LEARNERS IN MY CLASS ARE NOW PARTICIPATING MORE DURING THE LESSONS
Nyongiirwe Judith, a Ugandan by nationality is a primary trained teacher currently teaching primary five learners in Kabazana Primary School, and has nine years of experience in teaching in the primary schools within the settlement. She is among the teachers that received training on language for resilience in December 2021. Judith is grateful for the training, it has helped her improve her teaching style and the learners understand her content better.
Judith said, “The training made me more aware of different teaching styles, more so in terms of communicating, and this has greatly improved the communication between me and the learners.”
She had four points to achieve from her action plan which included;
- Learning a new language so that she can communicate easily with the learners in her class especially the new arrivals.
- Placement of the learners within the classroom according to their nationality to encourage peer learning among the refugee learners
- Conducting continuous assessment on the learners in the class and
- Seeking support from the teaching assistants.
Through this training she sought to address the following issues; The language barrier between the learners and the teachers, poor performance among the learners, inadequate participation among the learners and quick promotion of the refugee learners (some refugee learners leave their country of origin when they are already in secondary school but when they come to Uganda, they have to go through primary so that they can learn English which takes them back). Judith was able to achieve her action points and is now addressing these issues with the skills she has attained through the training to support the learners better and enhance the process of teaching and learning through her improved communication skills and has also recorded some successes.
After the training, her and another teacher within her class who had also received training decided to form a group of five people so that they can share ideas with those teachers that did not attend the training. She said that the group helped them to learn new familiar languages (Kinyarwanda and Kirundi) so that they can support the learners better. Within the group, they formed a school debate club for the learner in upper primary to enhance the English support classes for learners, and the patron of the club is a teacher within the group who didn’t attend the training. Furthermore, the debate club has joined other schools in interschool competitions and their learners excelled in one competition and were prized with a goat.
“When Judith shared with us the lessons she learnt from the training, we created a debate club that has boosted the learners English language. Our school debate club even participates in interschool debate competitions, “said the patron of the Debate Club.
Additionally, more successes include improvement in academics of the learners which was brought about by conducting remedial classes for her learners and encouraging peer learning within the class (placing the learners of the same nationality on the same desk so that they can share ideas with each other and help each other during classes).
Learning new languages has helped her create new friendships especially with the teachers, learners and their parents because communication has been made easy.
Through her training she has impacted several people and restored hope among the refugee learners. They are more encouraged to study and their attitude towards school has improved since they have more freedom to express themselves and are able to understand the content being taught.
PERFORMANCE OF THE LEARNERS IN MY MATHEMATICS CLASS HAS GREATLY IMPROVED AFTER THE TRAINING
Mucunguzi Edward is a Ugandan primary trained teacher supporting primary seven learners’ at Kabazana Primary School. Edward attended the training on language for resilience in December 2021.
Part of his action points from the training included; Remedial teaching, student to student interaction (peer learning), and learning a language similar to the children.
He selected these action points to address the issues on improving the academic performance of children who were left out during normal lessons, to enable them to catch up with others using a similar language. He wanted to help the new refugee children to know how to read and understand English, and to help other children in class who were struggling to understand by using the children who know English and other languages to interpret for those who did not understand English properly, this would make the lessons realistic and better understood for children during teaching.
Some of his key activities after the training include creating time tables for remedial classes for the whole term and grouping students according to their understanding of concepts in class i.e. those who understand and those slow to understand in normal lesson are paired with students who can support them for the first two months.
Some of the main result observed from his new strategy was the improvement of the children’s performance in their academic and discipline. This was witnessed in the recently concluded PLE mocks where the best learner in his mathematics class scored 96% and became the 3rd in the entire district. Edward said that because of remedial teaching, mathematics was the best performed subject in Kabazana primary school and yet the poorest performed subject in the entire district mock 2022. Edward remarked, “The third best student in the district PLE mathematics mocks of 2022 came from my class. The top three best mathematics performers scored 96%, 93% and 92% respectively.”
Additionally, he has learnt the children’s language where he introduces a lesson in the language similar to children. This has improved the attendance of the children and has also increased their concentration levels during learning. They have also formed friendships among the learners and teachers through grouping.
Some of the challenges faced during implementation of the action plans are school activities such as workshops have affected teaching but this was solved by adopting the use of remedial. Additionally, high enrolment in the class has been a challenge but Edward has adopted the grouping system when teaching so that the fast learners can support the slow learners.
As a result of the training, there was a great impact on the direct and indirect beneficiaries, the learners performance improved, the teachers that underwent the training have developed a friendship with their learners because they can easily interact in a familiar language with the learners where they understand each other, coordination and work between teachers has improved as they worked together to learn the familiar refugee language. This has helped the teachers to create a favourable learning environment for the learners.
Edward said, “There is a female learner in my class who had a problem with construction and she attended the remedial lessons where I used to teach her in kinyabwisha, now she can testify to be good in construction of angles.”
In his last remarks, he said that the organisation can regularly provide these trainings so that teachers can gain more skills in helping students not only in the refugee settlement but also in all parts of the country since all children have equal rights in accessing quality education.
BRITISH COUNCIL LANGUAGE RESILIENCE TRAINING EASED MY WORK OF HANDLING A BIG CLASS
Happy Violet is a P.2 primary teacher who teaches in Ngurwe primary School located in Kyangwali refugee settlement. She carries out her work with a lot of passion and determination, however her class has about 198 learners making it a very huge class to handle as a single teacher. Her class is also multilingual having learners with different nationalities and dialects. This made it difficult for her to manoeuvre but all of that has changed, and she has British council to thank for the ideas she picked up from the training that have enabled her to handle her class with more ease.
Before the British council language resilience project, it was hard for her to handle a big class. ‘We thought English is the only mode of teaching but we have learnt that even the English subject can be taught better in the local language’ Violet noted. ‘We did not know that we needed to use simple language with translations for learners to understand better. And this has really helped with the teaching and learning process’
The language resilience trainings shaped the teachers to understand the dynamics of learning, through the core skills like critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication and many other skills.
With the language resilience knowledge, her learners are now able to translate most things in both the local language and English and can express themselves with ease. Many learners are now regular at school because they enjoy learning in the class since its engaging and things are being taught in the language they understand.
Through peer to peer learning, learners including those with intellectual disabilities have been supported more by grouping them according to their tribes and abilities. This mode of teaching has also helped improve the teacher pupil relationship as the learners freely interact with her now.
THE BRITISH COUNCIL TRAINING EMPOWERED AND SHAPED ME INTO A BETTER LEADER”
Greem Ryeeza was a deputy head teacher in Maratatu p/s and is now the deputy head teacher in Nyamiganda primary school who handles the P.7 class as well as administrative work.
“The British Council language resilience project came at the right time to address the knowledge gap that was in existence by equipping us with management skills, leadership skills, language bridging skills, support supervision of teachers and teachers wellbeing” Greem said.
The knowledge and skills have helped him ease support supervision of teachers in school for example they offer supervision during learning to ensure that language resilience principles are being used in all subjects. At top management level, they have encouraged other teachers to use different languages spoken by learners in school according to the class, with the aid of classroom assistants and sometimes even learning aids to enhance the learning process.
‘We have already registered successes courtesy of the Language resilience project for example there is a good teacher -pupils’ rapport and relationship, improvement in the teacher’s professional ethics and awareness, and improved teaching and learning due to the translated materials used in class.’ Greem states
The British council project has been so impactful in a way that learners have gained courage to speak out during class and the morale of studying has been improved. Behavioural change has been evident among learners, and teachers are now competent enough with quality support and supervision. And lastly the attendance has improved and is regular among learners since they enjoy the interactive classes.
Greem advocates for more capacity building sessions for teachers whenever there is a chance as this will continue to improve teaching and learning.
I’VE CHANGED MY WAY OF WELCOMING MY LEARNERS TO CLASS BECAUSE I WANT THEM TO FEEL LOVED AND WELCOME
AYEZE PASCAL, P.4 CLASSROOM TEACHER, LANYA PRIMARY SCHOOL
I changed the way i welcome learners in my class and school as part of my action plan taken after the British Council L4R training last year. I developed this interest because I wanted my learners to feel loved, welcomed, important and have value like any other human being regardless of their size, age, gender or work such that they can develop more interest in coming to school every day, loving their teachers and have self-confidence so that they do not feel like strangers
“The first thing I always do when I receive a learner is talk to them in their familiar language for a few minutes even if I only greet them. This is to reduce any sense of them feeling like a stranger. I then sit them down with a group of children who speak the same language so that the child can fit in the class and catch up with the rest of the learners”.
At the end of the first lesson and on other occasions during the week I speak to the children and check how they are feeling, I make contact with the parents so that I have a little background of the children and I also advice the parents on how to support their children with any struggles they may be facing in school and encourage them to develop more love in their studies, I do this throughout the term.
I always involve other teachers when it is time for guidance and counselling during assemblies and inform them about the importance of welcoming the learners in class/school where they are teaching to make them feel more welcome.
Many successes were registered since I started implementing my action plan, the relationship between me and my learners has greatly improved, the enrollment of the school has greatly increased, the performance of the learners is the major success registered, the relationship amongst learners is also another achievement so far, improvement in the level of English speaking among learners as a result of scaffolding and use of multi-lingual languages in teaching has also been seen, improvement in reading, writing, spelling, pronunciation, Debating, etc. Lastly there is great improvement in the relationship between teachers and parents
My action plan has had a lot of positive impact in various areas, in young people most especially the learners I teach and interact with, I have realised a lot of changes in the ways they actively engage themselves in the daily school activities, there are also positive changes in behaviours, majority of them have picked a lot of interest in learning English Language hence improvement in performance among these learners
As a teacher, this project really means a lot because it has made me gain a lot of skills and techniques more especially scaffolding of my lessons, conducting impactful remedial classes, encouraged the use of multi-lingual languages in teaching etc. Other teachers have also been impressed by the project as much as they were not trained. The headteacher had always been supportive in the use of multi-lingual languages scaffolding of lessons, remedial class, etc. this always motivates other teachers who are not trained to join efforts together. On curriculum, there has been positive impact more especially in terms of syllabus coverage, this is because of the motivation teachers got from the progress of learners.
IMPROVING LEARNING FOR STUDENTS THROUGH THE SUPPORT OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING SESSIONS
GIRE ROSE, P.3 CLASSROOM TEACHER, LANYA PRIMARY SCHOOL
At first I came up with an action plan on scaffolding which mainly addressed the use of local languages while teaching the learners, so that they can understand better. I personally had this in my plan because it could address the issues of my learners understanding very fast during lessons. For example, some learners in my class would not understand crops grown in our sub-county when mentioned in English like potato, but when I switched potatoes to “kata” and tomatoes to “Nyanya” in Kakwa the learners were able to understand me very fast, which was really encouraging. In this Refugee setting many languages are used by the learners like Arabic, Kakwa, Kehiko, and Lugbara hence necessary to use scaffolding as the best method in teaching. But I realised that these students need more support.
“Apart from classroom work, one of the key areas I noted needed more help was emotional support towards the studend, and this could be done through organising guidance and counselling sessions for learners from primary three to seven between ages of 8-15 years”.
The sessions were started and during these sessions, many languages are used, since most learners in lower primary do not understand/learn english quickly as the older learners do. For them, these sessions are conducted twice a term reaching 240 learners (115M, 125F)
I have always involved teachers during guidance and counselling sessions to handle different topics. We have clubs in our school such as Anti-GBV Clubs, Child’s Rights club, during the club’s activities I engage both the learners and teachers
As a result of these sessions, the performance greatly improved amongst the learners especially in classrooms. This is because learners were given a safe space to address their concerns, which eased some of the stress and enable them to learn with a clearer mind. Ontop of that, the localizing of lessons also played a part in the improvement of performances, through continuous expression of new words or vocabulary into the familiar languages which strengthened their level of understanding better. This has encouraged learners to enjoy classes more, those with difficulties of understanding are still able to catch up with the fast learners in class.
I however encountered some challenges in the use of some of the familiar languages like Keliko, in this regard I was later on able to use some learners in class who could speak both languages to do peer to peer learning in the classroom when I was unable to translate. It turned out as a challenge because teachers who could speak certain languages failed to implement this method. In relation to the above, some teachers had a negative attitude towards scaffolding, some insisted that it is too difficult to use the familiar language of learners during other school activities like debates, and other children could sometimes be punished if heard using any language other than English. But I am happy to report that teachers were able to adjust to the use of Bilingual and Multilingual languages in the school as time went by.
Using these method has made it easier for us to prepare our lesson plans and equally break certain key concepts in the learner’s familiar language. This made teaching and learning interesting to both learners and the teachers hence increased regular attendance. There has also been a reduction in the work load to me as a teacher, as peer to peer learning now takes place in my classroom environment which has encouraged slow learners to pick up very fast. Furthermore, this method has made me learn many familiar languages the learners use for example Arabic which use not to be the case. It has made me to be praised as the best teacher whose subject is being passed with flying colours by most learners in my class
ADDRESSING READING AND WRITING TO MAKE LEARNERS BECOME FLUENT IN BOTH SPOKEN AND WRITTEN LANGUAGE.
OKELLO FRED, P.3 CLASSROOM TEACHER, OFUA 3 PRIMARY SCHOOL
In P.1 -P.3, we are doing phonetic teaching to build up basic concept language (word) and in upper classes, we normally do peer to peer support teaching and learning at school under supervision of teachers. We use teaching Aids like sound charts, sounds with action, songs and simple words in the word list and the trained teachers and school managers supervise other teachers who are conducting lessons.
We are trying to address reading and writing to make learners become more fluent in both spoken and written language (English). The key activities we are doing is to correct the pronunciation and writing of words.
The teachers are put to supervise groups of eight learners with at least one teacher supervising each group. If all groups are sufficiently covered, the other teachers sit in the class to provide additional support in terms of supervision where need be. Furthermore, the learners are free to hold discussions in the language they are accustomed to and it becomes easier since they are able to explain scenarios to the others either in English or the local language.
In general, the presence of other teachers make the pupils become more interested in learning through active participation in interaction in their local language and English.
Successes so far include active participation in class by the children, positive competitions in learning by the children, improved cooperation among teachers and the children, increased pupil attendances at school and free expression in English and the local language.
Challenges encountered include teachers’ dialects which affect pronunciation of words or sounds of words, less time on the school teaching timetable which affects its implementation, poor attitude towards teamwork by other teaching staff, inadequate preparations by other teaching staff in terms of teaching aid and lesson plan in relation to the local and English language and poor attitude towards placement by both pupils, parents and other teachers.
In overcoming the challenges, the following have been enforced; Holding weekly meetings, adjustment in the school teaching timetable, PTA executives involved to guide the parents, learners and teachers, large classes are divided into smaller groups, regular supervision by the organisations supervisor and school management and guidance and counselling to pupils, parents and teachers by the school management.
Impacts realized include improved cooperation among young people, good relationships among young people since they are able to speak using a similar language that they understand, improved learners attitude towards learning and improved.
As a teacher, it has eased teaching and learning and cooperation among other teachers. t has encouraged effective supervision by the head teacher of the school.
Finally, I want to thank the British Council through Windle International Uganda for their good support towards implementation of our action plan.
I GOT LEARNERS TO ENJOY LEARNING THROUGH READING
AYUUKU AUGUSTINE ARAMI, P.4 CLASS TEACHER, OFUA 2 PRIMARY SCHOOL
As my action plan taken after the British Council L4R training, I convened a staff meeting to give awareness to the teachers on embedding core skills, inclusion and the leadership skills/practices to enhance language acquisition of the refugees and host communities.
I also instructed teachers to form English support class and have their time be included in the school master and class timetables, including time for library use too.
Additional to the above, there are classical reading clubs formed consisting of 30 members each of mixed gender, 15 males and 15 females and the ages vary from 9 years to 18 years. These activities of reading runs in turns with debate for both upper and lower primary classes every Friday.
Records of which books are read and the topics debated upon are produced and filled by the teachers.
All these efforts were geared towards understanding and using English as a language in a multilingual setting as a medium of communication by the refugee learners and consequently improving their performance.
The key activity is to read variety of reading materials in the school, class, in the library or even at home over the weekends. This is to enable the learners to become more familiar with the English language and will encourage them to practise how to speak it.
The successes so far registered through these methods include formation of reading and debating clubs among the students, learners and teachers using the time allocated for reading and debating strictly. Learners also developed a good habit and interest in reading and coming to borrow books from the library and they now freely express themselves in English. The school has also been able to acquire a small library of books which was not in place before the training. The administration is encouraged by the positive attitude of both the learners and the teachers with the efforts they are putting in.
Challenges faced in the process include; No library block or room in the schools, Inadequate reading books for the learners., Learners speak different languages which makes it hard for them to interact. Some books tell stories of western world that isn’t related to the childrens environment, some learners have challenges in reading, pronouncing words and even writing correct spellings of some words and lack of improved technologies to aid reading such as computers and projectors.
Some of the challenges have been addressed through the use of classrooms during library hours since there are no permanent libraries. Soliciting for more reading materials through organisations like BOOKAID that promotes education, introducing programmes for each learner to access the library books and encourage the learners to return books and take care of the books properly when they borrow to allow others also have access to the books too.
The efforts have positively developed interest in reading and borrowing books, the learners are able to express themselves averagely well in English when conversing with each other, the learners are able to read and write and have developed positive attitude of joining the schools’ clubs and also remain to read at school.
To me as a teacher, it has developed an interest in organising learners for the activities assigned to them, the teachers are able to take duty/responsibilities assigned to them seriously, gained skills of getting solutions to specific learners’ problems which are addressed and finally there has been an improvement in the relationship between the learners and the teachers because of the constant interaction between the learners and the teachers.
Because of free interaction with each other, the curriculum areas like good life skills, effective communication, critical thinking, creative writing and values like love, cooperation, sharing, respect, and empathy are developed. We have registered two cases of girls who have returned to school because of the parental encouragement through our interactions. “We are happy and love this project, we wish it expanded and provides us with more reading books.” States on one of the learners