This weekend, Kibreab and I worked together on two days of Special Needs training for about 60 school teachers from the surrounding schools. The weekend went well and we were very impressed by the high level of participation in all our activities.
Inspired by the work of some of my Global Teacher colleagues, who ran a Special Needs workshop two years ago in Malawi, I adapted one of their activities for the teachers here. Using ends of plastic bottles, gauze, cotton wool and string, the participants experienced what it was like to have a visual, hearing or physical impairment. It was quite amusing as we got all the teachers ready, tying up arms and legs and putting hazy spectacles on and they had a good giggle at each other!
I then ran an English lesson as a ‘bad’ teacher, teaching in a way that did not cater to their needs. Teachers here all wear white coats in their lessons so I borrowed Kibreab’s for the occasion!
The participants were then able to recognise the challenges they faced and revealed their feelings through the experience – such as stress, anger and hopelessness.
As a group, we then came up with simple teaching strategies to counter this, using no resources except the willingness of the teacher to improve their practice and do something new. We hope they’ll be able to share their new skills and knowledge with their colleagues at their schools.