Mayi Ayni Elementary School

Thinking Schools Tigrai, Ethiopia

By Dagim Melese & Atsede Teshayou
We began the site visit at Mayi Ayni Elementary School with our conversations with the school leader Ato Amanuel since we arrived earlier than the set time for the conducting the professional development. In our conversations with the director we were shared the following existing level of implementation:

  • We were told that the schools top ten students were chosen for Thinking Maps training and were given Thinking Maps trainings as leaders.
  • Thinking Maps were required in lesson planning to be the pedagogical tools creatively employed for facilitating lessons in ALL subjects . Deputy director, Elsa Hadush, told us that she was observing classes where teachers were required to demonstrate their uses for facilitating students thinking with contents. She shared that there were observed three outstanding teachers in terms of competent uses of the maps. One of these, the teacher Gidey Embaye, was interviewed.
  • We were also shared that community building exercises were used and found helpful during assembly of students for singing the National Anthem and other events of the assembly.

mayi9Then since we still have enough time before we get ALL teachers together in a room for mini- professional development we were invited to observe teacher Gideys class which was being conducted.

Why was our day beautiful:
Gideys class made our day. We entered her class and observed students actually forming words in Tigrigna that begin with a given letter / alphabet in a circle of a bubble map. She first asked students to list all members of an alphabet in Tigrigna by writing on a blackboard. A student takes a chance and walks in front of the class to write all members of an alphabet , he tries exhausting writing all of them and he himself then gives a chance for any one of the girls in the class to continue with the writing of members of a different alphabet, then the girl alternatively assigns a boy, then a girl, followed by a boy…

mayi2Afterwards the task changes into forming words that begin with a letter: the letter being in the central circle of a bubble map , the bubbles then are filled with words whose initial letter is the letter in the central circles. Students were alternately changing chances on the basis of gender to accomplish tasks assigned to them. Then the teacher tried to draw a tree map with the different categories being the different letters of the alphabet. Students were actual alternatively taking chances to form different words under the different letters.

Key notes

  • mayi7Teacher Gidey had not take any of the trainings conducted in any of the phases. She was not exposed to the trainings the three of us facilitated. Seh learned from the Trainer of Trainer and other colleagues
  • She actually used a technique of alternatively using chances for eliciting students responses. Boys assigning tasks to girls whom they chose and girls assigning boys to tasks and so on.
  • The thinking maps and a pedagogical strategy was used instrumentally to support the attainment of goals of literacy.

We have seen different levels of impmayi3lementation so far in the form of transfer for other teachers who did not take visual tools trainings, portfolios of teachers using the maps in their class rooms, efforts of introducing the maps to students and bring about the awareness of the maps, but we have not seen as solid an outcome as these students actual demonstration of the mastery of vocabulary building, active, generative and productive engagement of their brains in the construction of knowledge of words and their classes.

It is important to mention here that deputy director Elsa shared that she was supporting the real class room uses of Think-Pair-Share as a strategy and Powerful Questions techniques.

mayi4We then began the theoretical discussion with community building exercises which we consolidated by facilitating participants reflective thinking about the community building exercises.

Then Atsede did a demonstration lesson on patriots and their deeds. She initially modeled the use of circle maps to brain storm about patriotism with a student and then asked students to work in pairs to do the same which was followed by whole group sharing of works in paired groups which she expanding using questioning .

She then modeled the use of bridge map for seeing the relationship between different patriots and their respective patriotic deeds.

During Debriefing

Teachers saw that:

  • mayi6The use of the bridge map was instrumental for facilitating collaborative groups learning.
  • Useful as a summarising tool.
  • Was shared that it saves time. It was noted that Atsede were able to use two different maps within short period of time.

Interview with Teacher Gidey revealed that:

  • Their use of the maps engages the students / students take more time during class room teaching and learning.
  • Students are motivated when the work using the maps / they are more interested when using the maps.
  • It is a powerful assessment technique.
  • Students mastery of a lesson is easily seen.


  • mayi12School Name : Mayi Ayni Elementary School
  • Directors Name : Amanuel Kidane
  • Deputy Directors Name : Elsa Hadush
  • Directors phone number : 0921989833
  • Deputy directors phone number : 0945492443
  • Total number of teachers : 23 including leadership
  • Trained Teachers : 11
  • ToT Trainer : 1

mayi1Thinking 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.


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