Our mission to develop Malawian Sports Leaders began when we visited all of our Malawi partner schools
All schools were very welcoming and were delighted to agree to provide 20 Standard 7 or 8 pupils who would participate in Sports Leader training. It was agreed that after a full day of leadership training with the Leaders they would then develop and consolidate their skills by leading Standard 1,2 and 3 classes. It was also agreed that we would use and share our formative assessment techniques to ensure regular, routine and structured approaches to skill development. We intentionally shared activities with our young leaders which are appropriate for use with variable class sizes, which can be modified to meet learners needs and specific activities which require handmade or no equipment.
Week 1 thoughts and reflections:
We were assigned to Milala Primary School first which is situated one hour from Blantyre and within very rural surroundings. Our Young Leaders here were very shy in nature initially and developed confidence in communicating with and leading others as the course progressed. I feel very proud of these young people for their commitment and enthusiasm for learning throughout the 3 day course.
At the end of our first week, we moved from Milala to Blantyre Girls School to deliver this course. There was an obvious contrast in surroundings moving from very rural to urban surroundings and higher levels of confidence and aspirations were also evident.
Learning and Teaching
I have thoroughly enjoyed engaging in daily professional dialogue focused solely on approaches to learning and teaching. A conscious effort had been made to share learning intentions, devise shared success criteria and to reflect on this using self and peer assessment techniques. Techniques such as Thumbs Up and Fist of Five have been particularly useful in gauging understanding quickly where there is a language barrier. The Sports Masters and Mistresses have also demonstrated similar approaches to consolidating learning providing children with opportunities for Wait Time and to Think, Pair, Share.
Developing our Sports Leaders Course
Following each day of delivery, Jenny and I spend time reflecting on our approaches to learning and teaching, content and desired impact and plan accordingly.
Each school has different facilities (all outdoor without structure) and very limited equipment. We have asked our young leaders within both schools to make balls from paper or plastic and to bring them to the second and third sessions. We have built team identities by making bands with local material and given structure to sessions by using stones for boundaries.
All young people have been caring, welcome and motivated to be a part of this project and in developing themselves as young leaders.
The first thing which I would normally do when meeting a class is to make a conscious effort to learn all of their names. I have always appreciated that this is the most powerful tool in building a relationship with young people quickly. Regardless of the language barrier, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that this remains the case when working with any young person anywhere in the world.
As the sessions with Leaders progressed it was also very clear that these children had very similar personalities to the young people with whom I work in Glasgow. It reinforced what my Dad told me when I was going to work with children in Bangladesh in 2014 - "kids are kids wherever you go in the world".
I have been overwhelmed by Malawian children's thirst and appreciation for learning and education and their kind and caring nature for one another. It has been very refreshing to hear the strong independent and aspirational voices of the young women at Blantyre Girls School who are aiming to be "a judge", " a doctor ", "a lawyer", "an accountant" and who have such strong opinions on women in society and political leadership.
Regular Assessment is for Learning strategies have ensured learner progress throughout both courses. We recorded this learning at Milala by using group Pupil Voice activities. Leaders were asked, "What did you learn?". The response was as follows:
Team Work Spirit
How to lead
How to do things quickly
How to teach others
I can do this in my village
Easier access to paper at Blantyre Girls School has allowed learners to complete a daily Sports Leader Diary which will log their feelings, progress, next steps and log ideas for future sessions.
As these sessions progress, we are carefully considering the ways in which we can develop purposeful CPD sessions for the staff at these schools to ensure that these approaches to the development of Young Leaders and also providing alternative approaches to delivering quality physical education to large classes.