Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Inspiring Teachers; Impacting Students"

 Our school, Foundations Academy, hosted a teachers' conference for 300 teachers from the Jos area on Saturday, February 1. What a great day it was! We originally planned for 250, but due to intense pleading, we had to find a way to squeeze 50 more seats into our hall!


We kicked off the morning with a powerful keynote address by Mrs. Juliet Okafor on "Read Aloud." She exhorted us to read aloud to our children--both those at home and those in our classrooms. This is a fairly new concept to many people. In fact one man wrote in his evaluation: "I consider myself an educated man, but I have never sat down to read to my children for even 15 minutes."

Mr. David Onotu, Foundations Academy teacher, rendered a powerful Spoken Word original poem on the value of education and reading. (Check tomorrow for the text of his poem.) I had read his poem before the conference (and I thought it was great), but the dramatized reading gave me chills and brought tears to a few eyes. A number of conference participants said David's poem was one of the best parts of the entire day. 

Dr. Danny McCain, professor at the University of Jos, delivered a fine keynote address entitled "For the Love of Learning." He challenged us as educators to help students to learn just for the love of discovering something new. He made one of his points based on Proverbs 25:2--
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

God knows everything. It brings him delight to see his children discovering what he has hidden, and we in turn are delighted as we discover his hidden secrets.

We are grateful to Dr. McCain for his powerful challenge to us as teachers.

After a brief snack time, we delved into our workshop sessions. We had enough resource people on hand from Foundations Academy as well as other schools, that we were able to offer 25 different workshops! The worst part for our participants was the agony of choosing just 4! We had to offer that many workshops because our rooms are quite small and we needed enough space for everyone to spread out. It was hard to predict which workshops would attract the most people; consequently, we often had scenes like this:

Miss Happy Jonah even gave her workshop under a canopy because we ran out of classrooms!

Math is Fun was a popular workshop. Miss Jess explained ways that learning math can actually be fun and exciting.
 Mrs. Ann Williams of Westwood Park School taught the teachers about different learning styles of students.

Mr. Palai Ubanmutane, Foundations Academy Primary 2 teacher and principal, demonstrated how to use charts and drill methods to help children learn their basic math facts.

I led a workshop called "Teacher Training." I shared my strong conviction that every school needs to develop their own teacher training program. Yes, most of our teachers have degrees, but teacher training still needs to be ongoing. With our Foundations Academy teachers, I train in teaching methodology as well as content areas twice a week.  A number of principals said they are renewing their commitment to really work on training their teachers. As we invest in our teachers, our students will reap the benefits.

Our principal of Foundations Academy, Mrs. Titilayo Adetula, gave a workshop on how we are handling older students who can't read or do basic math. We have created a special class for them called "Foundations." After they are able to read and handle basic math, we put them into a regular class. 

Mr. Beka of Foundations Academy led a workshop on how to incorporate games when learning some math concepts.

Mrs. Mary Onuminya led a very popular workshop called "Better English." The participants just loved it!
Mrs. Rosie Egena presented a workshop on teaching methods for nursery/preschool aged children. During our final closing session a few people were given the opportunity to share what they had gained from the conference. One woman rose from her seat, took the microphone, and said she was astounded to learn that play can be considered a teaching method for young children. (This is why events like this conference are so important.)

Mr. Hosea Danjuma of Firm Foundations is absolutely passionate about using phonics to teach reading. In fact, he almost radiates when he starts speaking about phonics. He and Mrs. Marlene Wiebe have developed a phonics manual which they are field testing now.  Many schools teach reading with a 'see-and-say' method--not phonics.

Mrs. Rachel Harley demonstrated how to bring Bible stories to life in the classroom. She is a bundle of energy--I saw heads nearly exploding as people tried to explain all the ideas she imparted.

Miss Anna Ovonlen of Foundations Academy gave a workshop on teaching methods for the upper level math classes.
 Mrs. Blessing Phillips, Bezer Home houseparent (foreground) cooked a wonderful rice meal for more than 300 people that day. She had a lot of helping hands, but she was the mastermind behind it all.

We are so proud of our prefects (older students in the school who have been given responsibility). They worked very hard that day and really made us proud. 

 Bayo was there too. He was trying to get the media to come and cover the event. He was successful!

A committee of nine Foundations Academy teachers worked hard to make the conference a success. We have discovered there is a sense of excitement and encouragement whenever we host a conference. We love seeing teachers develop a passion for teaching. We will do what we can to further the cause of education in Nigeria. 

1 comment:

Juliet Chris-Okafor said...

Truth be told, teachers were INSPIRED but are students being impacted? Teachers the ball is in your court, you can vhange the world one child at a time. Great Job Foundation Academy! As you have watered may u also be watered in Jesus name Amen.