Is teaching a science or an art?
For a number of years Kyambogo University (KyU) and Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences(HiOA) have had a close partnership and worked together on a range of fields. A particular focus is and has been on the areas of vocational education and teacher training. Through staff and student exchanges, research collaborations and shared projects the two institutions share knowledge and experiences. Students, staff and departments at the two institutions are exposed to new perspectives, and get a glimpse into each other`s educational systems and traditions. Through comparisons of the everyday work of a teacher in two different contexts, they gain new insights, ideas and broader outlooks.
Kyambogo University and HiOA currently run a joint master`s degree in Vocational Pedagogy funded by NORHEAD. Three staff from each institution are also exchanged every yearthrough the FK project. Seven students from Kyambogo are doing their master`s degree in Norway, as part of the NORHEAD project. In addition, Kyambogo recently hosted ten student teachers from HiOA, doing their teaching practice at local schools in Kampala.
On March 16th and 17th 2015 the Faculty of Education and International Studies at HiOA, together with the Faculty of Education at KyU, arranged a conference on classroom management. The conference took place at NOMA House at Kyambogo University, where 55 participants were in attendance for two days. They consisted of staff and students from various departments at KyU, Norwegian students doing teacher practice in Uganda, and a delegation of academic and administrative staff from the Faculty of Education and International Studies at HiOA.
The conference was opened by Dr. Joyce Ayikoru Asiimwe, Dean Faculty of Education KYU. She welcomed the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, participants, professors and a delegation from the Faculty of Education and International Studies at HiOA. The Norwegian delegation was led by Head of Studies, Ellen Watkinson and Janne Herseth, and in addition consisted of Head of Internationalisation, Kristin Merete Bugge, Head of Section Fred ArildPettersen, associate professors Jon Helge Sætre and Hanne Fossum, and assistant professors Torhild Skotheim and Mette Birgitte Helleve.
A number of presenters gave lectures on different elements of classroom management, and shared experiences from working in the educational sector in Norway and Uganda. Through discussion groups and workshops the participants shared perspectives and thoughts on classroom management. The conference concluded with a workshop on ideas for future collaborations related to the topic. There was a unanimous interest in working together in the future, on both classroom management and a wide array of related topics. Some of the topics for future collaborations suggested by the participants were inclusive education, retooling of head teachers and teachers, concrete methods and approaches to manage learners, the CARES-model, and joint research on the impact of national curriculum on classroom management.
The form of future collaborations was also discussed. There was a broad interest for similar workshops in the future, as well as joint research and innovation, joint programmes at undergraduate and master`s level, staff and student exchanges, and sharing of resources and thoughts online and through e-learning. Specifically the cooperation between the two institutions continues and evolves on a number of areas. The NORHEAD and FK projects are running for several years, and staff and students at Kyambogo are eligible to apply for the Master in Vocational Pedagogy. Kyambogo will be receiving exchange students from HiOA in the fall, as well as a new group of student teachers in January 2016. Several departments at the two institutions are in dialogue about the possibilities for joint research and programmes, for example the Department of Performing Arts at KyU and the Department of Primary and Secondary Teacher Education at HiOA. New exchange programs are being mapped, and other forms of collaboration are continuously explored.
The teacher is a facilitator of learning, who must create a welcoming classroom environment for students. His or her behaviour will foster a conducive classroom learning environment, by delivering lessons that foster students’ thinking at every level.
According to Dr. John Bwayo, consistence, flexibility, objectivity, friendliness and foresight are some of the qualities of a successful tutor. “A teacher should enhance student’s self-understanding” said John who stressed that creating a sufficient environment for learners is paramount. He cited the challenge of having to deliver lessons to up to 1000 students, where even clearly crafted lessons aren’t always well received. According to the TISSA report released in August 2013, a review of some PTC curriculum shows that a school year consists of three terms (11-13weeks) with an annual student workload averaging 1,400 hours per week; 35 weeks per year.) The curriculum consists of a mixture of academic and practical studies, with professional education studies, mathematics, English, Science health and social studies absorbing 50 percent of the teaching time.
He went on to elaborate that engagement, planning, mastery of the subject knowledge of student’s names are all strategies that can be implemented by teachers today.
Ellen Watkinson the Head of Studies Faculty of Education and International Studies then addressed the participants on a national project in Norway, detailing the Norwegian School system, home to one of the largest vocational training institutes. She explained a 5 year strategy set in motion on teacher principal ad school owner on competence building citing professional training, development of description of good class management, local development facilitation and working on exchange of experiences.
The Uganda Bureau Of statistics 2014 states that the 2013/13 Uganda National Household survey showed an overall literacy rate of 71 percent among persons aged 10 years and above. Findings reveal that men are literate than their female counterparts with literacy rates of 77 and 65 percent respectively. A trend analysis indicates a slight increase in the literacy rate over the years for persons 10 years and above from 69 percent in 2005/06 to 71 percent in 2012/13.
A detailed presentation on schools from the Norwegian perspective was delivered by two Norwegian teacher-students, which later opened up a platform for further discussions between Ugandan and Norwegian teacher students. Their presentation dwelled on their experiences teaching in various practice schools over their 3-4 months stay in Uganda. According to Ole Andreas Sagdahl and Nathalie Eknes, students are motivated to learn and exude creativity by finding new methods to learn using what’s available. They also pointed out some challenges as the classroom sizes, students’ participation, a lack of sufficient leaning materials and routines.
Carol Kavuma then gave a presentation on early childhood education/pre-primary and lower primary class management. “Teacher competence is a critical factor ” said Carol. Understanding children in large classes, skills of studying the child, cultivating trust among children, finding alternative ways to managing classes and overcoming our own biases “Managing discipline by telling a story, using a funny name, use of faces, puppetry – bad and good characters, praise and rewards, withdrawing benefits.”
The Uganda Bureau Of statistics 2014 indicates that primary school enrolment was at 8 million in 2011 and has been increasing steadily to about 8.4 million pupils in 2013, showing an upward trend for the last 3 years. With consideration of the diversity in classroom dynamics at the different levels of education Primary school class management was presented by Mr. Okiror Richard Headmaster Kabojja Primary School since 1977.
Professor Torhild Skotheim then presented Classroom management as a relational and emotional support. Through her background and family’s story we see the evolution of the Norwegian educational system that has shaped her into the person she is today. The Norwegian system is more about involving who the students are and the skills they possess and gives all students opportunities to match their ability wherever they are from. A teacher “...shall ensure that the physical and psychosocial working and learning environment promotes health, well-being and learning.”This is the main pillar that the Norwegian educational system is based on. Mette Birgitte Helleve then went on to deliver a second part under the same topic, based research anchored in social constructivism mainly where teachers establish good relations with students individually and in relation to class.
“The core of a good relationship is about being human, able to communicate and interact with others.” She said.Managing classrooms musically; by Jon Helge Sætre then opened up a new train of thought, in line with classroom managementproposing to participants, Is teaching a science or an art? Jon described teaching as a structure in action, with musical actions comparable to classroom management such as composing, conducting, improvisation, performing and dancing. “Composition: The teacher like a composer comes to the blackboard and performs a solo” said Jon.
To conclude the two day presentations, was a presentation on Management of an inclusive classroom by Dr. Paul Njuki from the Department of special needs studies sighting strategies for meeting diverse learning needs in the class room like Consider outside or alternative placement; some learners may require input beyond what an ordinary teacher can provide. “There is a limit to inclusion. Teachers should then be a link to other institutions that provide such trainings. Available options include; Collaboration with other professionals. Place a learner in a purpose based-school, where needs will be met either fulltime or on part-time basis.” said Dr. Njuki.
Writer KAREN BAYRA