Dynamic learning workshop that expanded educators' teaching methods

A highly engaging PD workshop in Ghana.

“I have been to many training sessions (Cambridge, IB and other educational training sessions) and it is usually the same old stuff that is discussed, but sitting through the first hour and a half session of this, I know I am hearing something new and I totally love it.” This is what one of the dynamic learning workshop participants said to me during the first coffee break – less than 2 hours in to the 5-hour training session!

Pearson has been trying to enter the Ghanaian school qualification space for some time now and we have held two free seminars. The first one was poorly attended, despite the hard work and effort put into publicizing it. The attendance for the second was much better, but we still did not meet our target. So after those two free seminars, which were not optimally attended, we organized this dynamic learning workshop: a paid workshop; and this time, the response was awesome! The event was not marketed as an Edexcel event, but as a general training workshop for educators. We had participants from non-Edexcel schools and even from our local curriculum, who almost never attend such workshops – even when they are free.

Our Facilitator was Shahina Burnett. Her first ever trip to the rising continent, Africa, brought her to my motherland: Ghana. She was excited. I could feel it when we talked, and even during our drives around the capital, when she would be quiet, observing everything keenly. In her own words, she was “taking it all in”. She came prepared with Cadbury Eclairs to be used as rewards – incentives to encourage the participants to get involved. She also brought resource materials, training materials and her camera ☺.  She took several pictures, particularly of the food, to show to Iona, her training colleague. Iona had been to Ghana before and really wanted to come again this time around, but Shahina had beaten her to it. I am almost certain that the content of the chats and email exchanges between Shahina and Iona will make Iona determined to lock Shahina in a room when the next opportunity to visit Ghana arises, so she will be the one to come over, instead of Shahina!

The training session itself was fun, educational and participatory (thanks in part to Shahina’s charm and in part to the Eclairs). She spoke about how today’s world is vastly different from the one many of the participants grew up in; how technology has changed the world so much in the space of a decade; and how these changes will continue and will shape the lives of our children and those we are educating today. She also emphasized the importance of not only providing knowledge, but also of developing well-rounded, educated young people who have the knowledge and the softer skills needed to survive in this big old world: how teachers are fast becoming guides and not sages. The presentation was factually sound and all the major highlights were backed by solid research. We went a little beyond our scheduled closing time and the participants didn’t mind at all. In the end, new friends were made and partnerships formed; but most importantly, people left with the confidence to impart what they had learned to their staff and students and with a commitment to begin to implement what they had heard. Two separate institutions were so impressed that they invited us to their schools for training sessions with their staff.

Organizing this training was complex but extremely rewarding. Special thanks go to Christine Hayes, who mentioned dynamic learning during our February event and whetted people’s appetite for the training. And to Shahina; she was such a trooper! She is an excellent educator. Anna Burton made timely suggestions that contributed to the huge success of this workshop. Ghana is set to have a few more similar successes this year!

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