This Month in the Field: Teacher Peer Meetings

By Merritt Frey, Executive Director

This month we hosted one of our favorite small gatherings -- a teacher peer-to-peer meeting. Mali Rising Foundation invests in our teachers because they are investing in our students. Without good teachers, a school is just a building. Teachers in Mali are given very little training, and struggle to teach large classes (100+ students!) with few learning tools...even textbooks are rare.

Teacher peer-to-peer meetings are part of a larger strategy that includes annual professional training for our teachers, an investment in classroom materials, and more. These tactics are all designed to make sure the education in our schools is a quality education that gives students the skills they need to succeed in the classroom and in life.

Teacher peer-to-peer meetings are held throughout the school year, as a way to make sure the teacher training lessons are continued after the teachers return to their classrooms. Each meeting brings together 5 to 8 teachers from different schools for a day of learning from each other and sharing ideas.

This most recent peer-to-peer meeting included 8 teachers from three of our schools -- Lareen Mellor Middle School in Kassela, Tim Gibson Middle School in Sebela, and Little Heroes Academy II in Tanima. We specifically focused on math, physics, chemistry and natural sciences teachers to they could share ideas on their special subjects.

Teachers met from 9am to 4pm on a Sunday (dedicated teachers!). An expert from the local office of the Ministry of Education attended as well, and our Field Director Alou facilitated the meeting. Most of the day was spent with each teacher presenting a sample lesson, just as if they were presenting to their students. The other teachers acted as "students" and after the lesson provided constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

In addition to the formal presentations, we find the teachers love these meetings simply as a chance to compare challenges and ideas with their peers from other schools. We all know the terrible feeling of slogging through work feeling alone and adrift -- sometimes all you need is a little support from a peer!

Thank you to all the generous donors who sponsored a teacher for training and support at the 2017 Soiree -- you made this great gathering possible.