Souleymane Dembélé: A happy or lucky teacher? Let’s find it out!

By Francois Cissoko, Teacher Project Coordinator

Three girls work together on a lesson in Souleyman’s class. Encouraging teachers to use more engaging, active learning strategies is crucial in Mali, .

Three girls work together on a lesson in Souleyman’s class. Encouraging teachers to use more engaging, active learning strategies is crucial in Mali, .

Recently, one of my school visits coincided with a post-training evaluation at one of our schools – Denik Middle School in Zambougou.

Thanks to our donors, Mali Rising Foundation organizes an annual training for its partner schools’ teachers to reinforce those teachers’ skills to help them be great teachers. Before each training, there is an assessment to find out the needs of those teachers in term of which skills to teach. Last year, there were eight teachers to be used as a sample during that assessment. Souleymane was one of those. He teaches math, physics and chemistry at the middle school of Zambougou. When he was pre-assessed, he was found to have weaknesses in teaching large group classes and in engaging girls equally with boys. He then had the chance then to get training on those skills during our December 2018 Teacher Training.

Several months after the Teacher Training, we always do follow up evaluations to see if teachers have improved as a result of the training.  Last week, I was in his math class while Souleymane was being assessed.

 Before the training, we noticed that Souleymane did not teach with the active method of teaching. Like many teachers in Mali, Souleyman relied on dry lectures and rote responses from his students (“unactive” methods of teaching!). There was no chance he would split his students into different working groups. Girls were generally in the corner when students were being quizzed.

Surprisingly, when we came to his class last week, it was obvious he wasn’t that teacher we pre-evaluated five months ago. His class was neatly organized according to the active method. Students’ desks were placed face to face, so that six students could be in single group. Girls were two times numerous than boys. It could be seen that Souleymane had found techniques he could use to make girls talk and have fairness set up between girls and boys, which will help eventually eradicate girls’ shyness.

When talking to Souleymane after his class, he couldn’t hide he was a very happy teacher. Why? Because he noticed since the training not only boys, but also girls were more and more interested into his science classes. He has recovered in himself some skills he thought couldn’t be. He said it has been a great experience in his life to take part in the training. Since then, teaching became easier for him. He feels more appreciated by his students and he is proud of them too for their current hard work.

Soleymane let me a secret he would like to share with other people through me. That secret is that the training on the large group techniques he acquired and that changed his teaching way made teaching easier, like a piece of cake. Therefore, he believes now he cannot live without teaching anymore. Teaching for him is like his wife. Without teaching, he cannot feel happy.

Souleymane, what a changed man in teaching thanks to the Teacher Training. The skills’ reinforcement during the teacher training let him better use the active teaching method and feel comfortable with his job!

Souleymane says thank you to those who made that happen!