Since our last post in June, a lot has happened. We had our camera have a problem and it could not be fixed here in Fiji without having to take out a loan as it would have to be sent to Australia and then they would not guarantee that it could be fixed. It was a Canon that was about 10 years old and they did not know if the LCD panel could be replaced. Along with that the shipping, repairing charges and then the return shipping with Fiji import taxes would be more than the camera was worth so we decided to get a new camera. It is really a nice camera with all the bells and whistles.
Since our last post we have presented four professional development sessions with two at the Primary School and two at the College, We are helping the teachers identify their teaching styles and their learning styles. There were many surprises with both the Primary and College faculties. It was a revelation to many teachers of how they teach children and how they learn themselves. As we discussed each of the four styles of both teaching and learning, the faculties started to see how the different styles both teaching and learning interacted with each other. We had a great deal of fun with both faculties and it was a very valuable learning experience for all of them.
The real valuable of these experiences was the teachers understood that in their classrooms they have students who learn in different ways and not always how the teacher was teaching. We discussed about the different teaching techniques that are needed to reach students learning styles. Our next few sessions is to have each of the students find out how they learn and then we will share that with both faculties so they will know what type of learners are in their classes. Then the fun begins!
At the same time we are working on teaching styles and learning styles with both teachers and students, Paula is leading a workshop with the Primary teachers on incorporating the Informal Reading Inventory (IRI) that helps the primary teachers evaluate the students reading ability in the area of comprehension, which includes identifying the main idea, cause and effect, inferencing and vocabulary as well as details, and sequencing. At this point the teachers have shown great interest in this process as they are eager to help their students become better readers as well as better learners of the English language.
If all of that is not enough, we have proposed a course titled,”Becoming a Zion School Through Effective Teaching.” We are going to incorporate different teaching techniques that help the teachers with different learning styles that will assist the students with a better opportunity to grasp the content that is being presented in class. The concept that was introduced to them earlier in a previous professional development session, that being the “Community of Learning,” will allow the teachers to visit each other’s classroom and observe teachers working on different teaching styles so they can visualize how different styles are taught and how students respond to different styles of teaching. We along with the teachers are excited to get the process started and evaluate the outcomes of such an initiative.
The teachers here are very dedicated to the profession but have not had the vision of change and looking at new strategies of impacting a student’s educational experience. We believe that their vision is changing as their desire to look and experience something different is very evident. Miracles can happen if there is a desire to improve. We look forward to blogging on this topic as it is presented and the teachers have an opportunity to put it into practice,
We love this work and to see the teachers come alive is really a gratifying experience. When the light bulb comes on the room becomes an exciting place. Traditionally the Fijians are a respectful and quiet people, however, we have noticed that when they make connections to what they do and what can happen in their classroom, they come alive. Tears start flowing and discussion takes place,at that point Paula and Bob step back and let it happen. We look at it as we provide rationale and information and then get out of their way so they can make it happen.
This is an amazing experience and one that has touched our hearts as we interact with teachers 7000 miles away from home and it is like we have known them all our lives. These people are amazing and their spirit is alive and well. The Lord is directing them and they are willing to allow the spirit to come in and help them in their work.
The following picture shows Paula teaching how to administer the Informal Reading Inventory (IRI). She does such a good job in teaching the teachers.
Here, Bob is presenting some material of identifying the teacher’s teaching style. This was an eye-opening activity for many of the teachers at both the Primary School and the LDS College. They had never experienced this type of activity and were very impressed on the accuracy of the inventory.
The LDS College faculty taking the Teaching Style Inventory. Even the principal and both assistant principal’s wanted to know about their style.
As missionaries who were called to Fiji to help teachers improve their teaching skills, we are seeing and experiencing a paradigm shift and look forward to seeing the results of what the teacher’s are doing.