Thinking Schools Tigrai, Ethiopia
By Dagim Melese & Atsede Teshayou
We asked for what the school name Goha, and we were informed that Goha means illumination from rising sun. Goha-Got is isolated and remotely located primary school. Walking from the school to Adigrat (one of the towns of the Tigray region like Wukro, Aksum , Shire) takes 3-4 hours. It is extremely important again to note that one of the intelligent girls of the primary school who is representing the school for questions and answers competition in the Wereda had to walk to Adigirat to take part in the competition (this girl was the same girl who was very active in Atsedes demonstration lesson on a topic which is a reading comprehension in Tigrigna language education.
It is important to consider it is very difficult to have regular site visits done to Goha-Got Elementary School owing to the fact that the school is very isolated and remote. We drove ascending a giant mountain road twisting here and there on a pavement that is being strengthened by road construction workers. The journey up the mountain side was frightening and risky. Atsede noted about how frightening it was to ascend the twisting roads with a very high detour and the descending it on the other side of the giant mountain we traversed. Finally we reached the school after inquiring about it’s location multiple times.
We met the director and shared what we were there for and how the site visit is going to look like. We learned that there are a total of 20 teachers at the school and 9 teachers who were trained by the three of us (Atsede, Dagim and Robert) in Wukro. There is one ToT trainer from the school.
As usual we did a mini-professional development training in which we discussed The Fundamental Principles of the Thinking Schools Model and Research Basis of the Use of Visual Tools. Atsede then shared how she is going to do a demonstration lesson with 7th graders on a passage about the lives of neighbors who earn the same level of income but different life style with implications for the relative failure and success in terms of leading a happy life. The goal of the lesson being planning our lives, using resources wisely, saving.
Atsede also shared what she wants the teachers to observe (student’s engagement,
student’s writing of their own thoughts, examples, explanations), students collaborative work, and strategy of transferring Thinking Maps to all students through her modeling with students. She also shared that if the teachers have questions they need to write them in their notepads during the lesson and raise them during debriefing discussions after the lesson.
She followed the same pattern while doing the demonstration lesson (community building, modeling use of a Circle Map (brainstorming) with a student, having students work in pairs, then small groups and share later with the whole class where information was enriched, ideas were consolidated, concepts were further clarified.
She then modeled the use of Double Bubble map (compare and contrast). She used it with students and gave students a home work to complete the Bubble Maps between characters in the passage. Atsede then introduced all eight Thinking Maps for the students while teachers observing in the classroom. During the debriefing session teachers reported how supportive using Thinking Maps are.
Key Reflections and what we learned at Goha-Got which we will put to use for further refining the quality of upcoming site visits.
- It is very important that teachers understand how Thinking Maps support students thinking with content (what are teachers in the demonstration class for?), what are they looking for in the demonstration class?). Teachers would have, in most cases, been seen sitting on desks of the demonstration lesson classes, but are now learning how to walk around and help students construct the maps (change from teacher centered to student centered as directed by the Ministry of Education for quality education). We asked the teachers to walk around in the class to see what students have written, how rich are ideas generated, thoughts organized.
- How can we help teachers understand that students must practice regularly to clearly see what we say about the changes / results the use of Thinking Maps help bring about.
Other notes :
- There was a Woreda supervisor at the school who took part in the training.
- Students were evaluating their teachers when we arrived at the school. Students evaluation of their teachers makes up 15% of the overall teachers evaluation.
- We we returned back to Adigirat we drove along a different path which was on a plain surface, less risky and frightening.
- We were presented with some cabbages from the school garden as they were appreciative of our being there at the school for collaboration with the professional development.