Thinking Schools Ethiopia Tigray
Reports from the Field
Wolkayt Woreda Primary and Secondary Schools

Thinking Schools Ethiopia, Thinking Foundation, Initiative Africa
Year 1 • 2015-2016/2007-2008 • Monthly Report
Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out:  Empowering Young Girls: Building Communities
Westwrn Zone, Wolkayt Woreda
Report written by Berihu Alay (COC) • November, 2015 • Humera

The objectives and strategies for the quality improvement of general education during the forthcoming years have been clearly spelled out by the MoE in the General Education Quality Improvement Package (GEQIP). The package is composed of a number of components and sub-components which are complementary to each other and form part of an integrated school effectiveness model.

The strategy have made devised system of assessing, upgrading and certifying quality of education delivery of schools as well as professional capacity of all staff in the education system. However challenges are threatening the successful practice of these policy intentions. The Tigrai regional Bureau of education and TDA believe the introduction and effective and efficient implementation of the project “Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out –Empowering Girls Building Communities” , Educational ideology, which is currently being proven within the international school communities around the world, to have a significant accelerating effect in transforming the quality of provision of education in Tigrai Schools.

Thinking Schools Ethiopia – Tigray is a collaboration of Tigray Development Association and Thinking Foundation for 37 model schools in 12 Woredas located in all  7 zonal administrations with funding administered by Initiative Africa for a Girl’s Empowerment Whole School Change grant from Sida (Swedish Development Agency) that began as a grass roots project by Robert Seth Price along with lead country trainers Atsede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese. Read the chapter on Ethiopia in the Corwin Press book Pathways to Thinking Schools.

wolkayt negash primary school3

The approach of Thinking Schools is a systems approach that uses lifelong thinking and problem solving methods that support deeper understanding and methods of sharing understanding including students, teachers, leadership and parents. This includes secondary, elementary, across all disciplines and supports special needs. The Thinking Schools approach provides an equal opportunity for all students regarding of gender to develop their thinking skills equally for mutual understanding and success. Additionally, the methods are skills that parallel tools an entrepreneur would use to develop and succeed with all students’ professional development.

In wereda Wolkayt, three schools are targeted under this project. These are Getachew Azenaw Secondary School, Negash Primary School and Teshome Primary School.

After the TOT training given for top performing teachers, schools have been accomplished different activities to implement the objectives by accepting the rational of the project. It is believed that the rational for implementation of Thinking Schools Ethiopia is that lifelong skills for use with problem solving in school, life and work for students, educators, school leaders and parents which is vital for growing school community in particular and the whole school system in general.

Hence, target schools have accomplished different activities in the last three weeks. In Nov, 05, 06 and 08, 2015 all the target schools (Getachew Azenaw Secondary School, Negash Primary School and Teshome Primary School respectively) have given trainings for teachers. (See photos if necessary)

Wereda Education Leaders
The role of the wereda education head and management experts has taken a lions position in leading the target schools to give trainings for their teachers in their schools. A meeting with management committee has been held on 03/11/2015 and we gave directions for target schools to plan action plans and give trainings.

wolkayt group meeting

Getachew Azenaw Secondary School
wolkayt getachew secondary school
In this secondary school, all the trained teachers and the TOT trainers together have made an open discussion on how to give training for all teachers of the school. Based on this, they have assigned different committees. (See their minutes). Besides, they have discussed on the action plan prepared by the school director. Then they have all agreed to give the training based on the scheduled time.

wolkayt getachew secondary school2
Teachers of Getachew Azenaw Secondary school community building exercise.
wolkayt getachew secondary school3
Teachers of Getachew Azenaw Secondary school community building exercise.

During the training session, all the responsible trainer teachers have been led the training and all teachers in the school have been participated. The eight different thinking maps have been posted at any angle of the school and discussed in detail.

wolkayt getachew secondary school4

Participants were satisfied and they reflected that they are committed to implement these maps in their class rooms to ensure quality education with clear understanding of the rational of the project.

wolkayt getachew secondary school5
Personal Frames of Reference.

Negash Primary School
Similarly in Negash primary school, TOT trainers with other trained teachers have prepared an action plan and assigned committees to implement the training. Besides, this school has prepared a budget.

wolkayt negash primary school1

Hence, they have accomplished the training with a much needed manner and all trainees have decided to implement the project in their school in general and the THINKING MAPS in their class rooms in particular.

wolkayt negash primary school2

Teshome Primary School
In this school similarly with other target schools, have planned an action plan assigned committees based on the direction given by the top leaders of the wereda education office and me (IEGRS project COC). Therefore, they have given the training for all concerned teachers.

wolkayt teshome primary school3

Tesfa Birihan Secondary School
Whole Staff Professional Development
Addis Ababa Government School

12308881_968501049890665_1772976399_nThe training descriptive that follows is part of the Thinking Schools Ethiopia Addis Ababa government schools project that includes 6 city model laboratory schools and 6 rural model laboratory schools near Addis Ababa.

by Atsede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese
co-country lead facilitators
The training with Tesfa Birihan Secondary School on the 27 November 2015, was a one day training on Thinking Maps . It involved 115 participants constituting the whole staff of the school.  The participants included teachers, teacher professional development experts, deputy directors, and the support staff  including accounts, store keepers, cashiers, people of the pedagogical centre. The goal of the training was to introduce whole staff with Thinking Maps and initiate whole school use with implementation of the maps in the classrooms for students and with the staff for leadership.

12305573_969500083124095_1251699250_nThe training began with community building exercises (e.g. commonalities) which was followed by work on personal frames of references (which was modeled by Atsede Tsehayou, the country co-lead facilitator).  Atsede collaborated with participants in the training including the vibrant educator Marta. They modeled Think – Pair – Share:

  • first Teacher with Student,
  • then Student with Student,
  • then the whole group in pairs.

Participants were then asked to read and reflect on page 25 of the Growing Thinking School guide (a page on Comparison between Thinking and Traditional Students), and asked to share observations on the validity of the comparison given their experiences. This was later followed by a brief introduction of the Thinking 12283006_968497566557680_1349611696_nSchool Model and communication on the emphasis of the days training:  Thinking Maps .

Thinking Maps were introduced with their hand symbols. We modeled the use of one of the Thinking Maps. Subsequently participants were first asked to use general topics to be explored by all 8 maps and next organised into departments and worked on subject relevant topics .

Observations during the training include:

  1. Vibrant school leader – Ato Yohannes Asefa sees the value of the work and is excited to regularly collaborate with Thinking Schools Ethiopia.
  2. 12319604_968516576555779_1109016025_nTeachers shared that one day is not enough. They said they need to master the use of the maps if they are to transfer the maps to their students. So more training in the maps for mastery was requested.
  3. The sub-city supervisor was accidentally there at the school where witnessed and was appreciative to see the teacher attending training on Thinking Maps as shared by the school leader Yohannes.
  4. The educators were serious and purposeful. They were seriously engaged and really trying to exercise using Thinking Maps.