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.