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Teacher Ng’oma in the US

  |   chicago, education, Uncategorized, zambia

        In April, Head Teacher Ng’oma from Hope Community School in Zambia arrived at the Chicago airport with one checked bag and a backpack. Two weeks later, he arrived back in Zambia with two checked bags, a backpack, and a carry on! With luggage full of technology, teaching materials, books, and exciting mementos from his trip to the US, Teacher Ng’oma returned home with a head full of memories and ideas to share with his learners and fellow teachers.


        During this trip, Teacher Ng’oma spent significant time in classrooms in Chicago and Kansas City to observe and learn new techniques, collaborate, and talk with other teaching professionals. Now that his teachers have computers, projectors, screens and document cameras, Teacher Ng’oma was especially interested in seeing how US educators integrate this technology into their everyday lessons.

        Teacher Ng’oma returned to Lincoln Park Preschool and Kindergarten, where he observed the many hands-on activities that help inspire the creativity of the littlest learners. He had the opportunity to talk with the four LPP teachers who will travel to Zambia this summer on the Spark Impact Trip.

        Teacher Ng’oma also noted the strong reading culture and related literacy curriculum in all the classrooms he visited. At Chicago’s Burr Elementary, teachers use Book Clubs to spark enthusiasm, interest, and critical thinking. When Burr teacher Sarah Crawford visits Zambia this summer, she will meet with Teacher Ng’oma and some of the Hope faculty to discuss how to implement Book Clubs. During his visit to Burr, Teacher Ng’oma spoke to Griselda Canas (an ESL specialist) about strategies for teaching English language learners. Based on her advice, Spark has purchased Phonemic Awareness curricula which will be delivered to Hope School in July. This will be especially useful for all the students at Hope, who speak the local language, Bemba, and must learn English, the national language of Zambia.  

       During these visits, Teacher Ng’oma observed how, at all levels, teachers use their large classroom screens more often than their whiteboards. Their screens are almost always on and used for sharing the classroom schedule, expectations, objectives, content, student work, and impromptu internet searches. Teacher Ng’oma used those screens to share a Google Slides presentation about the Hope School community with at least fifteen classes of students at the six schools he visited.

        Besides increasing Hope teachers’ use of technology, there are many other teaching strategies that Teacher Ng’oma and his faculty will consider for their classrooms. In the United States, many classrooms begin each lesson with a warm-up activity. From discussing current events to practicing computer skills to working on literacy, warm-up activities are a great way to stimulate conversation and begin to prepare for class. 

        At the Timothy Lutheran School in Blue Springs, MO, (and many of the others he visited on this trip), middle school students use daily planners to record assignments, activities, events, other important information.

        Many US teachers follow a project-based approach.  At East High School in Kansas City, Teacher Ng’oma observed students in business classes creating marketing plans and social media campaigns for their own “business”. These students applied theory to the real world, interacting with their community and putting their knowledge to the test. At The Latin School in Chicago, fifth grade students learned about entrepreneurship by creating their own computer application. Teacher Ng’oma was able to observe a lesson in which these students created surveys to collect data that would inform them about whether their App would be successful.

        Teacher Ng’oma plans to encourage his teachers to create “talking walls” with artwork, drawings, posters, and instructional materials like the bulletin boards he saw covering the walls of classrooms and hallways at every US school. This is a great way to share student work, unite the larger student body, and cultivate a colorful and engaging atmosphere. 

        At Pembroke HIll School in Kansas City, Teacher Ng’oma learned about the value of extended free play time for the youngest students. Pembroke’s long-standing tradition of pairing older and younger students for reading time and other activities is an idea which Hope is now considering to help improve literacy – with a Reading Buddy program for its oldest and youngest learners.

        By observing lessons, Teacher Ng’oma was able to watch how students interacted with their teachers, with technology, with new ideas, and with each other. In one memorable lesson, Teacher Tenaya Rhinehardt from University Academy in Kansas City taught about figurative language through independent Google searches and class notes.

        University Academy Teacher Danielle Farr continued her science module about the solar system, guiding her students towards best note-taking practices while practicing research skills. Through these incredible lessons and with these dedicated teachers, Teacher Ng’oma was able to brainstorm new ideas and adjustments for the classrooms at Hope. Teacher Ng’oma was especially attentive to how teachers implemented technology in their classrooms, as he plans to return and share his knowledge with the Hope staff.

         Despite all the hard work, learning, and collaborating, Teacher Ng’oma still found time to enjoy a little sightseeing. Teacher Ng’oma visited some of Chicago’s famous sites, including the Museum of Science and Industry and the Museum of Cotemporary Art. He also made sure to try another Chicago classic: deep dish pizza! 


        His experiences trying new foods continued in Kansas City, where Teacher Ng’oma enjoyed burnt ends, tacos, and a classic American breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits, sausage links, and homefries! Fueled with a full stomach, the sightseeing could continue. Teacher Ng’oma watched an exciting Kansas City Royals baseball game and learned about the history of baseball at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He was also able to spend time with many Spark supporters. 

        After an engaging and inspiring trip that was thoughtfully curated and hosted by Spark Board member Sue Bernstein, Teacher Ng’oma returned to the Hope community with stories, teaching materials, and exciting opportunities for new collaborations. We miss you already, Teacher Ng’oma!