A brief musing from board member and lead trainer Dr. Connie Chow.
It was Monday morning at 9 am in early August. School had only ended the Thursday before. The next day (Friday), we
dragged invited our teachers from the 6 schools in Pokuase to bring their 130+ students to the St. Sylvanus Roman Catholic School for a 3-hour dress rehearsal – from demonstrations to dances to drama to a debate to guest introductions.
The Durbar, celebrating girls in science, would last till 4 pm that Monday, because, well, speeches by important people from the high table. (No, not ALL of them spoke).
But before all that, before the teachers felt re-energized by the affirmations and excitement of the Durbar, they “wished to speak with me privately”.
They pulled me aside, and asked about the 3-day training we had planned.
“It starts tomorrow? How many days again? Does it really start at 9 am? What time does it end?”
“9 am to 5 pm”, I said. “We’ll feed you breakfast, lunch and snacks. And it will be fun”.
“Teachers from two other cities will join us,” hoping to inspire good behavior. But no.
“But some of us live very far. We haven’t had a break since school ended. The traffic will be very bad. We have to go home and cook dinner for our families. One of the new teachers is a friend of mine. She has to travel from Tema, almost two hours each way.”
Yes. Of course I had been self-centered, trying to pack as much in as possible since I have a limited time in Ghana. I had so much to share. But I forgot that these hardworking teachers had to take care of themselves. That I need to model empathy and build a caring community and an empowering learning environment.
So I listened and adapted. We did start at 9 (with a group arriving at 8:30 each day), shortened lunch, took out 1-2 small modules. The first two days ended at 4pm, and the last day at 3pm.
With board member Sheri Moore’s infectious joyfulness, the teachers started and ended each day with song.
We still covered a lot of ground. Everyone was engaged. There were lots of smiles.
So what did they say at the end?
“We should have accommodations next time so we can have more time for training”.
“This training should be longer”.
“The training should be held every term (3 months)”.
Noted. And I call that a win-win.