A Phone Call With Teacher Multiplier Noel of E.P. Bihungwe School

This is part two of a three-part series of exclusive interviews from stakeholders of E.P. Bihungwe school. Head here for part one.

You may remember E.P. Bihungwe, one of the schools featured in our Gala Film this past May. While this school has been taking some major steps towards inclusion and ensuring every student—like Charity*—belongs and thrives in the classroom, they too have been facing the challenges (and setbacks) that come with months of on-and-off school closures.

Though schools were closed, students were learning from home, and our trainers were working remotely, they were hard at work adapting and innovating their work to keep supporting school communities. Between connecting with and supporting parents, teachers, and school leaders by phone and text and preparing for school reopening, our team remained committed to the cause of quality education and all those involved. 

While taking their hands-on and face-to-face work online had its own learning curves for our social and people-focused team, they remained steadfast and walked with our partner schools and stakeholders, knowing that the future of quality education was, and still is, at risk. They leveraged technology to remain connected to our school communities, including Bihungwe school.

Our trainers had the opportunity to connect via phone with teacher multiplier Noel to hear his experiences of teaching during the pandemic, supporting his class, and how your support of Wellspring has directly impacted him during this time.

What was your teaching style before Wellspring? How did your students respond? What was their performance like?

Before attending Wellspring training, I used to control every learning activity of the teaching and learning of my students. I was not using a learner-centered approach with my students in the classroom. I made every lesson about me and what I want and not what the student wants. This method of teaching resulted in poor motivation for the learners. 

Because students’ motivation and participation was poor, the performance also was poor.

Students were punished with corporal punishments whenever they made mistakes. Student participation in the classroom was not considered important; in other words, they were obliged to passively follow me. Teachers did not praise students with good performance, nor were poor performers supported to motivate them in learning. That was my style of teaching!

What was the biggest lesson you learned from Wellspring training? How have you used it in your teaching? How has your class responded to or transformed as a result?

The biggest lesson I learned from Wellspring training and teacher support activities is to choose, implement and assess the values in every lesson that takes place in my classroom.

Now, I allow my learners to use their heads, hands, and hearts through the various teaching aids I use in my lessons, such as stories, pictures, and facts of things around us. For example, while teaching plants, I let them think, touch, and feel, which has led my students to engage and make good decisions. These teaching aids have helped them keep the environment clean, water plants in their communities, and plant more plants because of the values they have developed through the lessons.   

How do you get students involved in their lessons? What kind of teaching aids do you use in your lessons?

When it comes to engaging the learners in the classroom, I always use group assignments shared among learners. As the group work goes on, I facilitate the groups by ensuring that every learner is involved and working together. I l provide feedback and praise while the group is going on. I use abstract and tangible materials by working with learners to collect and make teaching aids. For example, when teaching toys in P4 class, I work with learners to make a number of them, like cars using wires and pots using clay.

To encourage my learners, I use Flowers, bravo, claps, songs and games to motivate the class.

What do you love most about your job as a teacher?

I decided to become a teacher at a very early age because my father was a teacher. I grew up liking the profession of teaching. Therefore, I like supporting learners to perform better at school and in life. I reward and award the best performers and encourage poor performers to be at the forefront of every learning activity.

I do this to ensure that every learner is cared for, considered, and provided for to meet their learning needs.

It’s clear to see Teacher Noel’s heart for quality education! Along with Head Teacher Judith, the staff of Bihungwe school is making great strides towards equipping every student with the character, tools, and knowledge they need to thrive.  

Bihungwe is involved in our School Partner Program, a sustainable and transformative partnership between you and your partner school. It offers school communities the opportunity to pursue long-term, holistic transformation, all centered around every child’s learning and the advancement of quality education. Will you come alongside E.P. Bihungwe in their journey of transformation?

Head here for part one, and here for part three of this interview series to meet and hear from Parent Pierre!