I was introduced to learner centered approach in 2019 when I joined the Connecting Classrooms through Global learning, a British Council programme that is using innovative teaching to equip students with valuable skills and knowledge to live and work anywhere in the modern world.
Schools in rural communities usually lack resources and technology and resort to old fashioned techniques of teaching and as a consequence, they fail to develop required skills of their students. Learner centered approach uses interactive approaches to engage students, build their skills such as creativity, communication, problem solving, team work and communication that are relevant to the current labour needs.
During the training, I came to the learn that the teaching in my school Nile High School was positioned around the teachers instead of the students and I came up with a plan to change the learning approach. I volunteered to lead the rest of my colleagues at school to shift the focus of learning to the students. However, the program had some challenges; the school administration was skeptical, not all teachers were trained, there was irregular student and teacher attendance, the regular load shedding and limited gadgets for digital learning.
However, with time the teachers started to see some changes in the students, the students participated in class, they were more confident and their academic performance improved. The teachers worked as a team, supporting each other in designing lesson plans that made classes interactive. Additionally, I organised team review meetings and monitored how the teachers used different strategies to engage the students. We were able to work as a team of teachers; organised debates, oriented the teachers who were not trained in this approach, monitored student attendance, organised seminars with other schools and supported different student clubs.
Over time, we are noticing notable changes to the students, teachers and school leaders at Nile High school. The students freely interact with their peers in groups, their relationship with the teachers has improved. Students started different initiatives and clubs that have planted trees and started rearing chicken. The school has adopted grouping of students during lessons, facilitating student’s discussions which has built their communication and leadership skills. The teachers and school leaders are pleased with this teaching pedagogy that provides students with a better learning experience. We are happy our school emerged among the best in the district who sat for 2019 Uganda Certificate of Education examinations.
Other teachers and leaders should understand that Connecting Classrooms is a course because it undergoes different stages, equipping teachers with new skills and knowledge at every stage and requires commitment and time management. Jackie Babirye
Jackie Babirye is a secondary school teacher in Nile High School in Kiyunga District in eastern Uganda. The school is over 140 kilo meters from Kampala, the capital. The school has a total of 1,089 students with an average class housing a total of 82 students in ‘O’ level and 100 in ‘A’ level with only 32 teachers. Jackie is one of the 600 teachers who took part in the 2019 British Council Connecting Classroom training for teachers on the 21st Century core skills.
If you would like to access our free online courses on 21st Century skills for teachers and school leaders, check out the following websites: