We spent yesterday working for the second full day with our teacher trainers. It was fruitful, making deeper connections and finding other ways to agree on the matter of learner-based teaching. Starting at 8 AM we began with three hours more of workshops in our specialties: Robbi doing poetry, Justine computers and me working with theatre exercises aimed at opening these wonderful people to the world of creative risk through storytelling, movement and thinking outside their normal way. After lunch we went into groups designed by them to discuss issues of their job of training Rwandan teachers. These groups were formed by writing on the usual rice sacks (essential visual aids in Rwanda, and yes, they are heavy white plastic insides of 100 lb. sacks of rice about 3.5′ by 2 ‘ and are perfect for making posters). This was an “unconference”, to use Justine’s phrase. Justine put them on the wall and with markers and the trainers suggested the sessions in 6 slots, and quickly all 6 were filled. Topics ranged from classroom management to how to continue the English program further into the secondary school experience to parental involvement, introducing more critical thinking in classes and better uses of reviewing subjects for national exams. Sound familiar?
We were delighted that these colleagues in a country halfway round the world were so willing and interested in creating these sessions, and then amazed and sort of gratified that all teachers everywhere seem to be dealing with many of the same issues! These sessions had note takers and there was time to report back the good ideas discussed to handle these problems. Following this was the usual wrap up and a free discussion of anything that might set them up for next meetings and trainings and also anything that might help critique the event to help us get at more information going forward for both the trainers and those of us running the workshop. It was agreed by all that the day was highly productive.