In 2017 in Perth, Australia at the 15th biennial conference of the International Association of Special Education, I presented a paper titled “Gaining from Training: Cultivating a Professional Persona in a Rural Setting.” It was about The Toa Nafasi Project’s teacher training program in which we hire underemployed and not necessarily well educated young Tanzanian women and provide them with in-service training to be special education tutors to our vulnerable learners in Grades One and Two in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
After my talk, I met a man named Hugh Clench from OnLine Training which was founded in 2008 “to provide flexible professional development for teachers and teaching assistants who support children and young people with special educational needs.” Hugh described a project he was working on called The Golden Teacher which provided a twofold benefit for educators. First, it offered the scaffolding of a lesson plan via non-smart phones like the little Nokias we often use in Tanzania and second, it delivered an incentive system for untrained instructors like our Toa tutors to create good plans for their students which would, in turn, yield good outcomes.
Since that meeting three years ago, we have been working to translate The Golden Teacher module into Swahili and outfit our cell phones with it. In 2020, we finally got to try out the program with our tutoring staff under Ema’s and Belina’s guidance. The report from Moshi is below!
“On Tuesday, 18th August 2020, Emmanuel Mnubi met with all the Toa tutors and presented on The Golden Teacher. Ema introduced the session by grouping the tutors in four groups as the session was conducted by using two laptops which were available and it was in practical way. The teachers had to see every step to go through in order to be a Golden Teacher.
Ema explained the meaning of a Golden Teacher and the steps involved in becoming a Golden Teacher. He gave a brief explanation about each stage to complete which are bronze, silver and then finally gold, and also he gave examples of each stage.
That day, he explained in deep and gave examples of specific areas to work on and followed all steps to become a Bronze Teacher, which is the first stage. He planned to meet with the staff again on 11th September to continue to the Silver Teacher stage.
On Friday, 11th September, Ema continued with the presentation about The Golden Teacher. He began the second session by asking the tutors to give a short explanation concerning the last period and how they understood it. The tutors showed cooperation and responded well and with knowledge.
He then explained a bit about the Silver Teacher stage, telling the tutors they should identify and carry out teaching strategies to help learners achieve their goals. He finished explaining the second stage and showed examples on how to go through it in order to become a Silver Teacher. He ended the session and planned to meet in the last session on 17th September 2020.
The final session was conducted on Thursday, 17th September 2020. Ema began the presentation by asking questions concerning the previous two sessions. The tutors participated through answering questions pointed at them and summarized what was taught in the last sessions. Then, he shared the application with few tutors (five of them), so they could test it with their students and directed them on how to use the application in classrooms. Ema agreed with tutors to meet on 28th September when the tutors should come up with the feedback on how it was applicable with their students.
The program has been great in terms of how it works, and the effectiveness it achieves. So far it is in a trial period as five of the tutors – Rehema Mpangala, Glory Mongi, Happy Njau, Hajira Lema, and Noela Kitomari, all from different schools – are using/testing it. Several kids have been put into the trial by the tutors.
According to the tutors, The Golden Teacher application is not easy to use but they are happy with it and believe by using it more often the application will become more user-friendly.
So far, the challenge is that The Golden Teacher cannot be stored in smartphones as an application and also it needs a strong internet to be accessible on the web.
Hopefully some changes can be made in the future as we keep on using it. We have agreed on using the app as all the tutors that have tried it and admitted that it is really useful and reduces the bulk of work while, at the same time, it gives tutors the ability to track changes and progress easily without so much paperwork.”