Teacher Learning Circles Aim to Strengthen Cross-Cultural Bridges, Scale Up Successes

Some say you learn by listening, others by teaching. The Noyau teachers are doing both!

The Noyau, the core group of teachers at College des Savior, have become involved in two different Teacher Learning Circles on two continents.

In one, the Noyau are getting to know a group of teachers from nearby Lukunga school in hopes of working with them to implement the learning model from College des Savior at Lukunga. In October, the two groups of teachers met for a workshop with Program Committee members Ann Marie Thomson and Linnea Stifler. On December 29th, the two groups met again as a follow-up to the October workshop and discussed what their experiences with the teaching model had been since then.

The main goal of the December meeting was to continue to build community between the two groups of teachers and set the stage for further curriculum collaboration in the future. As Giving Back to Africa looks to scale up its program model to other schools in the area, it wants to make sure that the model is not imposed on others. Rather, the transfer of knowledge should be a mutual one, part of a process which creates buy-in in the model and accounts for differences across schools and communities.

When asked to report on their experiences since the October meeting, teachers had many positive comments. Mr. Patrick, a teacher from College des Savior, said: “To have my Students still awake, involved and interested, I change my way to teach discussing with them, guiding them and bringing them to work themselves sometimes.” Mr. Etienne, from Lukunga, noted that, “I began to consider all answers (true or wrong) from Students and accompany them in the problem-solve process.”

The Lukunga teachers, as a group, noted how interesting it has been to see the incorporation of different techniques into the teaching process and how students are engaged, talking and discovering. The idea of student-centered learning is very much reflected in the teachers’ experiences and reflections.

After reflecting on their experiences, the Noyau then presented a lesson model. Dr. Jerry notes that the meeting participants were all very active. The Noyau and Lukunga teachers want to increase the frequency of their meetings to meet monthly. They already have another meeting set for the end of January.

Mr. Emmanuel teaching a lesson

Mr. Emmanuel teaching a lesson

The teachers actively participated.

The teachers actively participated.

The Noyau also recently reflected with Dr. Jerry on their own experiences at College des Savior over the past four years. They said that at first, students were shy. But now, after a process of patience, love, and commitment, the school as a whole understands the value of the school’s unique model.

On the other side of the world, teachers at the Project School in Bloomington, Indiana, are beginning a relationship with the Noyau as well. The two groups recently had their first Skype meeting, a meeting two months in the making. The teachers prepared for the meeting by thinking of answers to questions about sustainability. The two groups become one from their shared commitment to student-centered teaching as well.

During the meeting, the teachers discussed their answers to the questions and talked about sustainability and how to teach such a complex topic to students. The meeting was followed with a debriefing on both sides and plenty of excitement all around.

The Noyau enjoyed the meeting immensely. Mr. Pombo said, “We are so happy and wish we’ll continue interaction.” Mr. Emmanuel commented that, “We are happy for the first contact with Project School Teachers. We’ll share this with our Students. We’ll take profit from their knowledge, from them to make more rich our teaching.” Both sets of teachers have much knowledge to gain from each other.

These opportunities to further education and increase experience and connections are so vital to the long-term success of the program. As people share ideas and observations, they also share understanding—and that is something that truly does change communities, no matter where they are.