By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
Last week, our Mali staff were in the field again. They traveled to a group of our farthest-flung schools near the border with Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast to conduct a pre-training evaluation of eight teachers at four schools.
These evaluations are done in partnership with a Mali-based teacher training firm we work with each year. The experts at the firm use a set protocol to observe the teachers in action with students and to review the teachers' lesson preparation and follow-up.
Why do we invest in all of this monitoring? Well, there are two core reasons. First, the pre-training evaluations allow us to design a training tailored to the specific needs we're seeing in the classroom. This makes sure we're using the valuable training time efficiently...not delivering some theoretical idea of what we think the teachers need.
Second, it allows us to truly measure the benefits of the training. We do this by following up with a post-training evaluation of the same teachers in the same classrooms several months after their training. Historically, we've seen a 13-18% overall improvement in teacher skills, with a much higher rate of improvement on skills specifically targeted in the training.
What did this year's pre-training evaluations find? A lot! Some positive findings included:
- Teachers did a good job of reminding students of the previous day's lesson and building from that.
- Teachers clearly communicated the lesson of the day and defined clear objectives for the lesson.
- Teachers regularly implemented engaging and active learning techniques (something we've been really working on with our teachers!)
A few of the areas identified as in need of improvement and training included:
- Strategies for managing large class sizes (some of our classes have as many as 100 students!)
- Responding to students engagement in a positive fashion (e.g., great job, exactly right, not quite but a good try)
- Drawing out girls in the classroom
- Using teaching tools in a creative and efficient manner
This provides us with a wonderful basis for designing the best possible training for our teachers.
Thanks to our generous supporters, at the end of this month approximately 35 teachers will gather together with our experts for 5 days of learning and sharing on these and other topics. Stay tuned!