Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Decisive Element

The public education system in Uganda is not known to promote participation and creativity. So we were not surprised when we began our 5-day Teacher Training, that our teachers, who have been through the Ugandan system, were shy when it came to sharing information and expressing their opinions. Compared to the dreamboat that was our Modules and Content Development (MCDC) workshop, the Teacher Training took a significantly larger amount of energy and patience. However, it also turned out to be significantly more rewarding. The growth we saw in each of the teachers’ enthusiasm, participation, and knowledge was truly incredible.

As we took our teachers through new teaching strategies, communication and conflict resolution activities, and the Holocaust case study, it was our job not only to impart content, but also to reinvigorate their sense of purpose and ability to positively influence tomorrow’s citizens and leaders.

In a system so burdened by regulations and results, teachers rarely have a sense of ownership in what and how they teach. It is nearly impossible for a teacher not to lose sight of what led them to teach in the first place- beliefs to which they must return and expand:

I am the decisive element in the classroom.

It is my personal approach that creates the climate.

It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous.

I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.

- (Haim Ginott, Teacher and Child)

Teaching is about the experience of each child. We look forward to improving the educational experience of the Ugandan child, as we continue to support and empower our teachers as they embark on classroom implementation.

Kaa Salama,


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