As a primary teacher working in a public school in Canada, it has been a privilege for me to work with teachers of Uganda during the last two summers and to share best practices with primary teachers working in public schools in a remote region of Uganda.
The professional development project jointly sponsored by the National Ugandan Teachers’ Union (UNATU), and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) offers primary teachers in Uganda an opportunity to participate in a week-long in-service training program on literacy and numeracy.
Each session, prepared and co-instructed by Ugandan and Canadian teachers, saw participants’ enthusiastic willingness to learn new child-centered teaching strategies, prepare and present lessons, use resources made with local materials, acquire skills in classroom management and foster girl-friendly school.
Despite their crowded classrooms and lack of resources, these amazing Ugandan teachers were eager to try new approaches that would increase learning outcomes for the primary students in their area.
An additional facet to the in-service training was the creation of an effective follow-up and reporting program that encourages staff collaboration, planning and sharing over the coming year. Each school action plan included the input and support of head teachers and coordinating center tutors responsible for professional development in their area.
One highlight of my experience was observing a Ugandan teacher using some of her newly acquired skills during a literacy lesson with her 130 primary students. Her enthusiasm in using the simple, yet effective strategies to engage her students was infectious. Her students responded in kind and, immediately, we could see the success that will foster improved academic performance.
Working with Ugandan teachers reinforces my belief that the best teachers are those who continually learn and are passionate about their work. They are the ones who work tirelessly each day, hoping to make a difference in the lives of their students.
Uganda is full or remarkable teachers who have taught me the greatest lessons of all. I am a better teacher and citizen thanks to their inspiration, perseverance, and unfailing belief that with everyone’s contribution and sustained effort, the future will be brighter.
(By Simone Désilets, who teaches in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is a member of The Alberta Teachers’ Association, one of the 16 member organizations of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. CTF is affiliated to Education International.)
Image credit: gordontour via Flickr