Eminence Social Entrepreneurs Conducts Thinking Schools Ethiopia Training at Cheffie Primary School

Astede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese
Eminence Social Entrepreneurs / Thinking Schools Ethiopia Facilitators

Thinking School Ethiopia, part of Eminence Social Entrepreneurs, conducted a  two days training on Growing Thinking  School from the Inside Out model for the whole staff of Cheffe Primary School on December 6 and 7 , 2014. All educators, about 69 in number, from all departments (Language, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and Arts) and self-contained teachers of the school took part in the training. The training constituted part of a second phase of a whole school transformational change process planned to be executed, through concerted efforts of Addis Ababa Education Bureau (AAEB) and Eminence Social Entrepreneurs, with the aim of creating 10 models of the “thinking school” approach in Yeka and Bole sub cities of the city of Addis Ababa.

The hands on, intensely collaborative training which was intermittently mixed with community building exercises (exercises that refresh, energize, stir the mind, and build a sense community and togetherness) was observed to be engaging, yielding and productive.  The participants were essentially the real actors in the training. Indeed, the thinking school model is particularly unique relative to other educational professional development models in that it demonstrates its defining motto that states “we walk the talk”.  The other important element of the training sessions was the call for participants’ observations to think about what is being done in each of the steps in progress which was meaningful for both the trainees and training facilitators as it elucidates upon the impact that is being felt.

The first day training (On Saturday, Dec.6, 2014) engaged the trainees to consolidate upon  the goal of Cheffie Primary School by helping them  reflectively see what  the school does so as to draw on its vision, goals, its achievements , and useful practices in a journey towards growing a thinking school. Moreover, the educators were also given opportunities to explore and converse on path ways of thinking that included topics on cognitive processes, learning modalities, dispositions, creativity, and enquiry methods.  Subsequent on the highly interactive discussions on the issues related to the aforementioned topics took place a brief introduction of Thinking Processes Maps which are visual-verbal tools graphically representing fundamental cognitive processes.

The following day (Sunday, Dec.7, 2014) was devoted for intensive exercises on the use of visual tools particularly on the use of Thinking Maps. Brief introduction on the eight (8) Thinking Maps, the universal cognitive processes they represent and their respective uses was followed by modeling of their actual use by TSE facilitators: Astede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese . Trainees were later given opportunities to apply the use of Thinking Maps in their subject area specializations being in collaborative learning groups. Representatives of each group were finally asked to present the works of their groups for the whole group so as to create learning and thinking environment in which observations, different ways of thinking (perspectives), conversations, discussions and synthesis of ideas occur.  Finally, participants were asked to reflect on the overall two days training.

On-Site School Visit to Cheffie Primary School

Atsede Tsehayou – Thinking Schools Ethiopia Country Trainer 

As part of the steps with the Thinking Schools Ethiopia model, On-Site School Visits are made to each school.  A site visit to Cheffie Primary School, one of the ten Addis Ababa Education Bureau model Thinking Schools occurred on Thursday, December 17, 2014. Community building exercises were practiced by their physical education teacher and students as well during our visit.

 community building

The objective of the site visit was to introduce both the verbal and hand symbols of thinking maps to all students of Cheffee on one hand and to give explanation of the use of each maps on the other hand.

Grade 8 students observed and examined that thinking maps show clarity and simplicity in terms of communicating and understanding conceptual contents.

Grade 7 and 8 Students were using and sketching Thinking Maps in their exercise books and tried to connect the hands symbol of Thinking Maps with their meaning and importance .


Pre k students were also able to use their thinking abilities and participate with their teacher on the use of the maps.


The overall observation and reflection of my visit to the school was exciting and surprising because of all the fabulous movements and discussions happened within three days after the whole staff (70+ teachers and school leaders) training of Cheffie Primary School. The whole staff training was the two day initial Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out training on Thinking Schools including using visual tools (Thinking Maps).

Cheffie Primary
Whole School Staff Thinking Schools Training
Addis Ababa Education Bureau

Dagim Melese – Thinking Schools Ethiopia Country Trainer

Thinking School Ethiopia, part of Eminence Social Entrepreneurs, recently conducted a second phase training , a whole school staff training at school sites, for the staff of 71 educators at Cheffie Primary School on December 6 and 7 , 2014. Cheffie takes the lead as one of the ten pilot schools engaging itself in a plan of whole school transformational process in which the quality of education is advanced via facilitating the expertise of school leadership and its educators. The vibrant instructional leadership team from Cheffe plans to implement tools, strategies, and techniques its educators are equipped with entrenching it in its day to day practices. Students are already being introduced to the use of visual tools – Thinking Maps – and the teachers have began using Thinking Maps to actually facilitate students thinking and learning in their classes. Below are some participants reflections from Cheffie training.
Dagim Melese 

Andinet Yemer
Mathematics and Science Teacher
This training is very different from the other trainings we took. It is different in that it is practical and applicable. Some of the thinking maps have already been in use in biology now we have learned how to use them in other subjects and in such departments as social studies and language departments. More importantly, we have learned how we could educate our students without making learning boring for our students. We have taken experiences from the training. We have now learned how to better educate our students. We have seen how we actually use the thinking maps in our respective departments.  We will be glad if the organization (Eminence Social Entrepreneurs) follows and monitors the implementation of what we got from the training.

Daniel Galo
English Teacher
This is not my first time taking this training. I took the training that was meant for the instructional leadership team of 10 selected schools at Kokebe Tsibia Primary School last June, 2014. Secondly, I took the training given to the department heads of this school by Atsede and Dagim.  This is my third time taking the training with the whole teaching staff. I have learned from the training that, traditionally it was a teacher that provides contents for students .T he teacher provides information, generates ideas and thoughts without the students playing active roles but now we have seen ways of allowing students share ideas, generate thoughts on their own and actively participate in class room learning.  We have seen that the training is participatory and engaging.

When I introduce the visual maps, my students were very happy. It was easy to introduce the visual maps for the students. Visual maps were also very important to engage and allow participation of students. I have observed how visual maps allow students to generate ideas on their own from many different vantage points while working in collaborative learning groups. They allow students to express their ideas freely. Visual tools allowed the participation of all kinds of learners including those who were shy and not active. The visual maps are useful for ensuring the attainment of quality education. I believe that our school is going to be able to move forward working together with Eminence Social Entrepreneurs (ESE) and achieve.

Getinet G/Michael
Teachers’ Professional Development Deputy Director
In the two days of Thinking Schools Training our school educators got a better understanding of their roles as facilitators of students learning and thinking.  The training also addresses one of the issues of educational professional development which the government deals with is active learning and the challenges surrounding it. And it is relevant that Eminence Social Entrepreneurs provides us with support by addressing the needs of active or student centered learning. The major goal of the training is addressing teacher education needs and the challenges of implementing student/learner centered approaches.  The training was extremely useful for our educators. The next step will be the follow up and monitoring of the implementation of what we got from the training. We will do this in collaboration with TSE facilitators.  We will try to address the challenges of achieving quality education working in collaboration with Eminence Social Entrepreneurs (ESE).