On April 17th we had a special professional development day with the LDS Primary School Faculty. With the help of the LDS College principal and our visiting coordinators from New Zealand, it was a day to remember. As always we started out with a song and prayer to get everyone in the right frame of mind. Our LDS College principal, Michael Carthew then presented the topic of the day, becoming a Zion school and faculty. His remarks were inspiring and touched many of the teachers as we noticed and observed their reactions to what was being said. He talked about what makes up a Zion school and what should be our mission in church schools. Michael went on to introduce the concepts of spirituality, vision, unity, and excellence and how each one turns an ordinary school into a Zion school. Also, Michael also presented a refresher of the SIOP model which helped the teachers refocus on learning for students where English is not their first language. The church schools in Fiji are taught in English but most of the students have English as a second language. It is a challenge for teachers to teach in English when some children enter school with very limited English speaking skills.
After Michael finished, we took his presentation to the next level and presented the concept of Community of Learning and becoming a Zion faculty. If we are to become a Zion School, then we need to become a Zion Faculty.
As we presented, there was a great discussion and interaction among the faculty and staff as to what it will take to move the a Zion faculty. It was exciting to see how the teachers were interpreting what was being presented. As we presented concepts and talked about what type of influence they can and will bring into their classrooms you could tell and see the emotions that were being developed. It was awesome to see the change in their thought process and how they might use this information to make a difference in a child’s life and education.
During the presentation we presented a scenario on how to become a Community of Learners and Paula taught a reading lesson as if she was teaching to a elementary (primary) class. She took about 10 minutes and the faculty were to be observers in her classroom.
As she was teaching, the observers were to be thinking that their students were being taught by Paula. We asked the teachers to collect information from the lesson so they could have a conversation with Paula after the teaching segment. The conversation would center around three questions:
1. What went well in the teaching segment?
2. What didn’t go so well (remember, the observers were thinking about Paula teaching their students).
3. If you would teach this lesson again, what might you do differently?
When Paula was finished teaching we were pleasantly surprised that the teachers engaged in the conversation and really started talking about what went well and how they might do some things in their classrooms. They talked about their classrooms and what they might try in the future. It was fun to see and feel their minds working to come up with new ideas about teaching.
As with all professional development, there is a need to make sure that the time that was spent in professional development did not go to waste so we challenged the faculty to become involved with the teaching/learning process. The concept of Community of Learning was introduced and each faculty member was challenged to go into another faculty member’s classroom and observe a segment of a lesson and then by using the three questions we introduced with Paula’s lesson, they were to have a conversation with their teacher who they were observing and talk about what happened in their observation. We will be monitoring this process and having a follow-up session with the faculty as they move forward the concept,”teaching one another.”
After our professional development presentation, we presented each faculty member and administrator with a tee-shirt. Since they wanted to become a Zion Primary School and a Zion Faculty, we thought it appropriate to let the world know what was happening in the Fiji LDS Primary School.
This was a wonderful professional development session and we believe that the school and faculty will make a difference for children, both spiritually and educationally. By working together in a “Community of Learning” both the teachers and students will learn and understand that we are all “children of our Heavenly Father,” and we need to teach one another.
After the professional development session, the faculty honored our guests from New Zealand, Elder and Sister Jacobsen, who are the coordinators of the ITEP missionary program of the church. Here are a few pictures that will show their love and appreciation for the Jacobsen’s as they will be ending their mission and going home in June.
They were presented with a gift to remember their time in Fiji. They were also sung to with a traditional song that Fijians sing when someone leaves that they love and admire. In the picture you can see the faculty waving goodbye. In the church that means, “until we meet again.”
After the presentation the faculty had something to eat…we needed to get back to the college for an Easter Devotional so we missed out, oh darn! :)
It was a wonderful experience and a great day!