In cooperation with Zanzibar’s Department of Education and local company Aslan Associates, EduCAN Development Corporation conducted a week-long series of international professional development workshops for 25 local educators. Todd Whitaker’s insightful book, “What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most” (2011) served as the starting point for the course.
As the participants worked through Whitaker’s concepts, the presenters supplemented each main idea with correlated leadership principles and practical professional development ideas. They considered cultural implications in the process.
John & Pam Morton (of EduCAN) and Jeremy & Davida Rodgers (of Aslan) lead the workshops, each taking a different component to develop. The educators quickly jumped in to the instruction bringing helpful experience and asking insightful questions.
The most lively banter centered around the use of “the stick.” If you are not familiar with education in Africa, this refers to the practice of using a long stick, cane, or “switch” as the primary means of classroom management. Most of the educators agreed that more effective methods exist. In fact the presenters and participants gave a healthy list of proven alternatives.
One man, however, felt the stick was the best method. In fact, when asked about how he liked the experience as a kid, he chuckled and said, “That teacher’s my best friend now!” An older, “no-nonsense” veteran teacher also quipped only half jokingly that she would not be abandoning the stick anytime soon. And I believed she knows how to use it.
The Zanzibari people were a delight to work with. They were welcoming, kind, and engaging. It was reassuring to see them actively working to bring new ideas and methods to their classrooms. We look forward to going back again in the future.
Dr. Whitaker, maybe you could consider #18 for a future edition, “Great teachers don’t need to use the stick.”