Coaching teachers to become better educators

Speeches Shim

In Mozambique, as in most parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic upended the education system. Schools were shuttered for over a year and access to quality remote learning opportunities was extremely limited for most Mozambican children. Teachers also faced challenges in maintaining their skills, as they were restricted from gathering for professional development activities such as trainings, joint planning sessions, practice lessons, or peer coaching on classroom strategies for familiar or COVID-related challenges in the classroom.

These kinds of teacher training and professional development are key pillars in USAID’s support to the government of Mozambique’s education system, particularly the bilingual education expansion strategy. They allow teachers to continually learn, practice and grow as educators, so students have better prepared and engaged instructors. 

As schools began to open, the primary focus was ensuring they opened safely with the PPE supplies and other health measures that decreased the chances of contracting COVID-19.  After such a long break in classroom learning, making sure teachers were ready was also important though. 

That is why, during the June 2021 mid-term break, the classrooms of Rapale Secondary School in Rapale district, Nampula, were not empty as usual. Teachers from the surrounding primary schools were there to take part in a five-day peer coaching workshop facilitated by bilingual education trainers, with support from USAID Vamos Ler!/Let’s Read, a bilingual early grade reading program.   

Omar Chande is one of approximately 400 bilingual education trainers helping to equip teachers with the tools they need to deliver high-quality reading instruction in local language literacy and increase student achievement. He has received guidance from the program on how to carry out peer coaching and support teachers.

“Continuous professional development is an integral part of teacher education, and because of that, I believe coaching sessions are a very good opportunity for teachers to build their skills and share their experiences with their colleagues,” says Chande.

Peer coaching sessions were initially designed to take place on a few Saturdays throughout the school year; however, due to the pandemic, many primary schools in Mozambique have now scheduled classes on Saturdays in order to limit the number of students to 25 per class on a given day. As a result, Vamos Ler! adapted the workshop content and delivery to a one-week workshop. This time the program was able to support the facilitation of peer coaching between the more experienced teachers and the junior teachers, developing important mentor relationships. 

Trainers like Omar Chande are essential to the success of these activities. Mr. Chande has been leading training sessions with Vamos Ler! for the past four years and appreciates the methods used by the program. 

“I enjoy working with teachers. I am also a teacher, and seeing their progress during the trainings, the coaching, while visiting their classes is wonderful. The different methodologies introduced by the program are having a positive impact on teachers and most importantly on students…“ says Chande.

During this particular workshop, teachers dedicated time to discuss their adaptation to the curriculum changes resulting from the pandemic, then preparing and practicing lessons for the upcoming semester.
Peer coaching is a new approach for many teachers who are more accustomed to hierarchical supervision. During coaching there is space for reflection on teaching practices and support for collective problem solving.  While coaching does not replace pre-service or in-service training, this approach does pave the way for sustainability of improved classroom instruction.

USAID Vamos Ler!/Let’s Read is a five-year bilingual early grade reading program, implemented by Creative Associates International.  It focuses on improving reading and writing skills of more than 800,000 children, reaching 1,950 schools and over 8,000 teachers in 21 districts of Nampula and Zambezia Provinces. 

Narrative by Fernanda Matsinhe, Vamos Ler!
Photos by Neves Anselmo, Vamos Ler!

Issuing Country 
Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 4:45am

Last updated: September 07, 2021