Uganda – the Pearl of Africa
This beautiful country is still recovering from the ravages of conflict in the 1970s and debt in the 1980s, whilst still being riddled with corruption and inequality. This leads to Uganda being one of the poorest countries in the world, there are many teachers working hard on the chalk face to improve life chances for their students.
I am lucky to be part of the Kasubi Link Group, an organisation which supports around 30 primary and secondary schools in Kampala in working together for mutual benefit. In 2017 geography teachers from this group were successful in setting up the first overseas branch of the Geographical Association and in October 2018 they organised a day’s geography conference which was attended by over 50 teachers.
Both myself and my colleague Seb were delighted to be asked to deliver workshops at the conference alongside Ugandan speakers from Makerere University and the Kampala Capital City Authority. Good Times School hosted the event, providing lunch and a stunning dance extravaganza to mark the end of the day.
It is particularly nerve wracking to present to a Ugandan audience – no one smiles at you as these matters are taken very seriously! English is the official language in Uganda, but East African English has developed to be quite different in pronunciation from the English I speak. I began my first workshop on Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction and used visuals by the wonderful Oliver Caviglioli to help get my points across (see https://www.olicav.com/#/powerpoints/ ). I explained the first step – reviewing previous learning – then asked the delegates to talk to each other to share ideas of how they do this in their classrooms.
As I stepped into the audience to see how their discussions were going I was aware that, whilst some had a good idea of the points I had made and were happily sharing ideas, others were sat quietly, looking bemused. How could I get everyone involved?
After a few minutes I asked the group if there was anyone who would share their ideas with the whole group. A couple of people shared quick points, but then a wonderful woman got to her feet, grabbed a piece of chalk and explained to everyone in the room how she uses review activities in her classroom and new ideas she had gained from her discussion. Her clear explanation of the theory in East African English and here application of this to her own practice meant that the whole room was involved and interested.
From that point on I introduced the next Principle of Instruction, then handed over to the delegates. Those willing to share come up to the blackboard and share included an IGCSE geography and economics teacher, a secondary geography teacher and a primary teacher. Two of these wonderful presenters were young women, one a young man.
By the end of the session everyone had a clear idea of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction and how they could use these in their classrooms. They had each created an action plan including ideas to try in the next week, month and year. After the workshop the serious-faced delegates broke into wide smiles and expressed their delight at the session – phew!
Sometimes we get the chance to step out of our comfort zone – sometimes this leads to discomfort! However, new experiences lead to new learning and collaboration can help us to overcome many obstacles. I look forward to continuing to work with my amazing Ugandan colleagues in the future and to keep learning from them.
Find her on twitter as @GeogMum
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