Developing a quality education program means working in a lot of different areas.
There are school facilities and their locations to be considered; nutrition for children; school resources like textbooks and pencils; any limitations a school might have – the list goes on!
But of course, no quality education program would be complete without an incredible team of teachers to deliver it.
Under the guidance of competent, confident teachers, students can become competent, confident learners with learning outcomes to take them through school, tertiary education, employment and beyond!
As part of our quality education model, we provide teacher training and mentoring in our supported schools in Uganda, South Africa and Thailand.
Teacher training and mentoring is not only a priority for us, but is also part of a global target to improve quality education standards worldwide. As part of Goal 4: Quality Education of the Sustainable Development Goals, there are targets to increase the proportion of teachers globally who have received organised teacher training relevant to their country context.
Improving student learning outcomes is only possible when we develop teachers that can help identify, respond to and support learners to emerge from schooling as inquisitive young people.
Teacher mentoring is one of the ways we endeavour to support teachers, improve their practice and give them the training and resources they need to be a successful teacher. We employ teacher mentors who work 1:1 with teachers in remote schools, consulting with them about their practices, providing feedback and promoting peer-learning. We also provide teacher training that means communities and students in Cotton On Foundation supported schools are learning within the best environments and best practices globally.
How this looks can be a little different in each region we work in…
In Uganda, we have come up with a number of initiatives that enhance teacher support and quality education programs, including:
Weekly mentorship support: On a weekly basis, mentors from Cotton On Foundation visit different schools to provide guidance and support to teachers on their path to professional development. Mentorship includes help in lesson preparation, delivery, material development, and use of child centred approaches to teaching and learning.
Continuous Professional Development (CPDs): A specific group of teachers is chosen, and invited to one central place during the course of the term to share best teaching practices, challenges and together develop a way forward for better performance.
In house training: These are facilitated by mentors, and are conducted to support teachers who have just been introduced to the Early Grade Reading methodology. Teachers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively deliver and implement Early Grade Reading lessons, in turn helping them to support learners to achieve their full potential.
Reading competitions: As a way of nurturing a reading culture among learners, mentors organise reading competitions where learners display their reading skills, with rewards for excellent readers. The goal here is to inspire and motivate learners to read, and to eliminate rote learning.
As a result of the training and mentorship support offered, we have seen a number of positive changes in teachers! Educators in Uganda have reported:
- Improved levels of creativity and innovativeness among teachers.
- Increased levels of confidence during lesson delivery.
- Increased levels of networking.
- Improved leadership skills.
- Increased motivation of learners.
- Increased levels of research
Not only have the mentors seen these positive changes in teachers but also in students:
- Improved skills in reading and writing.
- Increased levels of academic performance.
- Improved levels of confidence and self-esteem among learners.
- Reduced levels of rote learning among learners.
- Learning is considered fun!
In South Africa, we have partnered with Khanyisa Inanda Seminary Community Projects, local experts in teacher development, to help develop the teachers at Ethekwini Primary School. Our priorities here include:
- Support and professional development of Principal, Gabisile Zulu
- Support of staff in the classroom
- Professional development for all educational team members
- Support and monitoring of teacher interns
- Mentor training
- ICT development
Two mentors, Flick (a former Principal) and Glen (former educator) support the teaching team by hosting and facilitating weekly professional development workshops, as well as weekly classroom support.
In classroom support can take different shapes! Common ways teachers are supported are with observation and feedback, co-teaching, coaching on classroom layout, and useful teaching techniques.
As a result, teachers from Ethekwini are boasting improved confidence in classroom management and discipline techniques.
As one of the latest regions Cotton On Foundation has established work, Thailand is the most recent place we’ve introduced teacher training. Through both weekly and monthly scheduled trainings, our supported teachers in Thailand have covered topics including:
- Child protection
- Learning materials development
- Lesson objectives
- How to create a learning environment without the use of corporal punishment
- eReaders and computer training
- Thai language training
Outside of regular teaching training sessions, we’ve also employed a few different initiatives to further support teachers and their development:
Mentorship support: Much like in Uganda and South Africa, a mentorship program has proved to be a fantastic tool to improve outcomes for both teachers and students alike! Focusing on classroom observation and feedback, mentors are able to identify teachers’ strengths, while working with them to create solutions for any difficulties they’re experiencing in class.
Peer-to-peer support: In these sessions, supported teachers are invited to gather together to discuss their own successes and challenges, allowing them to share teaching methods and encourage each other.
Leaders involvement: Ensuring the involvement of school principals and directors in specific training sessions allows space for teachers to voice their opinions, with the goal of collaboration to find ways to help teachers feel better supported.
Hearing feedback from teachers has been wonderful!
“There are many changes in our teaching, our attitude to improve our teaching to attract the students in learning and changing their characters. For teaching, we have to use materials, [have] lesson plans, keep daily records and [have] assessment in teaching. Our areas that needed to be improved were helped and guided by the mentor, so mentoring prepared us to become skilful teachers, prepared our lessons in order to make the students grasp the concepts and able to use it for future lives.”
“Trainings and mentoring programs are very good. I get to know and realize my weak point and how to recorrect it and start continuously thinking about it. I also start using activities and songs in my class.”