Meet Relebohile, she has kindly shared her story with us about her time during lockdown and how she has got to where she is now....she is an engaged, enthusiastic and innovative student teacher specialising in Maths and Science.
Listen to her amazing story here:
As you can hear, working with our Maths volunteers was an extremely important part of Relebohile's journey so far. Read Sion Watkins' reflections here:
"I first met Relebohile when I was supporting my wife as she delivered a course to a group of Lesotho College of Education first year student teachers at Thaba Tseka. The course was on Additional Learning Needs and at the end she came up with a few friends who studied Maths to ask if I’d be prepared to give them some ideas. Up to that point my work at the college had been exclusively to primary student teachers, but after talking to college staff I agreed that we might look at some issues on transition topics as Dolen Cymru had in the past supported local high schools.
The subsequent session went well, I found the group engaging, keen to assimilate some of the ideas on using materials and questioning to enhance learning. We also discussed what made a topic difficult to teachers. I did take from it a need to visit High schools and see what issues might be worth supporting there.
The following year based on this, Dolen Cymru had agreed to include in my brief some work in local high schools. Maybe a few days in each with the aim of building up to a course on secondary maths teaching to local teachers, similar to one trialled in Leribe the previous years. I was hoping to see what was happening inside schools having visited a few in 2019 and having had a constructive meeting with some secondary teachers at the end of my visit.
There is a world of difference between engaging with Primary and Secondary schools. The initial response is more guarded from teachers who are more confident of their subject expertise and are reluctant to be judged. As a result most of the classes I was allowed to work in were grade 8 and taken by student teachers. Over time as the teachers got to know me, I was allowed into a bigger variety but initially the focus was to keep me away from their classes.
A result of this limited access was that I actually knew many of the students having taught at all the local primaries, also it meant I worked with young student teachers willing to and interested in assimilating new ideas.
Relebohile was placed at Ntaote High School and she immediately showed that she wanted support and challenge. Whenever I was at the school, we would discuss the lesson, what knowledge was needed, problems students might face and whether were some resources and questions which could help understanding. At the end of the lesson we would go to the staff room discuss what had gone well what hadn’t worked as effectively - what needed to be changed for her next lesson (which I wouldn’t be at).
What working with Relebohile showed me was how keen these students teachers were to learn about teaching. New ideas, how to use resources, how to plan what they wanted to achieve and most importantly how to get a dialogue with their learners. Running courses out there I’d always stressed the phrase “showing not telling”. These new teachers wanted to teach in a different way to how they were taught, more inclusive, listening to students’ concerns and questions and most importantly explaining ideas.
The year was curtailed because of COVID but before leaving I did run a course for student teachers, college lecturers and teachers in the locality. Mainly focussing on things that I’d seen in High school lessons, ideas which I knew pupils struggled with at primary school and how to get a practical involved feel in lessons. Many of these ideas were thought up watching, working with and reflecting with Relebohile - it gave me an insight into what was holding teachers back and their concerns.
I managed one last session with her to plan a terms work and to help her create resources, leaving behind a mass of equipment that she could use if the schools stayed open. The session also allowed my colleague to film an interview with her for Dolen Cymru talking about what she had learnt, what were the ideas she liked and why.
I have kept in touch with her throughout this Covid period on WhatsApp and Facebook. I am delighted to see her using these techniques and resources to help neighbours’ children during lockdown and to try out things. She has since then, gone back to her own school and tried things out with classes since they opened up again. She has also taken a staff in service training on these techniques and made the resources to leave at the school.
Relebohile is one of many young students in this country, but she reflects the general enthusiasm they have for the profession, how they want the system to be better than the one they were in. Of all the things I experienced in Lesotho this is the one which makes me proud. To have helped a young person like this on her journey has been quite amazing."
Written by Sion Watkins, 2021
Watch the collection of photos and videos that were captured during this important time here: