Stories - Teachers in Tanzania


Teachers in Tanzania

Miriam Johnson | Jul 23, 2018

The Perimeter Teachers Team consisted of 7 teachers, 5 from Perimeter School and 2 from area public schools. Six of us were returning to Tanzania, though for one it had been well over a decade since her first trip. For Kristin it was a new experience, and Lee Ann was eager to see all the changes that had taken place since her last visit.



We hit the ground running with sorting through supplies we brought and going right out to visit sponsored children. This is always such a highlight to re-connect with special people that we have established relationships with through letters, FaceTime, and previous visits.



Sunday was a day of worship in the village church, more reunions, and an afternoon to prepare for the week and rest after the long journey.



Monday through Friday of the first of our 2 weeks followed this pattern: devotions with our team and the school teachers, 2 seminars running parallel to each other, a break for tea, more seminars, then back together for a short thinking- skill session, then lunch together. The morning seminars were phonics and reading for the lower primary grade teachers and math for the upper primary teachers. We focused on specific topics as well as training in the use of various manipulatives and strategies in the topics. These were both so well received by the Tanzanian teachers. We heard from one teacher that he went home the same day and taught his young daughter what he had learned in math that morning! And the lower grade teachers couldn’t stop talking about long and short vowels- they don’t have those in Swahili.



After lunch the teachers rotated through a variety of seminars: Bloom’s Taxonomy (or Asking Good Questions), use of the library, geography, electricity, using the walls of your classroom to best advantage, and the scientific method.



While all of that sounds very academic, it was all done with such a sense of joy and exploration by both the presenters and the participants that it was a delight to be a part of it. During tea, lunch, and even in the classes themselves, there was laughter, learning, questions, and sharing of hearts. It was truly a collaborative effort, in the best sense of the word. This was important to the presenters because we wanted the Tanzanian teachers to experience what we hoped they would in turn share with their students.



On Saturday of that first week, a big bus was hired to take us all in to Arusha, about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive, to buy books for the new village library. This was quite an excursion for many of them, and it was a joy to watch them searching out books to help them, and others, teach better. After a long wait at a local restaurant, we ate together, then made the journey “home,” a tired but satisfied group.



Sunday was worship and rest, then Monday we began our rounds of observing, helping, and even teaching in the classes as the children returned from holidays. English is the language lessons are taught in, so that wasn’t a problem, and truly teachers want to teach, so we all enjoyed this part. We debriefed every afternoon with the whole faculty, and we did one-on-one critiques with individual teachers with specific areas they needed to work on. Godfrey, the headmaster, really wanted his teachers to have concrete advice and constructive criticism, so we tried to provide that.



That week we also got to take a cooking class from Teacher Upendo on making mandazi - one of our morning teatime treats! And we got to visit Teacher Gladness and her new-born son just home from the hospital, as well as go shopping in the village market for fabric and take it to the tailor to have it made for us! We were feeling quite at home by then, and our afternoon walks back to our guesthouse were like heading home after a day a school - shopping for veggies, checking out the World Cup Soccer results at a notice board in the village, walking with neighborhood children on their walk home, taking pictures of Kilimanjaro and sunflowers, and debriefing our day. We were also invited to tea one afternoon with the Pastor’s new wife, and we enjoyed getting to know her and pray for and with her as she starts this new chapter in her life.



Saying goodbye at the end of that week was bittersweet: we had loved being with those teachers, but we had a hotel in town with electricity and hot water waiting for us, and we were looking forward to that - and Safari!



A little shopping in town, great lunch, dinner, and dessert, the best showers in 2 weeks, and very nice beds, and then we were off on safari. The end of that day saw our team dividing up - 5 of us headed to the airport and home while 2 of us stayed behind to spend a few days at another school and teacher training college that we have partnered with in the past.



There was so much going on all the time, but we left with much awe at all the Lord had allowed to happen in those 2 weeks: teachers encouraging teachers, relationships being strengthened, God’s love being poured out on us and the school and church, and a deep sense of having been part of something God is continuing to grow and develop - and a longing to continue to be part of that in the future.