Chapter 2 : Changes at Chisawani.
The past week has been a busy one for Frances and I, at Chisawani Demonstration School. We had some clear objectives in mind for how we could contribute to school development and leave a legacy for which the learners and teachers can benefit from in the future. The start of the week focused on establishing a library at Chisawani. To our pleasant suprise, the school already had a vast quantity of books but these were lying away from the learners hands in a dusty room not being utilized.
The first task for Fran and I was to get the library looking ship-shape. With a merry bunch of Standard 8 learners, we commenced sorting the books into Chichewa and English piles. Our next few days were consumed by classifying the English books into fiction and non-fiction, as well as, sorting the books into mobile library baskets for each class. So we are happy to say that each stage has its own basket of books from Standard 1 all the way to Standard 8.
The middle of the week saw Fran and I deliver a CPD session to the teaching members of staff at Chisawani. I led the session with a focus on 'how to make every lesson great'. I focused the discussion on creating a nurturing climate for teaching and learning and explained that when Fran and I are planning and delivering lessons, we aim to follow a 'good learning' cycle. The presentation generated a lot of discussion and questions from our Malawian colleagues, with some teachers saying they would take ideas from the CPD to try out in their own practice. Fran finished the CPD session with a look at 'Assessment is for Learning' strategies, with some colleagues commenting again that they would test out some strategies with their own learners. Fran and I were happy to see the flipchart paper with our CPD presentations hanging in Head Teacher Mr Likwemba's office so that the teaching staff can make reference to the CPD in the future.
The end of the week saw Fran and I training our Standard 8 learners for 'paired reading' with the younger Standard 1 learners. With the mobile library up and running, we thought it was best to get it up and running as soon as possible. With 95% of human learning coming through teaching others, and 50% through what we see and hear, we thought building the foundations for a 'paired reading' would benefit Chisawani Demonstration School greatly. Our training began by splitting up Standard 8 learners into six groups due to the large class size. We discussed with our Standard 8 learners the importance of showing our younger learners the front cover and discussing the different features, as well as, asking their predictions for the plot of the book with help from the front picture. After that, we assisted Standard 8 with questions they could ask younger learners before, during and after learning. We encouraged Standard 8 to ask 'why' questions, and allowing our young readers to express opinion. Standard 8 learned so quickly, and we have every confidence they will be fantastic reading mentors for our younger learners. Next week, Fran and I hope to mentor reading sessions with the Standard 8 and 1 classes and get Standard 7 and 2 involved in a similar reading programme. We are hoping to work with the teachers again and have another CPD session planned.