School Partner Update
In the first of our School Partner updates each year, we like to dig deeper into the experience of one of the stakeholders in the educational ecosystem surrounding a child, and this year we’re excited to focus on teachers. These educators, whose day-to-day lives are committed to helping children thrive, are right at the heart of each school, and it is so encouraging to see their skills growing, confidence building, and classrooms flourishing. We are so thankful for the part you are playing in making this transformation possible!
Wellspring’s trainers have been working with teachers in the Gasabo district for several years, sparking remarkable transformation both inside and outside of the school grounds. A few of these teachers recently sat down with us to share how Wellspring’s training has impacted their classroom environments and lives.
At Ruhanga School, one teacher shared about the impact that the focus on relationship and values is having in his classroom:
“The way I approach lessons, how I teach, comes from Wellspring. It’s not a long time since I became a teacher, but if you see my relationship and interaction with students– the way they appreciate, the way we learn together, the way we are open–it looks to be an incredible relationship.”
“We teach students values, how to love, how to support each other, and how to respect. Because the world needs people with values. We are raising those compliments of heart, embracing each other, and love. It is part of the values that we teach.”
At Shango Primary School, another teacher enthusiastically spoke about how Wellspring’s training is building community among those involved in the life of the school. When teachers and parents work together and model life skills for children, these children are empowered for the future in very tangible ways:
“When Wellspring trains us, they advise us to work together as teachers and parents, and in that working together, we have found community. We do different activities, including farming, cultivating, and trade, while also equipping our students with unique values. We train those learners to be good at saving and to plan for their future, to be saving. Even if they have a coin, they keep it until they have enough money to buy an animal that they can keep at home. Thank you for the many things you have given us. Your training is helping us in our daily lives.“
Wellspring recently had the privilege of conducting an impact assessment of our work in Gasabo’s schools, and of hearing from the educators–leaders and teachers alike–who are being directly impacted by this work. These interactions revealed that teachers are not only seeing their own skills develop through Wellspring’s training, but they are being significantly impacted through our investment in their leaders. One teacher shared more:
“Before Wellspring, when a leader came to observe my lesson, I felt afraid as I was not self-confident. During the time for feedback after the lesson I would always quarrel with the leader. Their feedback was negative, as leaders themselves did not know the areas where teachers needed to improve.” However, following training that focuses on cultivating a heart for servant leadership, this has changed: “Today, the leaders follow us consistently, they observe my lessons, give advice for improvement, and do follow ups. In the feedback they give to us today, they appreciate good things. Today, they do not criticize but appreciate the positive things first and then advise us on the areas for improvement.”
The experiences of these three teachers are just a small sampling of the incredible transformation spreading across Gasabo. Quality education is making a difference at every level, as these figures show:
As teachers are equipped with the skills and encouragement they need to flourish, all while building deeper relationships with their colleagues and communities, transformation takes place in their own lives, and in the lives of their students. When we see this transformation up close, we can’t help but be excited about all that lies ahead for teachers who are now beginning this journey in another region of Rwanda …
In the district of Rubavu, where our work officially launched in 2017, we have recently had the privilege of beginning our direct involvement with teachers. You may ask why this has taken so long, but the decision to work with teachers at this stage in our program was actually made intentionally based on all that we have learned in Gasabo. By investing first in leadership and in mobilizing parent communities to support the school, not only is a strong foundation laid for our work with teachers, but there is a tangible air of expectation among teachers and the wider community.
In early April, we welcomed 149 of the 150 invited teachers to our first training workshop (the remaining teacher only missed the training because he was unwell)! As our starting point, we are working with two key teachers from each of the 75 schools, who will be trained as ‘teacher multipliers’. These teachers receive intensive training so that they can lead the way in their schools, sharing what they have learned with their colleagues, and helping their peers to implement Wellspring’s techniques and philosophy in their own classrooms.
We began our training with a module on Exploring Worldview and Values, which helps participants understand how their own worldview and values impact their attitudes, behaviour, and teaching practices, while also exploring the key values of unity, uniqueness, service, and stewardship, and helping teachers understand how to integrate these values into their lessons. The week-long workshop facilitated incredible and open discussions between teachers, which also paves the way for our later trainings about peer learning. Local government officials even stopped by to show their support and encourage the teachers to engage deeply with Wellspring and bring the learnings back to their schools. We are so grateful for every one of those teachers and can’t wait to continue our journey with them!
All of this is only possible thanks to faithful School Partners like yourself. At the beginning of the workshop in Rubavu, our trainers took a moment to thank all of our donors who partner alongside this work, who care about the lives of children and teachers half a world away. As the teachers listened, they were visibly moved and erupted into a round of applause. So, on behalf of the teachers in Rubavu and all of the stakeholders and children we work with, thank you. This truly would not be possible without you.