Last weekend and this week, T4T is organizing 6 workshops in Kwale County. 2 workshops for primary school teachers (primary education), 2 workshops for ECD teachers (pre-primary education), 1 workshop for secondary schools (secondary education) and 1 for SNE (special education).
Special is that in all these workshops Kenyan workshop leaders are in charge in pairs. These Kenyan workshop leaders are T4T graduate school leaders and they have been involved in our programs for many years.
We visited various workshops together with Francis. In this blog I focus on a workshop for teachers for children with special needs and secondary education.
Special Needs Education (SNE) is looking for opportunities
For example, on Saturday we arrived at a workshop for SNE, where colorfully dressed teachers worked hard in a colorful room. The space is not only filled with colorful colors literally, but also figuratively. These special education teachers followed the SNE workshop here, they are used to their daily practice. In a country where it is already a major challenge to provide children with a good education, this challenge may be even greater for the children they have in their classrooms. But, as they themselves emphasize: ‘If you think in terms of possibilities and not in disabilities’, a lot is possible.’
In this workshop they zoom in on the behavior of their learners and the options for interventions, so that a child’s behavior does not hinder learning as much. For children who show withdrawn behavior, they think that giving them more responsibilities could help. For example, hyperactive students could be given tasks in which they can expend their energy. They exchange practical examples, such as having materials collected, but also giving a child with this behavior more schoolwork. It is special to see that in this workshop there is a lot of open discussion about physical self-stimulation (stimming) of children. Perhaps a sensitive subject, but solutions are being sought to influence this behavior, so that learning does not stand in the way. Both tight pants and pants that are too loose are mentioned as more practical solutions. It is perhaps even more important that they believe that this behavior should be discussed with parents in order to reach agreements together. In addition, they are well aware that familiarity with the cause of behavior is a precondition for arriving at solutions.
It is striking in this workshop that, although this Kenyan workshop duo is working together for the first time, they are already very well attuned to each other. While one person likes to take control and immediately wants to add information after a presentation, the other immediately stops this and says that it is better to first ask for reactions from the participants. Where this could possibly lead to mutual irritation, this is not the case with this duo. They stand in front of the group with a big smile and with space and respect for each other. They both visibly enjoy their roles.
Secondary education and ICT
The workshop for secondary education focuses on ICT integration within the lessons. Even turning the necessary equipment on and off is practiced in turns. There is often a lot of laughter, because where does that plug have to go in and do you press this button 1 or 2 times. And that with a beamer lamp that always needs 15 minutes to cool down. So, pole pole. Of course it still feels uncomfortable, but in the Netherlands too, teachers are still regularly with their hands in their hair. It’s nice to hear that these participants also have their reservations about ICT integration. ‘Won’t the teacher then send even more than now?‘ We are also familiar with this dilemma from our practice in the Netherlands. It will certainly take years before ICT resources are widely available in the schools here, but telephones with mobile internet are already available to most teachers. The development of mobile telephony has gone fast in Kenya. Another advantage that the participants exchange is that communication with parents could be improved in this way.
The atmosphere is also good in the other workshops we have visited so far. There is enthusiastic cooperation and ideas are exchanged. At the primary education workshops, for example, you can see that the workshop leaders have previously worked with this ‘axe’. The children of County Kwale are lucky that their teachers want to take refresher courses on their day off.
In all the meetings we have seen, the teachers emphasize that they value the cooperation with us so much, but also that they are proud of what they achieve together in the workshop. The meeting is so appreciated. Meeting and exchange in workshops led with enthusiasm by our Kenyan colleagues.