We (the Teach2030 team) are learners too!
All too often, initiatives that begin with the best intentions fail because a team doesn’t spend enough time talking to and learning from the community that they are trying to support. We won’t make the same mistake! Here at the Commonwealth Education Trust, we are continually looking for opportunities to connect with teachers working in all settings, to know and understand their strengths, their challenges and their frustrations.
Since May, we have been holding monthly 15-minute virtual workshops for our Teach2030 community, where we focus on one key teaching point through the delivery of a short presentation. The first learners in this new initiative were us, the team at CET! It took time to find the right medium, the right time, and the right format to connect with our community. Through this discovery process, we now deliver our workshops on the last Wednesday and Saturday of the month at 3pm UK time, through Zoom, while broadcasting to Facebook Live at the same time. While many teachers own a smartphone, using them to connect virtually through a registration link has been a challenge. However, strengthening teachers’ digital skills is a key part of the CET mission, and we have seen participants develop their confidence as the workshops continue.
We love this description of a workshop from one teacher:
‘A workshop is a way for someone to pass on to colleagues, ideas and methods that they have developed or find important. Especially for people who work together, a workshop can help to create a sense of community or common purpose among its participants.’ – Anitha, India
So, how do we learn from our Teach2030 community during the workshops? And, what have WE learnt?
Teachers are encouraged to participate with comments in the chat function, and, when possible, to share their thoughts and ideas verbally too. We have seen teachers standing in the middle of rural Zambia, three hours from the nearest town, accessing our workshops on Zoom through their smartphones! They have shared their ideas on how to write clear lesson objectives, model learning when you have few resources, give effective feedback, and so much more. From moderating and listening to what teachers say, we have taken note, using this to inform our courses, our social media, our workshops, and really, everything we do.
Every workshop has a follow-up newsletter that is sent to all those who registered for the workshop. It contains further information and activities on the topic, as well as a feedback survey. This provides participants with the opportunity to give honest feedback, to say what they liked, and where we could do better.
Of course, we love hearing where things have gone well!
‘It was short and specific…. The examples were virtually appropriate, I can connect to it very well.’ – Samrit, India
We debated about the length of the workshops – 15 minutes is certainly short! However, we felt that this would feel achievable to attendees, and wouldn’t be too burdensome on already busy lives and timetables. The workshops can extend beyond this, if we are having a good discussion, but the key learning is always presented in those 15 minutes.
‘The SMART technique was very useful. It helps a lot to prepare my lesson objectives.’ Lisha, India
By focusing on one key objective for each session, we can ensure we are clear and specific ourselves about the message we are trying to deliver. We bring research, evidence-based skills and pedagogy to our community.
‘I enjoyed the interactive activity where we got an opportunity to share via the chat feature what we have learnt. For example, reflecting on the scenario with the learning objectives and deciding on which one was more specific as it relates to what the students will do’ – Grace, Nigeria
For many of our community, this is the first time they have engaged with teachers working in countries on the other side of the world. Hearing how others face particular challenges, or their favourite techniques and strategies, are the best ways of learning from our peers.
As Moses from Nigeria says ‘I look forward to future sessions where participants interact and share experiences from their various teaching-learning encounters.’ We are finding that teachers are interacting more and more as they become accustomed to attending the digital workshops.
Most importantly, the surveys ALSO provide us with clear examples of where the challenges lie for those who wish to attend the workshops – and information about these challenges is what we need, so we can plan workarounds to enable access for all.
‘I was unable to login because the computer battery was low, so I could not attend the workshop.’ – Flomo Liberia
To combat issues such as this: no access to a device, no power to charge the device battery, poor connectivity, or other demands on time, all workshops can now be viewed post-event on our Teach2030 website, on our Teach2030 YouTube channel and on our Teach2030 Facebook page.
Often, we realise that a term that might be used in one way in a classroom in the UK takes on a different meaning when in a school in Zambia, for example. Recently, during a bespoke workshop on independent learning that we delivered to TVET teachers supported by UNIDO in Liberia, we realised how this phrase of ‘independent learning’ both represents learners being given a chance to practise a new skill on their own, but also suggests taking charge of their own learning at another time. All of these discoveries help us to build a clearer picture of Teach2030 teachers, and to hone – and refine – the contextualised materials we create, and the language we use in workshops and our materials.
Have you attended one of our workshops yet? Have you encouraged teachers you work with to come along? You can always find the registration link here, on the Teach2030 home page, and our social media will remind you of the date, time and topic each month. Come and join us, so we can continue learning from you and create materials that you, our Teach2030 community, both need and want.
‘So far the workshops have been great and timely. Continue to do what you are doing.’ Thank you Nadine from Jamaica – we will definitely do just that!