This was the theme of a two day workshop organised by Myschoolarena recently for school owners, school administrators and teachers at Awka, Anambra State. The objective of the workshop was to intimate the target participants with the latest teaching methodologies that have revolutionised from what it was decades ago to what it is now, in the 21st Century.
Myschoolarena recognises that every child is unique; they have different skills and talents, different styles of learning and they require personalised methods of teaching. A child that is perfect in reading and comprehension may be far behind in playing soccer. Another child who excels in Spelling may find it difficult understanding basic Mathematics or Sciences. This does not mean the child is not intelligent but has intellectual intelligence in that area. All children are intelligent. They develop better that which they have the skills in.
School owners and administrators should encourage their teachers to explore the use of many different teaching methods. The era of standing in front of the white/black board all the time, writing and teaching is far gone and are seen as not active methodologies. The demonstration and teaching should not be the dominant but active methods. “The purpose of teaching is to move students away from being absorbers of information to being processors, synthesisers, creators and users of information.” (Sergiovanni, 1995)
Children are active learners, not passive recipients of information. Learning should be based on activity in which the students participate rigorously and bring about efficient learning experiences. It is a child-centered approach. Young children learn best when they become active participants rather than passive learners.” They make more progress… when they are permitted to work together in groups to solve complex problems, allowed to engage in class discussions and taught to argue convincingly for their approach in the midst of conflicting ideas and strategies. Even young children can do these things well with a little encouragement.” – (Harriet Tyson 1990)
The facilitators were well equipped to tackle the task before them. The two days intensive training had two sessions; one for school owners and administrators and the other for teachers. Both sessions ran simultaneously. Prof. Irene Osisioma, a Professor in Science Education at California State University, USA and Managing Director of Learning Questa Educational Services, an educational consult in Nigeria handled the teachers for two days in Cooperative Learning, Active Learning Strategy, Role of the Teacher in Active Learning Strategies, etc. There were many Working Sessions and Role Plays for effective assimilation of the objectives of the Workshop. She stressed the need for teachers to stop looking down on those children labelled “Slow Learners” rather see them as processors, for they are the great thinkers! Labelling students is a poor approach to engaging the minds of students for better results. Teachers were challenged to think outside the box to learn new ways of teaching, reflect on their teaching practices and begin to explore how to teach differently, describe how children learn, identify characteristics of learner-centred active learning, explain the effective roles of teachers in increasing learning for all pupils, explain the roles of pupils in the classroom, define and discuss active learning, plan a pupil-centred active learning lesson and implement active learning in their classrooms.
School owners and administrators were taken by Mr. Vincent Nkama, who has over twenty three years of experience in teaching and learning in international co-educational schools in Nigeria that teaches both Nigerian and British curricula. He is currently the Group School Administrator of British Spring College, Awka. He engaged them on Developing Strategic School Improvement Plan and Appraisal and Performance Management. Mr. Nkama challenged school owners and administrators to be dynamic and explore new ways of teaching; in addition, personal and professional development must be one of the motivational pegs for their teachers in order to bring out the best in teachers while achieving the vision and mission of their schools. There were working sessions to help them plan and appraise their teachers.
Ms. Helen Lawson, is a seasoned administrator with over twenty five years of experience in school administration. She spent twenty years serving on the hands -on management team of the prestigious Lagoon Secondary School, Lagos. She has done several management courses at Lagos Business School and is currently the Head of Primary Section at Roseville School, Enugu. She gave the administrators hands on experience in Leadership in the 21st Century: The Visionary Administrator. Ms. Lawson is passionate about the need for school owners to focus more on the students who will be the future leaders with an all-round education not only in academics but in character. While one of the purposes of setting up a school is to make profit, it should be at the back of the minds of proprietors to see to it that the human dignity of both teachers and students are safe guarded.
Mrs. Chinelo Ujubuoñu, worked with Educational Cooperation Society-Women’s Board for fourteen years, she is the Managing Director of MySchoolArena. She engaged all the participants on Are You an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher, with working sessions on how to identify emotions, work towards shaping school children into leaders with character and values. Embedded in emotional awareness are self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and social skills.
The participants found the workshop rewarding and satisfactory. In the words of some of the participants: I suggest that Post Primary School Service Commission, PPSSC will make this workshop compulsory. Another said: This type of workshop needs to be taken to our public and private schools to really help beef up teachers with teaching strategies. All participants called for another workshop to involve every teacher, school head, administrator in public and private schools of both primary and secondary as it would boost the teaching skills required in the 21st Century and improve the learning skills of school children.
The objective of the workshop is to deliver quality development for school educators which is a process, not an event. In the words of Stenhouse (1984): The sooner teachers are seen as knowledge workers, professional educators and leaders, the sooner schools will improve, the better for students to see learning as fun and not a bore. Surely these students would work towards achieving better results to the delight of their parents and schools.