What is it like teaching in Rwanda?
A year ago I heard about the organisation LRTT (Limited Resources Teacher Training) on a social media site. From Derbyshire in the UK to Rwanda – now that’s a big move but that’s what I did in my summer break. I decided to make an impact and grow myself in a new education context.
Work with other teachers?
LRTT works with locally-led education organisations in 11 different countries and it sends groups of teachers to work with other teachers and schools in countries where there may be more challenges. The idea is to be part of an inspiring team of educators, leading teacher training overseas during the summer. My first reaction was excitement and that this was just what I was looking for but then doubts crept in. I had a tough year. My teaching confidence was low and I felt that I was failing in my role as Head of Department and middle leader.
After one particularly challenging day, I took part in one of LRTT’s webinars. Their aim of “making an impact” and “creating a wave” resonated with me even more. I knew that this challenge was what I needed to do. I needed to get out of my rut and reconnect with why I chose to teach and use my skills elsewhere.
An adventure of a lifetime
We were 24 teachers from the UK, Ireland, USA and Australia with loads of backgrounds: early years, primary, secondary, new teachers, experienced teachers and some amazing team leaders who organised everything whilst we were there.
During our 3 weeks, we were based in the Nyamasheke District on Lake Kivu for our 2 conferences. We were paired up with another LRTT teacher to plan and deliver our sessions to Rwandan teachers. My partner was a teacher from London, Rhea Parekh, 2 years into her career, and full of ideas and enthusiasm. Working with her and planning sessions together reminded me of how I felt 18 years earlier!
Our sessions were based on questioning, differentiation, assessment for learning (AFL), positive classroom management, feedback and more. The 1-hour sessions had to be practical, our “technology” was a blackboard and chalk! We had to make sure that we weren’t preaching and that some ideas simply would not work in their schools. The days were long but rewarding and sitting and relaxing by Lake Kivu in the evenings, watching the sunset, weekend excursions on the lake and trekking for chimps (surprisingly challenging!) balanced it all out perfectly.
Since I came back, I’m still not the most confident person in my school but the experience reinforced that teaching is the job for me. I value my 18 years of knowledge and skills so much more and whenever I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself of how I was part of a group of teachers, who worked together to make a change beyond our own classrooms last summer.
Does this appeal to you? Apply to become an LRTT Fellow today.
This blog post was written by Andrea Bateman who Tweets at @andreabateman5