There was a feeling of real excitement at the latest Newly Qualified Teacher refresher training in the Central and Western regions when over 200 newly qualified teachers were brought together for a two-day refresher training workshop. These teachers were alumni of OLA and Holy Child Colleges of Education, and studied early childhood education. They were mentored by teachers who had been trained as part of our Fast-track Transformational Teacher Training (FTTT) project and hosted in the Model Practice Classrooms. These classrooms are staffed with FTTT trained teachers who have elevated their practice, becoming models of best practice in early years education and also who have been given the skills to mentor and coach student teachers on placement in their classrooms.
Newly qualified teachers were refreshed on what they had learned during college and were updated on new developments in their area of specialisation and work. The training covered delivery of number talk during Big Circles and show and tell during early morning activities. Teachers also received printed training manuals for reference, culturally appropriate story books and construction blocks for creating construction centres in their classrooms.
The number talk session was aimed at helping teachers understand how to develop children’s mathematical skills. Kindergarten serves as the foundation for every child’s learning journey, and if children are to grow to understand mathematics then the foundation must be strong. Teachers and children at this stage talk more about numbers, relating numbers to their fingers, relating numbers to symbols and drawing five and ten frames which help children to develop the skills for addition and subtraction.
Show and tell is aimed at developing children’s communication skills. During this activity, teachers present, talk and describe items brought by children either from home, items they have made or an item from any of the learning centres created in the classroom. Children take turns to talk about the item under discussion and are encouraged to ask questions which helps to develop their communication skills and confidence, making them more curious to learn. Newly qualified teachers really enjoyed this aspect and they shared how these new learnings would make their classrooms livelier and exciting.
Teachers also felt enthused having been taken through positive behaviour management strategies that help eliminate the use of the cane and other corporal punishment practices. Teachers were encouraged to reward good behaviour and frown on bad behaviour by applying consequences.
Story sharing was also covered in the workshops and the newly qualified teachers confessed this was one of the most liked sessions in their schools as children would always want take part in sharing stories either from story books, props or story maps. Teachers’ capacities were built on how to make story telling more interesting in terms of body movements and costumes that depict the Ghanaian setting.
The two day workshop created an opportunity for teachers to use their own experiences to share possible solutions to some challenges others are facing in their various schools including behavior management and lacking support from other teachers. By the end of the workshop the majority of the newly qualified teachers felt confident they would be able to use and apply what they learnt in their classrooms.
Having learnt so much and having received manuals, story books and other materials to aid and enhance their teachings in their classrooms, teachers departed very excited and wish to have such encounters often.