Zelalem Desta Elementary School
Thinking Schools Ethiopia – Tigray
Phase 3
School Site Visits

Students modeling the hand symbol representing the cognitive process of compare and contrast for a Double Bubble Map.
Students modeling the hand symbol representing the cognitive process of compare and contrast for a Double Bubble Map.
Teachers participating in the school site professional development actively involved with students on their learning and implementation of Thinking Maps.







Zelalem Desta Elementary School
By Dagim Melese and Atsede Teshayou
Photos and Video by Atsede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese
Zelalem Desta Elementary School is a long established school that was built in the Ethiopian Calendar year of 1947 (1954 Gregorian Calendar). There are 27 teachers teaching in the school . We were informed that due to lack of trained teachers the school had to call back retired teachers to work in the vacant capacities .


Of the 27 educators of the school approximately half of them took part in the two days Thinking Maps training held in October. There is only 1 Trainer of Trainer from the school who is at the same time the schools director. In October the Trainer of Trainers received an additional 4 days of Thinking Schools Ethiopia training including Thinking Maps, Community Building, Inquiry and Leadership skills.


We followed site visit procedures which includes mini professional development sessions, collegial coaching, classroom demonstration lessons which include teacher briefing and debriefing .

Play the video above of a student and Thinking Schools Ethiopia co-lead Country Trainer modeling the Circle Map (Thinking Maps) to students and many observing teachers.

The site visit included:

  • Lessons with the subject teachers while other teachers observing what is happening
  • introducing students with all eight Thinking Maps with their hand symbols and the cognitive processes they represent
  • Lessons were done with a content from a subject teachers would think difficult to use thinking maps to explore, analyze, compute, and discuss on and about.
  • We also were convinced that doing demo lessons with subject teachers collaborating with us is helpful to encourage them use maps in real classrooms .
  • A key observation was seeing Thinking Maps posted on walls of all classrooms which models the interest in whole school implementation by the Trainer of Trainer and school leader.


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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *