Cultivating Creativity

Cultivating Creativity in Teachers & Students

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those red pens after teachers grade exams? When the ink runs dry, what happens to the plastic casing? Well, we can’t give you a definitive global answer (though we hope they’re being refilled or recycled!), but we can tell you how one innovative teacher in the Gasabo district of Rwanda is using them.

Last year, Elise, a math teacher at Gihogwe School, was a member of the grading committee during national exams. As she marked exam after exam and ran through pen after pen, she noticed a pile building up on the side of her desk. All of these pens were deemed useless after the ink ran dry, but what if that wasn’t true? What if these empty pens could be used to help students learn the very thing they’re being graded on? Excited at the idea, Elise began collecting not only the dry pens that she had been using, but that others on the grading committee had been using as well. By the time the last question was marked and results were sent out to students, she had baskets full of empty pen casings. In the school break, Elise sorted through the pens and created bundles of various numbers. When the kids came back to school, she handed them out and used the pens as a way to teach multiplication. Two bundles of ten pens equals how many?

Twenty pens! Exactly.

By using bundles of locally sourced pens, Elise is not only modelling a ‘reuse’ mindset that we should all learn from, but she’s also exemplifying Wellspring’s training about teaching aids. Our trainers encourage teachers to come up with sustainable and local teaching aids that will benefit their classrooms and really help their students grasp lesson concepts in unique ways.  Elise has done exactly that–and the learning doesn’t stop there either. 

When the kids mastered using the bundles, Elise invited them up to the chalkboard to try out some multiplication equations. She worked with each child individually and if the student struggled, she offered gentle feedback, then asked a slightly easier question to help build up their confidence before trying the original problem again. This is the mark of an excellent teacher who cares about her students’ hearts as much as their minds.

One of the neat things about this story is that Elise isn’t even a Wellspring “multiplier”! In other words, she hasn’t received training directly through Wellspring, but rather she has learned her techniques through peer learning, which is something we highly encourage. Clemance, the head of the math department at Gihogwe, went through our training program and passed her learnings along to others, including Elise, through feedback and classroom observations. When peer learning is encouraged, as it is at Gihogwe, quality education spreads beyond our wildest dreams and every child can be empowered in a classroom environment that reflects Jesus’ love. 

God is working through teachers like Elise and Clemance to truly shape the lives and learning of their students. It is our joy, with your partnership, to be able to play a role in their stories.