We woke to another glorious day today with the sun already scorching and splitting the skies over Kabula Lodge as we left for a day of Library training in both Blantyre Rural and Urban.
Another bespoke training lesson that Laura has been planning over the last few weeks – with a couple of last minute tweaks following the day of teacher training yesterday!
In the morning it was back to Ntenjera Teachers Development Centre and the first cohort from Blantyre Rural schools – one teacher had travelled from the furthest flung primary school in the zone and had set off very early in the morning to participate.
And Laura did not disappoint and facilitated the session in her perfectly refined ‘Malawian’ voice.
Laura’s teaching style is very interactive and very soon had the group engaging in the lesson about using reading resources to impact on learning and teaching.
Drawing on her own experiences in a Malawian classroom and library, Laura was delighted with the discussions in the breakout workshops…and got lots of giggles when she produced her favourite book from her classroom back in Carmyle PS – Giraffes Can’t Dance!
Laura interspersed her lesson with videos of the children she had taught at Kapeni Demonstration School – the perfect visual aids to back up the key learning points that Laura wanted to get across.
Laura had also borrowed some books from the library at Blantyre Girls when we visited the other day – nothing better than an in-country prop to get the message across. These are reading books specifically designed for African readers.
It was also encouraging to see that a number of the teachers had brought along the MLOL library guide – a document that we’ve had printed in English and Chichewa and distributed to Blantyre primary schools.
It was wonderful to hear the teachers’ ideas that were readily shared with the group on how they would use the books and images to support teaching and learning in their classes.
We were all entertained with the role playing too –something that Laura had been nervous about including…but the teachers embraced this – truly brilliant!
And Laura explained that if the schools do not have the resources in the shape of books – as many don’t…they could bring in newspapers and posters as visual aids for their lesson – simple but effective.
Laura got more laughs when she concluded the first part of the morning when she recounted that her favourite chant (Malawian teachers like a chant) from her teaching time in Malawi was from Chisawani PS…the teacher says in positive response to a good answer…‘nice, nice nice…’ and the learners respond…’sooooooooooooooooooo nice’!
This became a recurring tone of the training…along with a special Laura ‘hand and dance action’.
The final session after break was about effective reading learners in schools and the importance of good role models to our pupils.
Teachers play a crucial role in this – the need to lead by example.
As Laura was speaking an image flashed up on the make-shift projection screen of a young child on a mobile phone – the digital age and more access to devices – even for our young pupils has become a barrier to reading back home so we must all make reading fun again.
We’ve written many times during our Malawian visits about the fact that if you want to hide information in Malawi then put it in a book!
Malawian teachers can be the key that unlocks this information.
As the training continued, I was able to pay another visit to nearby Ntenjera PS – this time to meet the Mary’s Meals ladies as they were finishing the morning meal.
These wonderful women arrive at 5am each morning to prepare the likuni phala (porridge) in time for the children arriving from 6am to fill their mugs.
We also took a wee walk down to the associated secondary school – Ntenjera Community Day Secondary with just 343 learners – a very small school roll by Malawian standards.
In the corner of the playground we noticed foundations for a new classroom block – a large area that is to house a new library and a lab for the learners and funded by the government.
Unfortunately – the foundations were completed 4 years ago but since then nothing.
Can you imagine if this happened back home in Scotland?
The headteacher did not seemed unduly concerned and shrugged his shoulders and said that it would be finished as some point…he’d heard that ‘sometime soon’ the builders would be back to complete the brickwork to roof height.
We finished the afternoon at Limbe Teacher Development Centre for the second session of the library training for Blantrye Urban librarians and teachers.
A lot of familiar faces – and of course Sharon met more Malawian colleagues she has worked with over the years as part of MLOL.
She has an amazing ability to remember names and faces and puts the rest of us to shame.
We are nearing the end of our visit…we’ve just about run out of Glasgow City Council gifts and handed out all of our resources we’ve brought from home…so it’s just as well.
A memorable moment today must be when Wilson – the CPEA for Blantyre Rural – closed the training session this morning with a rousing speech to talk about the impact of MLOL and how all the teachers present must embrace the skills they have learnt today and transfer them to their schools.
To make their libraries the very best they can be and an enticing learning space for both learners and teachers.
We will all go to sleep tonight reciting ‘nice, nice, nice…’ ‘soooooooooooooo nice’.