Friday, January 30, 2009

Christmas Update

Just posting a note about this year's Christmas in TZ. Hot and sunny, adjusting to warm weather Christmas is an odd experience. But this year, we went up to the Monduli Maasai market to stock up on supplies for feeding 50 with goat bar-b-que. It was a big event!

Also on Christmas, we went to church for the baptism of two of our favorite little boys, Sebastian and Julian. We were asked to become godparents for Julian and so participated in the baptism ceremony, and were very honored to be a part of it.

Here are two photos, one of the Christmas goat, and one of Humphrey with Julian at the baptism. Happy Christmas!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Green Village - Momella

Well, we have found our first village for a Green Village project - Momella Village - between Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Momella is located in the most beautiful location I have ever seen, but is a mass of unfinished buildings, hopeless people, and the largest collection of wind-blown plastic bags! It is the market hub for all surrounding villages, and the people who come into the village leave their trash, and the community does nothing to clean it up.

Momella is situated right next to Arusha National Park, and so has much potential for green economic development. Currently, people who visit the park go out of their way NOT to go through Momella, because it is such a depressed and trashed area that they do not want visitors to see it. It is a tourist mecca, but the village has no small businesses in place to attract visitors. The villagers are a combination of Meru and Maasai tribes, and thus have many skills and traditional crafts they could offer, but again, nothing is going on.

We have chosen Momella for all of these reasons - it is the perfect place to test out the Green Village process - cleaning up the environment, training people in green business processes, providing micro-finance loans to start up small businesses, and then promoting the village as an eco-friendly tourist location.

So, we'll see! The pictures above and below are the current symbols for Momella - toxic water and plastic bags. Hopefully as this blog continues, more pictures of Momella will come, showing work taking place and progress being made. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Green Village - Green Future

I want to use this post to announce the formation of a new non-profit organization I have developed - Green Village = Green Future, Inc.

This non-profit is set up to support rural village development in East Africa. The emphasis of the work will be to help these villages

- develop green environments, providing clean water sources, cleaning up trash and waste problems, and help people become responsible stewards of their local land, water, air, and animal resources
- develop green business approaches, helping people build sustainable and logical business endeavors by providing consultation, training, and micro-loans for business development
- working with village leaders to reinvest new income into the community through health and educational investment
- engaging successful project villages in providing mentoring and micro-finance support for future village projects

Currently, Green Village has been registered as a US non-profit, and we are currently working to obtain IRS non-profit status, so foundations and donors can receive tax breaks for their donations. Stay tuned for more info, and visit the website to read more about the work of Green Village = Green Future. Click the link below:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sharing Photos

Just a few photos of my most recent trip to TZ. On the right is Kelvin, a new little friend, the son of my friend Humphrey. On the left is my Norwegian friend, Beate and her little boy Sebastian. Beate is my friend who organizes and supports the Nkoaranga Village Coffee Cooperative I discussed in a previous posting.

Back from the Great Beyond

Just a quick update to share some life info. I had a great and productive trip to Costa Rica on literacy business. Met very interesting people, and learned much about the kinds of literacy initiatives that are going on mostly in Central America. IRA always brings together such a diverse group of experts and learners, it is well worth the long trip.

Spent about a month in Tanzania on holiday, mostly resting and visiting with friends. During my time there I had a life-shifting experience, while sitting in a Land Cruiser doing nothing. I was passing through a village on my way to a park for a quick side trip, when I began to notice some disturbing things around me.

The village where we had stopped is the main market day village in the area, and has a fairly large population. But, many businesses did not look like going concerns. Many houses were half-finished, people seemed to be hanging around with little to do, and there was an incredible amount of trash everywhere. When I mentioned to my friend Humphrey that it seemed this village had potential, and that they could really make a difference for themselves if they just had a little help organizing, he looked at me and said, "Well then, you should do that."

This small event has started me down a new path. I am in process of creating a new non-profit group to support community organizing - linking green environmental efforts to responsible business development, community health, and educational improvement.

So now this blog will be changing focus, and I will begin to use it to share information about this new non-profit effort, we are calling - Green Village = Green Future.

As the work progresses, I will continue to share information and ideas about what we are accomplishing. Right now I can share that we have selected our first village for community development collaboration, and it is the very village where I first realized that I could help - Momella village. We have begun discussion with the village council to set up the community engagement process, and are hoping to begin a clean water, clean land initiative when I am there in December.

More updates later. Peace to you and yours. Amy

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Monday, June 30, 2008

TZ Bound

Back again, pole so long since I have posted. I am in the middle of summer training here in the USA, working with a great staff to train 800 teachers in integrated literacy strategies in middle and high schools.

A few new events to update:

- I was recently made a Vice President in my organization, working on Program Design and Implementation. This means more responsibility and more work, but a great opportunity to help colleagues continue to improve their work and to build new skills myself.

- I went to the IRA national conference and made some new connections to work in Africa, as well as connections in IRA international development sector.

- Have started acting as a reviewer for IRA's Literacy Hub, an online clearinghouse for international literacy research reporting. Should be an interesting process, and an opportunity for me to learn more about the literacy work and research going on in the world.

- I am headed to Costa Rica in a few weeks for the IRA World Congress on Literacy, where I will participate in two presentations about the teacher training work in Africa. My colleague Freda Klotter and I will give our own presentation about the development of the primary literacy program, and I will partcipate in a panel presentation with the Special Interest Group for Literacy in Developing Countries to discuss the various projects going on with SIG members. World Congress should be a great opportunity to learn more about other work happening in developing countries, and to share some of my own learning with others.

- In August, I will be back in Tanzania - HOLIDAY! Still working on getting my local coffee company interested in importing the fair trade coffee from the Mt Meru co-op group, not making much progress on that end.

That's about it - enough I think!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

View my page on A Literate Africa

I have started a network on ning focused on bringing together people who are interested in supporting the development of universal literacies in East Africa. Please visit, and consider joining A Literate Africa, my new network on ning. Pole sana, right now the network is just getting started, so bear with me for a while.

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Mt. Meru Coffee Farmers

During my last trip to Tanzania, I was able to have a visit with a local fair-trade coffee cooperative on Mt. Meru. Friends of mine, Frank and Beate, are working with a group of 30 local coffee farmers to help them collectively market their wonderful coffee.

They begin by providing small loans to the farmers for the equipment and materials they need to grow the coffee (They were engaged in micro-finance without even knowing they were doing it!). The co-op members meet regularly to discuss business, and the ongoing work they are doing with a Moshi agricultural training center.

As the harvesting season begins, the farmers bring their green beans to Frank and Beate, where they are paid a fair price for their beans (double what they would receive from the general market for exporting!). The beans are then hulled, roasted, ground, and shipped to customers directly overseas. Frank and Beate have built a market in Norway (Beate's home) for the coffee, so the market for the coffee is growing by leaps and bounds.

Additionally, the co-op is currently engaged in creating a foundation for organic coffee. They have a coffee nursery, where they are grafting off small organic plants, and then providing them to each small farm to transition over time from current plants to all organic plants. As they begin producing organic plants, the western interest in and need for their product will also increase.

I am currently working on setting up appointments with a large coffee importing co-op here in the states - that is focused on supporting fair trade co-ops overseas by importing only fair trade co-op coffee. Hopefully, this will also open up the American market to the co-op and be of help the the local people living and farming on the slopes of Mt. Meru. Included here are two pictures from my coffee co-op visit.

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Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone

It has been many months since I last posted on this blog. Work is running me over, as it is with most people who I know. To update you - the work at St Jude's has been tied up, and completed. My colleague and I made a trip to the school to work with new staff in November of last year, and with one final visit in April, we are finished.

The school has made great progress, doubling the school sites, doubling the teachers, and really building lots of capacity on the ground to support teacher practice and student learning. They are attracting very well-qualified teachers, given that the kind of support and opportunity they are offering teachers is unprecedented in the area, and the good work of the school has made it the place to teach. They have transitioned into a full local faculty, and so have westerners on site only to manage the larger efforts of the schools, and to support ongoing teacher development.

I myself am currently back in the US, and working with the Striving Readers project to support teacher training in integrated adolescent literacy. Very busy, and seeing lots of progress from teachers on this side of the pond as well.

Hoping to be back in Tanzania for both holiday and work in the coming year, and always looking for ways I can be of help in the exciting developments taking place in East Africa in general with teacher training and professional development.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Culture and Brain Power!

Today, I worked in a Standard 5 Social Studies classroom to model the concept of artifacts as representations of culture. I used a classic lesson, with photos of cups, yes cups from different cultures and times in history. The children explored the photos in small groups, drew inferences about the cultures from the photos, and discussed. The higher level thinking was running all over the classroom, and their inferences were stunningly well-informed and insightful.

Then, they created a cup of their own to represent something about themselves and their culture. Typical of children their age, we had many sports cups, hearts and butterflies, names and ages decorating cups around the room.

Each of these processes was completely new to the children, and the joyful enthusiasm for the task, with no concern about "right and wrong" (a real issue in schools in this part of the world) let me know that they are ready and anxious to take on big ideas and big thinking at a moment's notice. Hoping the teachers who observed it use the lesson as an example of how to raise the bar for learning, engage students actively, and produce big thinkers in the process. Fun day!

Hello Kitty

Girls are girls the world over! This student is the sponsor student of my friend Sherri. To find out how to sponsor a School of St Jude student, just visit their website:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mwujizi Kidogo

Many of you know that my sister, Jane sponsors a student who has special health issues and needs. It has been touch and go for him for quite some time, and without the sponsorship and support of the school, all believe he would not make it for very long. Since he has been with the school, he has received critical medical care and support, and is now in school most days, and doing better than could have been expected.

The most amazing thing of all is the level of absolute joy and happiness that surrounds his whole little being anytime you see him. One of the teachers yesterday visited his home with me and taught me a new Kiswahili phrase - Mwujizi Kidogo - the little miracle. Above and below are pictures - playing outside and in class working hard on his learning.

Bilali Update

I have been very pleased to see my sponsored student, Bilali again during this visit. He is getting taller and rounder, and is SLOWLY losing some of his shy nature. Yesterday, I went to the home of his Bibi (grandmother) to visit, and was pleased also to see her doing well.

I received his Term 2 report card yesterday, and while the road still seems a little rocky, the teachers assure me his English is improving, and that he is more actively participating in class in general. Above is a photo of me and Bilali during the home visit. As you can see, he is growing rapidly!

Data, Data, Data

Have spent the week gathering 2000 pieces of classroom practice data (amen for Freda, or we would never have completed the task!). We conducted random drop-in visits in each grade level and each content during the week. We have already seen their best (during scheduled visits), and now we are looking at what they do when they do not know we are coming in. Mixed, some great, some not so great, but all in all a typical result we would see in any school we work with.

I did see a wonderful visual art lesson, with instruction on the mathematical proportions of the human face, and practice with learning how to draw the face with correct proportions. So, of course you know that this posting is for my friend and colleague Catherine, who also loves to work with students and teachers using this same strategy. Above is a photo of the new visual art teacher, an interesting young man, quiet and patient, working on the strategy with a Standard 5 student.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back Again, Home Again?

I arrived back at St Jude's yesterday, and it feels somewhat like coming home. Saw old friends and met some new one's, went through 30 boxes of books shipped to us here for distribution to different content departments (thanks to Paul Weinland!), and went for dinner down the road with Freda. Each time I visit, I always wonder if it will still feel the same, like a place I fit and should be, and each time, it takes about ten minutes for me to get my bearings and settle in.

Saw the little kitten Sausage today, all grown up and mentoring a new smaller cat that showed up recently, again old friends and new. Many western volunteers and local teachers have come and gone in the (close to) year I have been coming to St Judes, but the school itself is the same old familiar place (with little added details, such as the new paving and drainage system they have installed).

Hoping to visit the site of the new school in the coming weeks to see the progress that is being made for the January opening of the new campus. I hear tell that there are three-story buildings where a field sat the last time I was here. Starting work tomorrow with a week of observation and formal data collection focused on measuring the current status of teacher instructional approaches, should be very interesting and informative, as it will guide the rest of the work I do on this trip. More later.

Photo - teachers working together, a common occurrance around here these days!

Monday, August 06, 2007

St Jude's - The Book

Just finished reading Gemma's book, St Jude's: a girl from Guyra, a school in Africa, and the patron saint of hopeless causes. While I have heard her story many times, reading through the details of how she came to be in Tanzania, what she has accomplished and overcome, and her hopes for the future provides me with an even greater boost of energy to offer during my work at the school (and from distance when I am not able to be there to make things happen). If each of us dedicated to the work of the school could only have one-tenth of the focus and persistence she shows each day, the Schools of St Jude will truly change the lives of thousands of students in the coming years.

For more information about Gemma's book, or to order a copy for your own read, please visit the school website:

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Update on Bilali

My little guy Bilali is fully into school at this point, shy to talk in class and still learning English, but a smart boy and working hard. During my last trip, I was able to visit with his Bibi (grandmother) to talk about Bilali's progress and future. Bibi Bilali is a wonderful woman, who has taken Bilali into her home permanently, and who puts his best interest above all other priorities. As Bilali learns and grows he will be able to repay that commitment with hard work and a bright future for his entire family, all due to a small financial gift each year. Nothing could be me rewarding!

The picture above is of my last visit to Bibi Bilali's home in April. It includes Bilali and myself (looking very disheveled from the heat and travel as always). When your hand is bigger than his entire tummy, you know he is a tiny little guy!

Been a Long Time

It has been a very long time since I posted on this blog. Very busy running projects and trying to run my life at the same time. I will be returning to Tanzania in two weeks for another round of work at St Judes. During this visit, I will be gathering and analyzing some formal data about teacher practice, and will be meeting with two specific teaching departments - Language Arts and Social Studies. The department work will focus on creating strong patterns of daily instruction - patterns in how time is used, and in the ways students regularly work through the cycle of learning (reflection, instruction, application, and reflection).

The new school campus at Usa River is underway, and staff has been identified for leadership positions there in January. This will require additional teaching staff as well, and means an unending process of work, in order to make sure the appropriate staff is hired and trained in the new teaching methods being employed at the school. Good news for me, as this work is where my heart is.
The girls in the photo above are the "big girls" in the school, very interested in everything, very excited about the different possibilities for their future. For example, the young lady in the blue dress has dreams of being a pilot.
More soon from Tanzania!

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Monday, April 02, 2007


Today I met Mwajuma. She is the sponsored child of my dear friend Sherri. Mwajuma was small and shy, but lit up like a christmas tree when I told her I was a friend of her sponsor. She trailed me all day long, and at the end of the day, I was able to give her the giftie sent by Sherri. She was thrilled, and was able to read the easy-reader books included in the gift. Wonderful to see how a small gift can offer so much happiness!

Later: Each day that I see Mwajuma, she takes a running leap into my arms for kumbatia kabisa (absolute hugs) and can't seem to tear herself away from her visitor, no matter how the swings are calling during play time. This is actually unusual for a student at St Jude, as many of them have had less than stellar life experiences, with people coming and going, and situations that do not build a strong sense of trust. Mwajuma is one of a kind, and the sweetest little girl I have ever met (know that the list includes thousands)!

The picture above is of Mwajuma receiving her giftie from Sherri, just the beginning of a million smiles!

First Day Back

Today was my first day back at St Jude since December. I spent the day talking with teachers and observing in classrooms, looking for evidence of progress in teaching techniques. The evidence was everywhere I looked - Rooms full of student work, word walls, and informational materials - Small group hands-on work going on in almost every classroom I visited - Highly engaging instruction and strong positive interaction between teachers and pupils. I can honestly say I saw more progress than I had ever expected. Work still to do, but so great to see teachers accepting the challenge so readily!

The photo above is of Mr. Peter (right, science) and Mr. Koringo (left, maths), two of the teachers who have been put in leadership positions at the school. In the coming year, Mr. Peter will be in charge of the new school campus at Usa River. In this photo, they are in deep discussion of the leadership book that we are using to discuss principles of democratic and shared leadership strategies. These two are a great find for the school, bringing knowledge, experience, and a strong commitment to the children and the goals of the school.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

St Jude Fundraising Event

We are working with the Smith Foundation to plan and host a fundraising event for the School of St Jude. The event will take place in the evening on March 29 (the day before I take off for Tanzania!) and will be held at the Collaborative. We are planning to have music and food, as well as photos, St Jude website browsing available on several laptops set up around the space, and some short talks (with lots of photos).

Cindy will be talking about the history and goals of the school, as well as sharing information about the ongoing plans for future growth and instructional improvement. Freda and I will be discussing both the leadership and teacher training aspects of the work, as well as sharing information about the coming visit, and our vision for learning possibilities in the school's future. We are expecting about 100 people, should be a fun time for all, and will hopefully raise funds for buses, land, teacher salaries, or even individual sponsors for new pupils.

Haba na haba, hujaza kibaba! Little by little, we can solve this problem!

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School Design and Pedagogy

It has been some time since I have posted, but I've been very busy rewriting curriculum, planning for 55! teacher conferences and observations, and working with my colleague Freda to plan for both instructional and leadership training sessions for the trip to St. Judes in April.

In addition, I have been in conversation with a most interesting man, Leon Chatelain, an architect from Washington DC who has been asked to plan the site design for the new Arusha River school campus. What has been most exciting for me is to have someone ask me this question: What has to be present in the physical plant of a school in order to promote the kind of instructional approach that will work - today and into the future?

Just to think that someone would be asking this question is thrilling enough. But then to be able to actually contribute to the design conversation, discussing things like space configuration, common meeting spaces, use of light and outdoor environments to support curriculum implementation, and inclusion of self-sustaining systems to both educate and feed the children (a school-based fish farm and vegetable growing area!) is almost like a dream come true.

I will be continuing to talk with the architect, getting and providing feedback as the design is completed and building of the new campus commences over the next several months. And then, the possibility of actually working with teachers - when the school opens - in the actual space - to help them understand how the physical space can be used in intentional ways to promote quality instruction and learning, basically takes me over the top!

So, all very exciting things going on, and packing as well! I am including here the initial site plan created by Chatelain Architects, still under revision, but beautiful and full of possibilities already!

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Preparing to Return to Africa

Currently in the US, I am working with my colleague Freda to prepare to return to St Jude's for another month of working with teachers and administrators. After our first visit, we left the school faculty with the charge to implement the classroom management, standards-based planning, and active teaching techniques we taught them during training and classroom modeling.

As a part of the ongoing work, I have been sending professional readings and self-guided learning activities for the leadership team to use for on-site self-guided professional development. They are actively moving forward with the work, and I have heard from many on the team, as well as other teachers, with questions and feedback about the work they are accomplishing.

After 20 years of working with schools in America, I did not think anything could suprise me ever again. But, this group of teachers has managed to knock my socks off! The extent of time and effort they put in, and the unguarded trust they bring to the process in which we are asking them to engage has renewed my faith that the years I have dedicated to teaching teachers has all been worth it.

When I return to Tanzania in late March, I will spend two-three weeks observing individual teachers and providing them with direct feedback on the quality of their teaching (big progress in a few months time!), and modeling effective lesson techniques across all grade levels and disciplines. Then, I will have around five additional days to conduct department-specific training sessions (focused on reflecting on lesson planning, exploring classroom evidence of learning, and planning for ongoing integration of new teaching techniques), as well as several days with the leadership team to continue to bolster their skills and efforts to support colleagues and hold them accountable for high quality work.

Looking forward to the sights and sounds of Africa again, and to seeing all of the friends I made at St. Judes. More later, as dates for travel arrive.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I have finally organized my sponsorship for a child at the School of St Jude. His name is Bilali, and I met him in December when I did a "home check" for his entrance process. He is seven, in Standard 2, and lives with his Bibi (grandmother) in Arusha town. He is a lovely and very smart little boy, and I am thoroughly enjoying sending small gifts and letters to him. I know how important it is to him and to his bibi to be in the school - life changing - so I know he will work very hard to do well.

Here are two pictures of Bilali on his first official day at school. In the first, he is enjoying his first day in computer class, and in the second, smiling big enough to see a front tooth is missing (clearly seven!).

In addition to Bilali, in the month I have been home, five friends here in America have also signed on to sponsor children at the school, a blessing for these little ones who have such great need and such big dreams. Thanks to everyone for your support! If you are interested in finding out what is involved in sponsorship for a St Judes child, you can visit their website: - or - you can send me a message or give me a call. I will be more than happy to provide you with information.

I will keep the blog updated with information about Bilali and his schooling as it comes in, and will be very thrilled to see him again when I return to Tanzania in April for additional work with teachers.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Distance Learning

Work with St. Judes has continued on since my return to America. We are working with the leadership team via a virtual network (TappedIn) to continue our dialogue about leadership styles and leadership roles. In addition, we are working to update the curriculum on an ongoing basis, integrating the new strategies learned during training into the discipline-specific curriculum documents. Here is a photo of me (and my colleague Freda) with the school's leadership team.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

St. Jude's Sponsorship

For more information on how to support the School of St. Jude in Moshono, Tanzania, East Africa - either through sponsorship of a child or a general monetary donation, please visit the following site. Asante sana! Sangiki

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Back from Africa

I am writing this last posting (at least for now) as I am sitting at home in America, having returnmed just hours ago.

In thinking about the work we completed, I can truly say that I believe we were able to make a difference in the thinking and commitment of the teachers, and to teach them some new ideas along the way that they can apply in their classrooms.

And, I will end this portion of my blog in much the same way as I began, with a metaphor for my time in Africa. Above is a Jacaranda tree. I found it along a roadside as I was going to visit a small village very much off the beaten pathway. The Jacarandas are blooming all over Tanzania this time of year, and this one was of particular interest because it seemed this wonderful spot of beauty in the middle of nowhere, and was surrounded by dirt brick homes - a community sprung up at the foot of a wild and beautiful tree - Tanzania.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Freda's New Friend

Freda and I have been able to make some home visits to meet the families of prospective pupils. Freda was able to find a child to sponsor. Her name is Judith, and on the day she came to the school to be fitted for her uniform (the biggest day in her life), Freda was able to meet her and arrange to sponsor her.

The photo here is of Freda and her new sponsored child Judith on Uniform Day.

Coming to an End

As the final days of teacher training take place, I am seeing much growth in the faculty over the week. We introduced a standards-based unit and lesson planning format today. Having used this type of planning process with thousands of teachers in America, I can truthfully say, I have never worked with a group that is so willing to try something new. Additionally, while some struggled, most were able to complete a unit plan and some individual daily lesson plans during the day today.

Some plans were just beginning to show the touch of best practices and strategies, while others were well on their way to producing highly effective and engaging learning for pupils.

Tomorrow, we will finish the work with assessment and reflection, and then hit the road for America. It seems like we have been here no time at all, and also forever, as we have made many real friends among the staff, and receive kindness everywhere we go.

This is a photo of teachers engaged in conversation during planning time.

Teacher Training Mid Week

As we have moved into the middle of the week of teacher training, we are focusing on working with specific techniques to better understand the new pupil objectives, and working with the teachers to develop objectives for the quality of their teaching.

The group is working well together and is very focused throughout each day. They respond well to all of the techniques, and spent the afternoon constructing their teaching objectives. It is very clear at this point that they have an intellectual understanding of what they should be doing. Getting organized is the problem, and we will spend the last two days of the week focused on that piece of work.

Above is a photo of teachers using a tableau (frozen picture) strategy to demonstrate quality teaching and learning in their classroom. The two teachers standing represent creatures of nature coming to the waterhole to drink, while the man crouching represents another creature that is blocking their access to the water. In the end, they find a way to drink.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Teacher Training - Day I

Yesterday, we began the teacher training week, with a day focused on understanding how pupils learn and how teachers teach. The group was very responsive, with new and returning teachers working together to create their own understanding of what good teaching and learning look like.

One interesting observation struck me during the day - much like teachers in America, the faculty has somewhat of an intellectual understanding of what they should say when asked about effective teaching practices. Like teachers everywhere, it is when you ask them to do it, or HOW to do it that the conversation can come to a halt. Even after just the first day, we realize that these teachers need the same thing needed by teachers everywhere. They need to see good models, get direct feedback on their own teaching, and be held accountable for working to make progress in their practice.

If that support is in place, all things seem possible. Above is a picture of teachers using a Circle Sharing technique to discuss a professional article read during the first day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A View of Kili

After three weeks in Tanzania, and being about 40 miles from Kilimanjaro, I finally got to see the mountain. At our weekend lodge, I had my own cabin with a spectacular and direct view of Kiklimanjaro. And, as you can see, the snows are still hanging in there, despite the global warming!

Preparing for Teacher Training

We spent the weekend at a beautiful lodge close to St. Jude's, called Karama Lodge (it means 'to be honored' in Kiswahili). Worked very hard all weekend, and battling a small case of what might be dysentery, but there was never a more lovely spot to be sick or to prepare for professional development.

Tomorrow morning, we will begin 30+ hours of professional development with a staff of about 55. We will spend the early part of the week focusing on what current research suggests about best practices and developing teacher quality objectives with the group. Toward the middle of the week, we will introduce their new course objectives, syllabi, and curriculum maps, as well as a planning process.

On Thursday and Friday, we will be working with them to help plan their first units of the new year, and providing a mini-session on effective classroom assessments, as that is a major need school-wide, and they have expressed an interest in that work in particular.

On Monday evening, we will have a dinner out with the full leadership team (16!) to get their feedback on the first day of teacher training, and then at the end of the week, on the night before we leave, we will have dinner again with the Director and Assistant Director to present our report of the work accomplished and our recommendations for ongoing work in the school.

Then on Friday, we finish at 3:30 and are on a plane to Amsterdam at 9:30! So, all a whirlwind and time is slipping away fast!

Thursday, December 07, 2006


The last stop on safari was Tarangire National Park, which is home to a relatively permanent population of herd animals, specifically elephants. While we were able to approach close to the elephants we saw in other areas, that is not the case at Tarangire. Because the park is adjacent to an area where the elephants have been seriously hunted, elephants at Tarangire are very skittish of humans (a good idea), and have been known to be dangerous at times.

So we went expecting to see large herds of elephant only from a distance. To our great surprise, we managed to stumble onto several small groups with very young babies, some as young as two to three weeks old. With the early rains, we were also able to witness some waterhole behaviours that I felt very lucky to experience, as you can see here.

Lake Manyara

On safari, we spent two days in and around Lake Manyara, a beautiful spot with a completely different landscape than the serengeti or the crater. Full of tributaries that feed a saltwater lake, it has both swampy and rainforest type areas. The animals are plentiful, and the days at Manyara were all beautiful and sunny.

With the early coming of the short rains and the clay nature of the soil around the lake, the waters leading into the lake run virtually red with clay slip. The large mammals are everywhere, but it is the smaller animals and birds in the area that are the most interesting to spot and identify.

The Final Leadership Day Has Flown By

Today was spent working with the St. Jude leadership team, and focused on new learning in several areas. We began the day with a discussion of the coming week of training we will be providing to teachers - providing a brief overview and the text that will be used to support the work.

After that conversation, we broke into small groups to provide instruction about the three basic styles of leadership and a self-assessment tool designed to help teachers reflect on the quality of their communication skills.

The big portion of the day was spent setting up the virtual environment through which we will continue to support the leadership team after we leave for America. We registered all school leaders, learned how to engage in threaded discussions, post and retrieve files, and participate in real-time chats about specific leadership topics. While each person's computer skills varied, all teachers were persistent and incredibly patient in learning the process, and all were successful in the end.

At the end of our session (the last formal leadership session), Mr. Ben made a formal statement of thanks to us for the work and the time, and expressed the group's feelings that the week had been a great success and that they had each learned more than they expected they could about leadership and team work. In reflecting on the day, I also received several individual emails from the teachers stating how much they had enjoyed the week, and the hope that we will continue to support them in their leadership roles. All I can say is that it would be a real pleasure to continue to work with a group of people who are so open to new ideas and anxious for new learning.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Setting Expectations for Leadership

Today we spent the day working with the teacher leadership group to further explore the concept of shared leadership and democratic leadership styles. The teachers worked together to finalize their own set of expectations about how they should act as leaders in the coming year.

In addition, each teacher selected a specific objective on which to focus their own ongoing learning during the year. Some objectives that were selected for professional learning focus included Planning and Implementation of Lessons, Building Community with Department Staff, Understanding and Teaching Others Effective Instructional Practices, and Learning to Listen and Respond to the Needs of Other Teachers.

The group also identified the topics on which they wish to focus our work together in the coming days - Understanding Different Leadership Styles and Developing Effective Communication Techniques. So, tomorrow we will focus on both of these topics, using self-assessment rubrics and informational articles for discussion and practice. Additionally, we have created a virtual network office for the team and will get everyone registered and trained on how to use the network tomorrow. At that point, we will be able to continue to communicate with the team, provide them with tools and techniques, and offer ongoing threaded discussions about different leadership topics - whether we are here in Tanzania or back home in the states. By all accounts, the work is going very well, and we are very impressed with the dedication and commitment to learning demonstrated by the entire team. Great day!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Awards Day

Today was the end of the year Awards Day at St. Jude's. The ceremony began at 10:00 with performances from children, singing, dancing, and plays. Additionally, there were over 250 awards given out, for everyone from children who performed well to parents who have done a special job of supporting the children's school work. At 2:00, the ceremony ended and we proceeded to feed about 2000 people at outdoor stations set up all around the school grounds.

It was the largest day in the history of the school, and all were very pleased with the entire day. The pupils stayed in form for the entire ceremony, parents were well pleased, and St. Jude kept the rain at bay all day long. The largest problem of the day was how to bus the 2000 into the school in the morning and then get them all back home at the end of the day. Watching Gemma organize and oversee the entire thing was like watching a miracle in action.

The Wahazabe

Spent a day on the back roads going to visit a bushmen tribe. They live outside with little to no shelter in a very traditional structure. They are currently at risk for losing the land they use to hunt Vervet and gather roots and plants for eating. They live completely off the land and the government is selling off the area for development. Some people associated with the school are trying to help protect their rights, as well as make arrangements for some of the children to attend the boarding school that is currently being planned for St. Judes.

On our visit, we took blankets and some food staples for the women and children. The young boy to the right is about the age where he may be able to come to the school when the boarding section is open.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sleepy Lion

Came across this sleepy female lion just getting up to start the evening hunt with her two sisters. Nothing ferocious, just a large yawn.

In the Crater

I spent a day in Ngorongoro Crater, the largest inactive volcanic crater in the world. It is home to many varied animal species, and is quite a vehicle climb, both in and out. The landscape is lush green and damp, very unexpected just south of Serengeti. The bird species that live in the crater are varied, and include a wide number of birds of prey. To the left is a photo of a Kite at rest after trying to steal my lunch.

One of the great sights people hope for in the crater are the small number of severely endangered Black Rhino that live year round in the crater. They are in fact so endangered that each Rhino has two full-time armed guards inside the crater watching out for them. While many I have met count themselves lucky to have seen one rhino in a crater day from a distance, we were able to see five distinct rhinos, one from quite close, as you can see below.


Went looking for cheetahs on the second day in Serengeti, they are not always easy to find. Our driver got stuck in the mud trying to navigate a large kopti (rock formation) where cheetahs like to hide when it is wet. He spent three hours digging us out, while I watched through the binoculars to ensure nothing scary was about.

The good news is that, within 10 minutes of getting free, we saw five cheetahs. In an effort to get close to them quickly, I sacrificed several ribs to the rigors of the road, and almost flew out of the top of the jeep. But, in the end all was worth the effort. We saw a mother and two cubs on the savannah, and then two juvenile brothers walking down the road, where we were able to take photos of them for about fifteen minutes undisturbed. The best shots (of many) are here.

They are usually solitary animals, but we managed to catch two situations where you will actually see cheetahs together - either when they are raising young, as is the case above, or when they are at the 'teenager' stage and siblings are still together and fending for themselves without their mother, as is the case to the right and below.