February 20, 2016 - Michael Salinger
Baobab College, Lusaka, Zambia
Our final school visit in Africa this time was also our shortest. Just one day at Baobab College on the outskirts of the city. The campus is a peacock festooned oasis of native plants and a scattering of out buildings seamlessly mixing into the surroundings.
Jill and Camille kept us busy and on schedule. Starting with an assembly for the upper school Sara and I then divided and conquered leading writing workshops with the middle and upper grade students.
These were by far the biggest, in number, classes that we worked with this tour – but teacher engagement and student willingness helped us to pull it off. There is nothing that will sink a workshop quicker than an instructor in the back of the room with their head buried in their laptop or worse yet, two or three classes put together and only one teacher staying behind. This is nothing less than a flashing neon sign exclaiming –“NOT IMPORTANT!” This does no good for the students, the presenter, or the teacher – it’s a waste of time, money and effort on everyone’s part.
This is not what happened at Baobab. Even though the sessions were big – up to 50 students – the teachers were engaged – walked around the room – co-taught – showed enthusiasm and it rubbed off on the kids.
This is how to make a visiting instructor’s session work – participate with your students – let your expertise and knowledge of your classroom’s dynamics keep things rolling along on track. Baobabs staff couldn’t have done a better job and for that Sara and I are grateful. Then to top things off – the teachers stuck around after school – ON A FRIDAY – for a PD session with us! Actions above and beyond the call of duty as far as we are concerned.
In fact the only thing we could have wished for is more time – but the calendar was against us this trip.
Here’s hoping we get to enjoy a longer stint with the students and staff at Baobab College in the not too distant future.