swing. We have had visiting teachers from six different regions in Tanzania and we even had one group of teachers come all the way from Uganda to observe our teachers in action. The visiting teachers spent their mornings observing in the classrooms and then attended professional development seminars with the JSAl mentor teachers in the afternoons. Professional development focused on topics like valuing the child, group work and participation in the classroom.

Teacher Manase (pictured above with students) had many positive things to say about our mentoring and modelling programme in a recent interview:

Q: What do you think impacted visiting teachers the most?
A: There are a lot of things that impacted them, but the things that I remember is that they were impacted to see how much teachers interacted with students and the good relationships between the students and teachers; the way the teachers teach in the classroom; how the teacher can manage behaviour without even using a stick [physical discipline is very common in most government schools]; the way teachers greet the students; and how the students were not afraid to speak to the teachers: they have confidence to speak.

Q: What do you think is the main thing that makes JSA different from government schools?
A: What I think and what I see is because our school is a Christian school. And also at our school what we say is what we do. We have a lot of schools that call themselves Christian schools but when you go and see what they do it is very different to what they speak. At our school we say we are a Christian school and we try hard to show that we are a Christ centred school.

Q: What are some of the challenges of mentoring teachers?
A: Some of the teachers were old teachers so for the first few days they were afraid to observe the young teachers. Perhaps they have 20 years teaching experience and they see that they are to learn from teachers that have 3-5 years experience. So we found that the first few days they wanted to sit outside, but by the end of the week they wanted to stay another week. So I think their perspective was changed. They realised they had a lot of things to learn.

Q: What do you enjoy most about mentoring teachers?
A: I, myself, I enjoy that I grow. Because when new teachers come I have to work hard to show them something new which they need to learn, because you know I was thinking, these teachers have a lot of years of teaching and we are just new, so I thought what can I do to impact these teachers. So each day I teach I then go and I plan to do more than I did yesterday. I enjoyed hearing their ideas when I take the training, they were throwing out a lot of challenges that they face at their schools and I was giving them lots of straight answers which I can say was the Holy Spirit. I was getting the answers and they were like wow it is possible. So I am growing and teaching in different areas.

Q: When you visited the government schools (after they had been here), what changes did you see?
A: I saw a lot of changes. Really they have a lot more challenges than we have here. They don’t have resources; I can say they don’t have resources rather than not just enough because they had no resources. They had the problem of not having chalk to write with and paper to write on. But the teachers gave some money and they were able to buy some books and cut them in half. What I saw was that they faced challenges but they reached understanding of how they can solve their own challenges and go forward. And I saw group work in the classroom. I saw kids participating and I saw that the students were enjoying the lesson; they were giving the answers and sharing together. The kids were excited to do group work. It was new ways to them but they were doing a great job. I could see many things they learnt here being presented at their schools. The teachers said that the way we have been teaching for many years has been a great burden but with group work we are more free and the students are gaining more than they did before.

Not only have we had many visitors to our school; Lynda, Wendy, Rachel, Manase and Amani have also visited several schools to observe, give feedback and run professional development sessions.

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Above: visiting teachers take notes as Teacher Pina models a lesson. Below: Wendy and Pina conduct professional development with teachers from Uganda.

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