How is RedEarth Education empowering teachers and combating high teacher absenteeism through professional development?
It’s clear to see here that a general lack of training opportunities, motivation and support
in Uganda is causing high levels of absenteeism amongst teachers. We are working to improve teacher morale by delivering training and support that helps re-engage them with their profession and shows them the impact their work has on their students’ lives.
Old and Outdated Teaching
Imagine sitting in a dull, grey classroom. The teacher stands at the front, drilling out a long line of facts that soon start to lose all meaning. You no longer understand this droning whirl of words. Now you won’t be able to do the homework. And you won’t understand tomorrow’s lesson either. But there’s no time to ask questions. You don’t want to look stupid….
Many teachers in Uganda still use this style of teaching because it is all they have learnt – one of hard facts, and right or wrong answers. It values a learner who sits still and listens quietly, passively accepting everything the expert teacher says. Students are required to memorise and repeat facts. There is no room for interpretation, scintillating thought, opinions or independent problem solving.
It’s clear that these outdated modes of teaching are not conducive to learning. Students are disengaged and bored, and classes become a drag. This leads to poor learning outcomes and a high dropout rate, as the material learnt does not seem to have much use to students outside the classroom in the real world.
Making learning exciting – for students AND teachers!
We want to show students that learning is fun and that what they learn is actually extremely useful in their everyday lives. We do this by training teachers in how to turn their classroom into a fun, exiting learning environment, using methods of active learning
1- The strategies we teach revolve around group activities which aim to involve all students in the classroom. Examples include asking students to rank statements in order of choice or to place statements under agree/disagree headings
2- We also use many fun learning games that move away from the traditional ‘chalk and talk. Teachers are trained using a wide variety of learning aids to be shared with pupils, such as jigsaws, bingo, snakes and ladders, and dice games.
3- We also train in “pupil talk” – moving away from the teacher as the main talker in the classroom towards the pupils. We do a lot of work on developing teacher questioning skills to encourage pupils’ thinking rather than just memorising and repeating.
These activities all help encourage independent thinking and allow students to play an active role in their learning. This works to gain pupil engagement and enjoyment, and further support real learning.