Leadership Training: Thinking Schools Ethiopia & Initiative Africa

Principals collaboratively using Thinking Maps to develop and organize their ideas and thinking at the June 2013 training.

All Children Reading Initiative
In this blog posting:

  • an overview of the initiative
  • reflections from principals at the first 2 day training including video clip
  • specific methodologies being implemented with the initiative

The All Children Reading Initiative focuses on students thinking and reading (decoding, comprehension, thinking methodologies) including educators developing a reflective teaching practice through action research. Initiative Africa is collaborating with Thinking Schools Ethiopia on the implementation of the model project. The initial two day training with Principals from the 33 participating schools from 3 regions in Ethiopia was held in Addis Ababa in June 2013.

  • 11 schools in Amhara
  • 11 schools in Nazeret
  • 11 schools in Addis Ababa Gulele Sub-city

The specific practices that educators will be implementing include:

    • Growing Thinking Schools Ethiopia from the Inside Out approach includes Visual Tools (Thinking Maps), Collaborative Learning, Building Community, Thinking Environment, and Reflective Questioning. These approaches are the foundation of a whole school thinking approach developing a common approach with the whole learning community. The Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out model develops plans that support each schools specific needs in a whole school approach. The guide is currently used in English and Amharic.
    • Specific reading approaches including spelling (phonics and language patterns), language fluency (Sentence Transformation), and writing (sentence patterns and use of visual tools).
    • For educators:  Action Research; Collegial Coaching; Thinking Maps for planning and assessing.
    • Books published in the three key languages: Amharic, Oromigna, English
Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out guide in Amharic.
  • Teacher guides (professional development) published in the three key languages accompanied by a DVD (developed in Ethiopia with Ethiopian educators and students) to see the methods in action.

All methods need only minimal materials – either chalkboard and chalk or sand and drawing utensils are highly effective. The model includes regular professional development led by Thinking Schools Ethiopia trained facilitators including:

  • specific sessions on Action Research, Thinking Maps, Building Community, Spelling and Fluency
  • monthly school site visits to all schools during the school year (2013-1014) for on-site professional development
  • specific School Leadership training
  • collaborative trainings at school sites (two schools joining the host school)
  • use of media for ongoing training between in-person site visits

The Innovation
An Action Research Approach to Improving Student Reading Using Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) for reflective practices while implementing research based methodologies Including specific reading methods, Thinking Maps and others.

The Participants
Leadership teams from three regions representing eleven schools from each region as part of an All Children Reading grant. The first year will focus on the effectiveness of the model, building a body of action research, implementing research based thinking and reading methodologies, and developing whole school change.

The administrators and government education officials representing 33 schools shared reflective insights throughout the two day training. Some of the reflections at the end of the training include:

Thinking Schools Ethiopia Facilitator:
As you are leaders of different schools, I would like to know how this training was useful for your own work.
Atsede Tseheyer, Thinking Schools Ethiopia Facilitator 

The Training:
“What I understand from the two day training was, training can be fun with Thinking maps, experience sharing and reflections.”
Wosen Sileshi, Principal 

Collaborative Learning & Whole School Change:
“The training was helpful for school administrators too, it helps us to work with our staff collaboratively and come up with new ideas.”
Abenet Girma, Principal

Student Centered for Students — Participant Centered for Teachers and School Leaders:
“Starting from the trainers, I have seen how we should treat students and how this will affect their performance and their interest in coming to school.”
Zenebe Nigussie, Principal

Student Prior Knowledge, Thinking Methodologies, Smiles:
“Now I understand that students come to school with prior knowledge, how sentence transformation works and various tools to make class room interactive. The other important thing I notice was how powerful it is to welcome students every day and see them off at the end with smile.”
Tegegn Shimelash, Principal

Quality Education for All Children:
“The Thinking Maps will assist us in solving our fundamental problems by bringing quality education to all children.”

Milkias Bonke, Principal

Sharing, Spelling, Fluency, Collegial Collaborations:
“The main thing I got today is sharing experience from my colleagues and other schools. Secondly, I found different techniques how to teach spelling, fluency, thinking.”
Getasetegn Engida, Principal

“I can see it in two ways, one: it helps us to see what is available in our schools and outside of our school. Secondly; because previously a lack of teaching methodologies, students performance may be lowered. With thinking methodologies we can give them these tools to support the school team and students.”
Abraha Hailemariam, Principal


The Thinking Schools Ethiopia approach has been recognized by UNESCO as a method of modern pedagogy. Read more on an earlier blog posting. Thinking Schools Ethiopia trained the Addis Ababa Education Bureau experts team during a five day participant centered training in September 2012 on the practices of whole school change, Thinking Maps, Reflective Questioning, Thinking Environments, and Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out.