Our final full week at Chisawani has been a very busy and productive one!
We started off the week with the ambitious task of training Standard 7 learners, all 250 of them, in paired reading! As Standard 8 will paired with Standard 1 we also need Standard 7 trained to work with Standard 2. Our training last week went so smoothly that we were hopeful we could achieve our ambitious target. Unfortunately, the level of English in Standard 7 was not so high so our learners were struggling to understand. Fortunately, our fantastic Paired Reading Leaders from Standard 8 were available to give us a helping hand and they did a fantastic job translating into Chichewa and modelling good practise to Standard 7.
We also had the opportunity to work with the teachers on the Library Committee and demonstrate how paired reading can work with Standard 8 and Standard 1. The first few sessions in the week were a bit slow to start, with the logistics of organising and pairing up groups of 30 Standard 8s with 30 Standard 1s, choosing books and finding a suitable spot for reading. However, after a couple of sessions, things began to run like clockwork! We were delighted to arrive at Standard 1 on Tuesday morning to find our first group of learners lined up, ready and waiting for Standard 8! The older learners take such great care of their partners and the teachers remarked how impressed they were by their reading and questioning strategies throughout. The younger learners were very keen to share a story, so much so that a few sneaked back into the line for a second and third session! Myself, Stephen and the teachers are delighted with the how well Standard 8 have taken on their new roles. It has been wonderful to take a step back this week and watch our paired reading program flourish. Standard 7 still have more training to do but we are confident Standard 8 will be excellent leaders and teachers!
This week we also had our second CPD session with staff, all about creating a culture of reading at Chisawani, the paired reading program and how to make best use of the new library. The session was well attended by staff and they were interested to learn about the training taking place with Standards 7 and 8. A member of the library committee also took part, sharing his experience of a paired reading session and how well the Standard 8s have embraced their role. As part of the session, staff members worked collaboratively to create their own Chisawani Reading Charter. After lots of discussion the teachers agreed on the statements to include, placing teachers knowledge of reading and library as their top priority. This reflects this dedication and enthusiasm of the staff at Chisawani to prioritise reading for enjoyment and take forward the paired reading program we have introduced. We look forward to keeping in touch with the staff at Chisawani, supporting them with their improvement plan and seeing how a culture of reading progresses.
This week Stephen and I have taught our final lessons, I've worked with Standards 5 and 6 and Stephen has been with Standards 7 and 8. All the learners loved learning about Scotland and life in our respective schools back home. They were fascinated by photos from school, intrigued by smart boards and playground games and most especially postcards of Scottish scenery and snow!
It was lovely to teach them all about Scotland and life in our own schools. We also introduced shared reading in our classes, giving the learners their first opportunity to choose books from the mobile library and enjoy some ERIC time. During all of these sessions you could hear a pin drop as the learners were engrossed in their reading, quite a sight to see in classes of over 100 pupils!! It has been a great to demonstrate reading in class to our Malawian colleagues and share their enthusiasm and excitement for the program continuing. All the staff members we have worked with have shown a great interest in making reading a priority in class and remarked how their learners have embraced reading for enjoyment.
My favourite moment from the week has got to be Standard 6 bursting into a spontaneous round of the Chisawani School Song just as I was leaving the classroom, of course I had to stay a little longer and join in! It's sad to think that I've heard my final round of 'Nice, nice, nice....sooo nice' from Standard 5 but both Stephen and I know that we will remain in touch with our new friends at Chisawani and will receive regular updates from our head teacher, Obeck Likwemba.
This weekend we had a chance to visit the beautiful Lake Malawi and enjoy a short break before heading back to our final day at Chisawani. We have no idea what Obeck has in store for us on our final day, but we can't wait to find out! The program has been kept very hush hush, but we have heard rumours about traditional singing and dancing. While we both know it will be hard to say goodbye to our new friends, we also know it will be filled with fun, as every day is at Chisawani!