In late March, we ran a mid-term teacher training for our partner teachers in Lira District. This training was designed to help teachers reflect on how the Yiya teaching checklist has impacted their teaching, as well as to give teachers a chance to learn and practice new strategies for a relevant, hands-on, collaborative, and learner-centered classroom, a classroom with R-E-A-L learning!
A week prior to this workshop, Mr. Peter Tabichi, a teacher from our neighborhood Kenya, was honored with the Global Teacher Prize. We were so excited! The very best teacher in the world is one of our neighbors and even more importantly, he teaches in a similarly rural and low-resourced setting as our partner teachers in Northern Uganda! We joined the rest of East African teachers in celebrating Mr. Tabichi and shared Peter’s story with our teachers. We opened our mid-term workshop by playing the award ceremony video for our teachers, reading about Mr. Tabichi’s teaching strategies, and discussing how to become champion teachers like Mr. Tabichi in our own classrooms! It was inspiring for everyone!
The first section of the Yiya teaching checklist is RELEVANT. As part of transforming their lessons to be relevant, we ask teachers to design clear lesson objectives as part of their lesson preparation, and to strategize how they will share their lesson objectives with students in class during the lesson. During this workshop, we reminded teachers how to design very strong lesson objectives by reviewing Bloom’s Taxonomy, emphasizing that teachers use strong action verbs to create lesson objectives that challenge students and help them grow. In this activity, teachers worked in groups to design lesson objectives for lessons they will teach in Term 1, which use verbs from at least 3 different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Lesson objectives BEFORE the workshop:
Students will know Newton’s 3rd law of motion.
Student will understand the importance of enzymes to human digestion.
Students will learn the history of cross-continent trade routes.
Lesson objectives AFTER the workshop:
Students will demonstrate Newton’s 3rd law of motion using everyday household objects.
Students will explain the function of enzymes in human digestion and provide examples of what would happen WITHOUT enzymes.
Students will debate the historical effects of cross-continent trade routes on the present day economies of at least two African countries.
This second set of objectives has action verbs so that students need to do something to show they have mastered the content. These second objectives also are very specific, which is important for students to stay focused and know exactly what they are supposed to learn in a lesson.
In this activity, teachers also planned how they would communicate lesson objectives to students during the lesson. In Uganda’s traditional classroom setting, teachers don’t share lesson objectives. The teacher is the only one that knows why a lesson is being taught or what students will learn in the lesson. But at Yiya, we’ve found that sharing lesson objectives with students at the beginning of the lesson helps them to stay more focused and holds teachers accountable during class time. Students are also happier in class when they know what they are learning and why! Strategies that teachers planned to use to share lesson objectives with students included:
Reading the lesson objectives aloud to students at the beginning of the lesson
Writing the lesson objectives on a flipchart and asking a volunteer to read them.
Writing the lesson objectives on the top right corner of the chalkboard so students can reference them throughout the lesson.
The other best practice that we trained teachers on during this workshop was how to use games and creative student appreciations in class to keep energy levels high, to motivate students, and to help student master certain content. Teachers learned that when you play games with students, they become more engaged in class, lesson content is reinforced, and class positivity is increased! Teachers worked in groups to invent 1 new game and 1 form of appreciation that they committed to use in an upcoming lesson at their school. We challenged teachers to design games that followed two simple criteria:
- The game should be related somehow to the content for that particular lesson.
- The game should be played for max 3 minutes.
After all the design work, teachers practiced their new strategies with each other in teams, and gave each other constructive feedback. Each teacher conducted a 5-minute lesson in which they demonstrated the lesson objectives for that lesson, how they will share the lesson objectives with students, the game they will play to emphasize lesson content and keep energy high, and the way they will uniquely appreciate students in the classroom. Teachers were excited to receive feedback on their plans from their colleagues and the Yiya trainers!
We ended the action-packed day the way we end every Yiya workshop: by asking our teachers to gather together in a reflection circle and share what has been most useful to them, and what they will do differently in the classroom after this training. Ms. Paula, a biology teacher from St. Katherine Secondary School shared that this workshop helped her discover how teaching checklists can make a huge impact in the classroom and urged her colleagues to keep using the Yiya teaching checklist. She further added that “when we (teachers) use the checklist, learning will be so joyful.” Mr. Otim Ambrose, a teacher of agriculture from Archbishop Orombi Secondary School commented that he liked how we reminded them of Bloom’s Taxonomy and trained them on its real application.