Mother tongue phonics - new beginnings
The training storm has ended (for now!) Well, even as we write this some of our team are training in a local primary school on a Saturday, but at least we have a little breather.
However the storm was the 330 or so teachers and supervisors we trained in the local primary teacher's college this week. We trained 'speed school' facilitators - teachers of school dropouts and pupils who have been out of the school system for so long that they need intense catch-up lessons to re-enter the school system. We taught half of them over two days: one day in Acholi Phonics and the second day was an introduction to English Phonics. Then the second half of the group again for a further two days.
This is the first time we have taught Acholi Phonics and it was quite an exciting event! Our incredible Peace Corps volunteer Katie Giseburt, who is quite passionate about children learning to read in both English and their mother tongue, created the Acholi Phonics manual! She became quite a little celebrity amongst the 300 or so teachers who were there. Katie used her knowledge of English phonics to help create the same systematic synthetic phonics steps for Acholi; and used the orthographic guide from a local reading program which has been introduced in schools (which has more of an emphasis on learning through memorising). So Katie was not only enhancing the reading program which is already in existence, but giving teachers powerful tools to teach reading and writing well in their mother tongue. The response: Amazing! Teachers caught up quite fast, and were surprised how simple it could be to teach reading with these new tools.
330 teachers was quite a lot, (that's putting it lightly isn't it! so we had to recruit a few helpers to manage such a large number of teachers just for the week. We drew in teachers who know phonics well in local schools we are working with and trained them as teacher-trainers to help us. They also grew in their skills and knowledge and are going to return to their classrooms next week a step up to creating independent readers in local language.
We left a large group of enthusiastic teachers who are eager to put their skills into practice and look forward to seeing them again next school holidays when we will add onto their skills.
We have also began a journey in Acholi Phonics and who knows where that will lead us! Blessed to have Katie Giseburt begin this journey for us...