A great teacher at the OLE workshop

Desire and I are still at the OLE Curriculum Workshop. It is not always easy work as it is hard to get a large group to try to think in a new and different ways. I am part of the team that is creating the English curriculum. I work with one group, in particular, working on the P6 (grade 6) portion. Arsene, a young teacher from Kicukiro Primary School is part of the team. He is absolutely fantastic. He not only understands powerful ways to integrate the laptop into his teaching, but, most importantly, he is open and understands new ways to work with his students. He shared with us that he likes doing group work with his students and letting them explore and do research on their own. He frequently uses Memorize, the offline Browse content, and Write to help his students during class time. Additionally, unlike some of the groups, he is not afraid to go slowly through the curriculum and really think of ways to make children enjoy the lessons and incorporate all of his local and teaching knowledge to change what was previously there.

I asked him on a drive home what made him so different and very open to new education ideas. He had trouble pinpointing something, but I then asked him how he was able to communicate in English so well. He said that, during school, he had a visiting teacher from Canada. He said she was different from any other teacher he ever had, she taught his class English using a guitar and through song. It was clear this had impacted him and helped to change his own teaching philosophy. This is a testament to some of the great projects in countries such as Rwanda. Sometimes it can be difficult to feel like you are making a difference but this teacher made a huge difference which is now making a much bigger difference for, potentially, the entire country!

Arsene also confided that trying to teach in a non-traditional way is not always easy. He said that he is constantly receiving complaints from the parents of his students because the way they monitor the work of their children at school is by the quantity of notes they have in their notebooks. They always complain “you are not teaching our kids! They have so few notes!”

I thought this was an interesting point not only to realize the realities a teacher faces, but also the big changes required within the culture and community for a large-scale change in education to occur. It is a concrete example of how important it is to do this work before laptops are given to schools.

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  1. I love the use of music for teaching.

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