ATER is currently implementing a very important project aimed at establishing and sustaining English teacher Communities of Practice (CoPs). The main purpose is to improve teacher English proficiency, teaching skills, utilizing locally available resources, and increasing practice of English procedural language used in class. CoPs is where groups of teachers are encouraged to create self-organized communities where teachers can become more comfortable sharing best practices, information, and resources; all this happening in English.
Over 150 teachers who are members of five groups in across the country empathically understand why teachers need additional English learning/practice and to practice the kinds of activities that can be used to help them expand their repertoire of classroom procedural language, improve their teaching skills, and be able to meaningfully utilize locally available resources to improve teaching and learning.
Many of us remember (or many of us have heard of) foreign language classes where the only time the foreign language is heard is when passages in the textbook are being read aloud or when students are giving their answers to questions in the textbook. CoPs are generally designed to provide teachers with opportunities to share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. In CoPs, teachers support one another by sharing solutions to issues they encounter in the classroom, encourage one another in their teaching, and generate new ideas to bring to the classroom. During the 2015-2016 school year, ATER received an English Language Fellow (ELF) from the US Embassy in Kigali whose job is to help the five CoPs with professional development trainings and workshops.
Five teacher groups have already been established in Kicukiro, Muhanga, Huye, Ngoma, and Kayonza districts and have held workshops that were organized by participating teachers with the help from ATER leadership and the ELF. Our aim is to create more CoPs across the country in the coming years to be able to reach out to more English language teachers in need.