TSE Potential Facilitators Training Underway…

By: Selfago Fuse

The second round of training with master facilitators/educators, on Saturday March 24 morning, was thoughtfully engaging and practically showing the BIG PICTURE of the educational transformation conceived to be realized throughout the City of Addis Ababa and Ethiopia respectively. Master Facilitators/Educators, Thinking Schools Ethiopia Program leader, Bereket Aweke and the international trainer Robert Price (via Skype) were thoughtfully engaged in exchanging their thoughts and expertise on how to knock the needy school doors so as to start the journey to actualized the fore seen big picture by applying the workable theories and its fruitful experiences locally and internationally. The training facilitators were exchanging thoughts and their mind felt professional feelings on how to make the change happen in the nation. More over the insightful professionals had an introductory session on the Six Starting Points for Thinking Schools.

Photos include the collaborative use of Thinking Maps by Robert Price with the potential master facilitators via Skype.

‘Community Building ‘‘Modeling Behavior’ and ‘Reflective Questioning’ were some of the frequently uttered phrases by the professionals in the hall.  

Many Reflections were forwarded and powerful questions were posed by the participants and the training facilitator in Addis Ababa who were gathered in Eminence Social Entrepreneurs. Some of the questions posed were:  

Why starting points for thinking? Why thinking School…

These were ideas based on the training manual (used with Thinking Schools Ethiopia whole school training) titled as “Growing Thinking Schools from The Inside Out”.  The trainer and the participants thoroughly discussed and scholarly reflected on the issues.

Structuring Environment
with Intentionality

Structuring Environment

considering how the physical space is organize and resources used

How the classroom, school, and surrounding area is physically structured has a great affect on teaching and learning. Positioning of students on the floor, seating arrangements in the classroom, and the accessibility of learning materials are all dimensions of the environment. The use of all the resources available within and around the school and wider community is key to engaging students.

A key to the success of Thinking Schools Ethiopia is consideration of Structuring Environment with intentionality. When developing the ‘classroom environment’ consideration is made to what best supports student learning.

The three video clips below Thinking Schools Ethiopia educators and students engage in discussions and modeling of classroom structures. How do the educators and students reflections compare with one another?

Another key component of Structuring Environment is using materials around us to guide our learning which we’ll explore in a later blog posting. Some suggested extensions include the Reggio Emilia approach and The Third Teacher, a recent book from the Internationally know designer Bruce Mau. Both connect and explore the critical link between the school environment and how children learn. The Reggio Emilia approach has a long history of implementation with extensive documentation and research supporting its success.

The images below – from Thinking Schools Ethiopia professional development trainings – models educators part of participant centered learning where they their experiences model approaches they will transfer for use in the classroom.

As with all six starting points of thinking, it is important to implement each area with a goal of mastery in a thoughtful manner, while seeing the big picture of how they interconnect in a systems approach of whole school transformative design change. Structuring Environment is part of the initial 2 day Growing Thinking Schools training where schools initially understand, reflect and vision on their whole school transformative design. Additionally Thinking Schools Ethiopia offers trainings specific to Structuring Environment as part of the whole school transformative design change process.


Ground Breaking Workshop

By: Edda Zekarias

Eminence Social Entrepreneurs corridors were buzzing with the delighted sounds of enlightened education experts yesterday, March 8, 2012.

Except the handful that already had had opportunities to attend Thinking Schools workshops or training, what to expect was clearly vague to some.

The introduction by Dr. Hyerle highlighted Thinking Schools mission and goals supported by demonstrated successes achieved across countries in which the program has been implemented.  Thinking Maps concepts and practical application opportunities were also presented briefly through sharing examples of work done by students starting from Kindergarten right up to the advanced Sciences and even tertiary level education. Moreover, the presentation revisited information accessibility and utility while reflecting on how that factor affects teacher-student relations in contexts where the latter sustain traditional educating systems. This would mean that, teachers and educators in general would have to remember, acknowledge and accept that students have seemingly infinite sources of information at their disposal. Hence instead of seeing that as a threat, use it to their advantage so as not to stifle student quest for learning and earning knowledge.

In seeking to move away from traditional methods of learning—most notably, the lecture oriented, one way learning—Thinking Schools advocates for creating better thinkers, problem solvers, and much more. Rather appealing for Ethiopia considering, Dr. Hyerle had started off his discussion by sharing the infrastructural transformation he had seen upon his arrival to Ethiopia. In linking this transformation with the country, Dr. Hyerle brought focus on the Thinking Schools International ‘more than training…we transform’ approach which left the participants analyzing those capacities in human skill development. Aside from just looking into the functionalities of a whole school system, documentation was another fundamental point that Dr. Hyerle raised. In this he noted that, the bi-directional experience sharing mode that TSI has used internationally would be used within TSE. Accordingly, videos and other documentation would be used to reach teachers in all corners of Ethiopia—an approach he mentioned has greatly encouraged and enriched teachers and learners. For instance, imagine documentation going from successful Ethiopian classrooms as training materials in South Africa or Malaysia.

Dr. Hyerle also noted that Thinking Schools and Maps are not limited to the schooling system but rather have been applied in big corporations around the world.

Ato Bereket presented Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) past achievements, present status (2009-2011) as well as future prospects. Embarking on years of research and successes achieved by TSI, he noted, TSE was modeled under the principles and approaches put forward by TSI but crafted for implementation in Ethiopia according to existing realities. Challenges, the good and the changeable were all covered in the presentation. Trainings and workshops thus far conducted were touched upon followed by brief breakdown of upcoming strategies and partnerships. Mentioning collaboration and support rendered by the Addis Ababa Education Bureau and the UNESCO-IICBA; Bereket thanked the organizations and also explained their interventions. Currently, TSE is working on a selection of 30 schools within Addis Ababa that will participate in the pilot training after which plans forecast summer/ long school break/ teacher training project and an Education Conference. Most importantly, he also added that TSE will consider learning among special needs students as well.

In the discussions that followed, Ato Dilamo Otore (Addis Ababa Education Bureau) thanked Eminence for taking the initiative to partner with TSI in the creation of TSE. He disclosed the teaching-learning approach changes that have been made available for government schools, adding that a number of trainings have been given to teachers. This however did not guarantee immediate positive outcomes, and hence TSE would serve as a medium to assist in filling the gaps still troubling the system. As part of the notable success in the new government undertaking, Ato Dilamo said that students are engaged in a group-thinking and working approach that is used both in and out of the classroom. He also pledged support to TSE throughout the coming endeavors and said that starting with leadership being key, the initial spark had been ignited through the diverse pool of decision makers that were present at the workshop.

UNESCO-IICBA, Program Officer, Dr. Awol shared what he understood as immediate and long term benefits of incorporating Thinking Schools approaches locally, he outlined the disadvantages that come with what he called ‘competition vs. cooperation’ trends that dominate local school setups. Further, he stressed the need to build a common understanding around ‘ideas that matter’. In so doing he noted, diversity, cooperation, value(s), changing roles due to clear understanding and sharing of knowledge, etc would become more integrated and practiced in individual, human to human, human to environment and even national relations.  He also expressed contentment over the evolution of TSE, initially having focused on private schools, but now, the outreach having been extended to government schools.

In the end, concerns about coverage and ensured practical applications were raised for which it was responded that TSI experiences for pre and post implementation monitoring and evaluation would be used as lessons for implementing TSE. For instance, select ‘best’ teachers would be identified for training with the leadership team. These teachers would in turn be expected to train and also monitor implementation so that each school would have in-house expertise as opposed to external periodic supervision and monitoring. School leadership-teacher trainers-curriculum developers- teachers-students have been the foundation of the education system in Ethiopia. Using this as a guiding framework, training would be conducted by TSE to ensure all of the stakeholders understand and own the program and this would include the parents as well.

In the closing, Dr. Awol and Ato Dilamo expressed great support and commitment towards TSE and pledged to render support as would be required. Dr. Hyerle was also thanked and applauded for coming to Ethiopia and sharing his vision for the program. In conclusion, Ato Bereket thanked all of the participants mostly highlighting the support given by Dr. Awol and Ato Dilamo in collaborating the presence of the experts at the workshop.

The workshop was attended by delegates from several sub city education bureaus, AAEB, Save the Children Norway, UNICEF, IICBA-UNESCO.

Dr.Awol Endris Progam Officer,UNESCO/IICBA
Opening the workshop, Ato Tesfaye Alemu CEO& President, Eminence SE
Ato Dilamo Otore Addis Ababa Education Bureau Head

Taking Academic Institutions on Board

By: Bereket Aweke

David Hyerle met with Ato Wondwosen Tamrat, President of one of Ethiopia’s upcoming prominent private institution of higher learning—St. Mary’s University. A fruitful discussion ensued on how St. Mary can become a center of excellence for Thinking Schools.  It was very encouraging to find an auditorium full of students, teachers and university leadership, 120 in total, waiting to hear all about Thinking Schools International concepts and experiences.

More info coming soon.

TSI meets AAEB

By: Edda Zekarias

David Hyerle Ed.D, Thinking Schools International Co-Director met with Ato Dilamo Otore, Head of the Addis Ababa Education Bureau. In the discussions, levels of implementation were greatly highlighted at the end of which strategies were crafted. Explained, the strategy will start with training experts from AAEB itself along with the ten sub-city leadership. Following, school leadership /principals etc/ will take awareness creation training after which the implementation of the program in the pilot schools will be on a strong foundation. The highlight of the meeting was an agreement for Eminence SE to host a half-day workshop this coming Thursday, March 7th 2012 in which senior delegates from the bureau and the sub-city leadership will be attending. In the discussion, Ato Tesfaye Alemu, CEO of Eminence Social Entrepreneurs and Bereket Aweke coordinator of Thinking Schools Ethiopia were present.

Eminence Staff get a briefing from Thinking Maps Author, David Hyerle

By: Edda Zekarias

‘Thinking, network, creativity’ and ‘improve problem solving’ were some of the terms that Dr. Hyerle used to brief Eminence staff on the concept of Thinking Schools International /TSI/ and what has been achieved and could be expected once implemented. In the briefing, he said that TSI was a result of experiences in the 1980s US educational revolution which initiated a wave of thinking pattern necessities that eventually changed schooling systems. As more refining came about, thinking was infiltrated into schools and organizations focused on creative and productive skills development and so forth.  He shared some success stories from projects in Malaysia and South Africa where support for Thinking Schools approach has been overwhelming and greatly encouraging.

Thinking Schools coming to Ethiopia through Eminence was also noted as a good collaboration between TSI and Eminence. He noted the benefits of having a comprehensive company as Eminence would facilitate the process mentioning the training and media department engagements in the areas of product development /publications, videos, software development, etc/ to assist with the program. Not only limited to the schooling environment, he added that Thinking Schools approach has been used in huge corporations and businesses and could have like potential in Ethiopia and beyond.

Dr. David Hyerle – Thinking Maps Developer Visiting Thinking Schools Ethiopia in Addis Ababa 3-8 March 2012

2 March 2012
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

Dr. David Hyerle, Thinking Maps® developer, Thinking Schools International co-director and Thinking Foundation founder, will be visiting Thinking Schools Ethiopia (Eminence Social Entrepreneurs) next week on March 3-8, 2012. During this visit, he will meet and discuss the Thinking Schools Ethiopia project and Thinking Maps with select government officials and partners from the government and private sectors. This includes experts and leaders from Addis Ababa Education Bureau, Ministry of Education, NGOs and major Ethiopian universities. Dr. Hyerle will be visiting government schools in Addis Ababa and doing public presentations in addition to the above meetings. He will be arriving from South Africa where he participated in last weeks Thinking Schools South Africa conference. For additional information on Dr. Hyerle’s visit, please contact Bereket Aweke, Thinking Schools Ethiopia coordinator (select contacts in the menu).

David Hyerle, EdD, is an author, researcher, seminar leader, and keynote speaker focused on integrating content learning, thinking process instruction, and collaborative leadership across whole schools. He is founding director of the Thinking Foundation www.thinkingfoundation.org, a nonprofit organization supporting research in cognitive and critical thinking development for the purpose of creating thinking schools nationally and internationally.

Download the complete article as a PDF file.

The creation of his Thinking Maps® model emerged from his experiences as a middle school teacher in inner city Oakland, California, USA. His development of Thinking Maps® was also informed by his work with the Bay Area Writing Project and the Cognitive Coaching model.

Among his numerous professional books and articles based on visual tools research, David wrote the foundational training materials for Thinking Maps and guided the professional development process with Thinking Maps, Inc. The Thinking Maps model is used across the United States and the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, Ethiopia, South Africa and many other countries. David co-wrote the training guide Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership and edited Student Successes With Thinking Maps, a professional book presenting background research and documenting the professional development outcomes from the implementation of Thinking Maps.
Video above to the right is a short trailer from upcoming documentary  Minds of Mississippi – an extraordinary story about students and a whole school district on thinking…

David is co-director with Richard Cummins of Thinking Schools International that currently has projects in United Kingdom (over 400 schools), Norway, South Africa, Malaysia, Ethiopia and other countries. www.thinkingschoolsinternational.com.

David earned a doctorate and bachelor’s at the University of California–Berkeley and has served as a visiting scholar at the Harvard School of Education.

In the video below David Hyerle interviews a Special Needs student on her use of Thinking Maps and writing about Dr. Martin Luther King.
See the complete case study on Learning Prep.

Dr. David Hyerle interviews high school students in the United Kingdom on use of Thinking Maps.

Thinking Maps® in Kawasaki City, Japan.

Thinking Maps in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.