It felt like I was back in my old classroom watching my Ag Government students persuade their fellow legislators to pass their bill. Or when Jason finally understood how to properly fill the energy levels of chromium to achieve the correct electron configuration. It felt like the time when I watched the four members of my Land Judging team cram into a five foot by five foot hole in the ground, covered in soil say, “wow, soil is so cool!” Pride. Joy. Fulfillment. Purpose. It was these same emotions that filled my heart as I sat in the back of a dusty classroom last week.
But instead of greasy self-conscious teenagers filling my heart, it was two groups of full-grown Ghanaian teachers whom I had just met. It was during the two teacher training conferences my fellow AgriCorps members and I hosted that truly brought purpose to my being here. Lesson plan design, interest approaches, engaging activities, problem-based learning, classroom management and meaningful discussion wrapped in a beautiful package complete with fun games and ice breakers consumed my life for the past two weeks. The result? Change. Real change! I thought it wasn’t possible! After months of working towards meaningful change, improvement, and development, it was during these trainings that I finally saw it. The feeling was incredible. How you may ask? I’ll tell you.
The purpose of the training was to instruct junior and senior high school teachers how to move away from lecture-only teaching to a more experiential learning style of teaching. This focussed on engaging students in the learning, incorporating activities, discussions and lessons that involve the students, requiring students to process information and apply it to a real world setting. While this isn’t groundbreaking in the States, it certainly is in Ghana. Moving away from a classroom focussed on lecture, memorization, “chalk and talk” and physical abuse to a classroom filled with meaningful, engaging lessons with a passionate teacher and healthy interactions was our goal for the trainings. It was a tall order certainly, however I believe we may have done it.
After two days of intense and engaging sessions, we asked the participants
to create and present a 10-15 lesson on a topic of their choosing. And boy did they deliver! Watching the participants deliver the lessons was incredible. And with proper monitoring, evaluation and follow-up, we hope to continually inspire these participants to incorporate the techniques they learned into their everyday classrooms. Nick and I hope to keep this momentum going by planning and hosting several more teacher training conferences throughout the spring. Hopefully, we get the same results!
Haley Clement received a bachelors and masters degree in Agricultural Education from California State University, Chico. Before becoming an AgriCorps Member, Haley taught high school agricultural education and served as an FFA advisor.