This morning was calm. Don’t be mistaken, the traffic and heat is still here, but rather our time in each school felt more controlled. The volunteers started to grasp a routine and the chats were more organic. Teachers and students recognised us and the barriers came down as a sense of openness and interaction was found.
Our first Headteacher was keen to see us and even took photos with us. She was excited to tell us that more teachers would like to be observed, to which we were more than happy to oblige. Smiles spilled across faces as we found our way to our mentees and we could immediately see our first set of feedback in action. A warming sense of pride and acceptance washed over us. Our efforts were welcomed.
As observations continued throughout the morning, I was fortunate to spend some time getting to know some of the students in our respective classes. One student was happy to show me what they were doing in Maths and was able to teach me about concepts that I had clearly forgotten from my own education. All were eager to ask questions and play games and were captivated by our presence and why we are here! Students ranged from 5 years old to 13/14 in the schools, and of course beyond in the one secondary school we visited. As a result it was impressive to hear their grasp of the English language. In further discussion with the team, Tina and Candela, both Modern Foreign Language (MFL) specialists, reflected on their grasp of the English language, even at such a young age; something quite different to what we’re used to when our own students are learning languages.
As 2.30 quickly rolled around, our volunteers were all buzzing to see that the Teachers’ seminar attendance had doubled, relieved that they could share more in-depth feedback and build further connections. There was also a confidence in Teachers asking for advice on how to move forward and ask for support in their own classrooms for engagement.
This then made for great discussions in Mark and Simon’s seminar as they led a debate on effective learning objectives and being able to differentiate between tasks and concepts. Higher order thinking was beginning to surface as we were able to break through to encourage Teachers to reflect.
Time is flying so quickly here and I can hardly believe we only have three more days with our teachers. Conversation was intense tonight about our plan of action for tomorrow and how we can work to be strategic in upcoming learning chats. A key reflection has been what is going to be most valuable for our mentee’s own teaching.
Contribution from Alexandra Drabczynska. Want to read more about our current trip – read our first and second posts!