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Growing Thinking Schools in Ethiopia …

Posted on the 12th November 2015

Since 2009, Robert Price has been developing Thinking Schools Ethiopia, facilitating training with school educators and NGOs.  However, in the past 18 months the project has been building momentum, culminating in the current Growing Thinking Schools Project in Tigray, Ethiopia. What began with a social media connection is now 37 laboratory model schools representing 12 Woredas (districts) in all seven regional zones. Robert explains further:

‘Thinking Schools Ethiopia is a grass roots evolution. I have been the global trainer since the beginning of the project with the support of David Hyerle’s collaboration, who is currently conducting training in Tigray for three universities as I write this guest blog.  The Thinking Schools Ethiopia project is very much a ‘community for change’ in spirit and implementation. It has employed the ‘Trainer of Trainer’  model,  training on methods for whole school Thinking Schools change as well as apprenticing the trainers as school change leaders.  It began simply with the ‘Thinking Schools’ method of training to a variety of whole schools. It has now evolved into well organized regional training in the northern state of Tigray. 

The Tigray project began in June 2014 with training for 80 Tigray Education Bureau Experts, who represent the whole region.  By March 2015 funding for the project was sourced through Initiative Africa, administering funding for whole school change with a focus on empowerment for girls.  In June 2015 myself, Atsede and Dagim conducted training for leadership teams of 8 people from each of the model schools in three regional locations:  Wukro, Aksum and Shire.  This was followed in October 2015 by conducting training for Trainer of Trainers from each of the 37 schools (most were previously part of the leadership team training).  Once completed the same team facilitated large scale training in the three regional locations with the Trainer of Trainers leading their schools under my guidance. From Wukro there were 350 educators from 19 schools, Aksum had 225 from 9 schools and from Shire there were 225 educators from 9 schools.  Atsede and Dagim will continue to provide support and guidance for all schools over the forthcoming months, and in January 2016, further Trainer of Trainers and Leadership trainings will take place.

Dagim Melese is the co-country lead trainer for the Tigray and below, he gives further detail to the approach followed for the most recent training in October, to over 850 educators’.

Whole School Staff Training for developing models of Thinking Schools in Tigray region
Thinking Schools International (TSI) and Thinking Schools Ethiopia (TSE) facilitated whole staff training for educators of 37 laboratory schools in Tigray region. The schools involved two primary schools and a high school from each of the 12 Woredas of the Zonal Administrations in Tigray and one additional school in the Mekelle area. The TSI Global Trainer Robert Seth Price, and the TSE Global Trainers Atsede Tsehayou and Dagim Melese collaborated on facilitating the professional development.
The training had begun with the leadership team of schools and experts from Tigray Education Bureau, the Teacher Education Colleges and Mekelle University. Deciding upon the model’s importance to the government school systems in the region, TDA (Tigray Development Association) planned the development of 37 Thinking Schools in 12 Woredas (districts) of the region.  Following from the principle of whole school transformational change processes the training then was facilitated to most of educators at Wukiro , Aksum and Shira training sites.

Whole School Professional Development Training:  Two Days at Three Regional Locations: Wukro, Aksum and Shire
Subsequently a two days whole staff training was undertaken for over 350 teacher educators under the leadership role of the ToT trainers in Wukro, another 2 day training in Aksum for 225, and Shire for 240. The ToT trainers played key role in effectively transferring via modeling the essential components of the training to ALL educators from Wukro. After the two days training teachers from 2 primary and 1 secondary schools from each Woreda  came up with their plan (in a Flow Map) of whole school implementation of Thinking Maps in their respective schools.  Of note, the training hall at the Wukro site, an auditorium with a Catholic School, contributed significantly to the success of the overall training there.  It was superb in space, excellent in sound, and sufficient quality chairs and tables for the large group.

The Growing Thinking Schools Inside Out handbook guide was translated to Tigrinya which was welcomed by all the participants, especially the ones who had been in the initial school leadership trainings when the guide was in English. From this training, the translation will be further refined.  Additionally a Student Practice Guide was developed and shared with all participants to comment on prior to translating the final guides for primary and secondary implementation. The training has been conducted by the TSE trainers whom speak both Tigrinya and Amharic.

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