Out of Africa and into the Classroom: A teacher's dream site on Africa!

 (Under construction)


Teacher Resources



Awassa Workshop:  Child-Centered Teaching

A group of 13 educators from Blanchard Alliance Church

went on a mission trip to Awassa, Ethiopia to deliver

a one-week workshop to 150 teachers on child-centered


The corporate headquarters of the Ethiopia-side church affiliate. Although this facility had a staircase leading to no second floor and no back wall, the place had heart.  Everybody inside worked like a team, night and day, helping us collate 150 packets of materials (binders), coordinate the sleeping quarters for our 150 participants, and, in general, run the one-week show.

The workshop was held at a local school, and begun each morning with a devotional           in this church facility.  Afterwords, classes dispersed to the school classrooms.  Attendees partook in four classes designed for K-8 grade teachers per day. 

At night we prayed a lot! In the morning we prayed a lot!  At lunch we prayed a lot!


My Classroom

Located just inside this door is a classroom for 90; 3-4 per seat at each of the benches.  Yes, I said 90.  Ethiopian teachers have a minimum of 60 students per class.  The men and women in our  workshop look a little cramped, but they were good sports about it.  Each of the teachers  conducting the workshop doubled up into teams, operating a total of five classrooms.  Can you  imagine trying to have time to assure that each child excels when there are 90 of them? 

The classroom included:

  • One teacher's desk and wooden chair.
  • "Black boards" which were to slick to write on with chalk.  I tried to pool together with my team to purchase effective new blackboards for the school - which would have cost us between $15-30 per member, but was voted down.. :-( 
  • No teacher supplies.
  • No books, paper or pencils.
  • Open windows, so birds occasionally flew through the classroom (a nice touch).



Monkeys occasionally scampered past our doorways, and made their presence known by chattering from the trees.  When class started, we told participants, everybody had to be on time.  "African time" is not always on time, you know.

Shari had the coolest classroom:



This was an ample set up, but when we arrived we realized we had to teach using supplies the teachers could also get their hands on after we left.  No tape, no tack stick, no paper.  Hmmm, what could we use for manipulatives that everyone had access to?  Buttons, stones and seed pods.  Sure, we thought about this in advance- that's why we brought 50,000 buttons!  You should have seen us trying to explain this to Customs. This team also collected and brought/shipped a couple of tons of books for Ethiopian schools and teachers.  You will see the much-heralded "unboxing" below!


Here we are; a classroom fit to hold 60-90 squiggling students.  In Africa there is no such thing as personal space, since everyone is used to  making use of all available resources  and cramming into small spaces...so the teachers buckled down, seated practically on top of each other, absorbing every word about how, in the United States we   address every child.

* You'll notice a lot of displays of friendship in the photos below.  In     most African countries public displays   of affection between members of the opposite sex are completely taboo, but same-sex displays of friendship are frequent. 



Where's Feres?  Little five-year-old Feres turned up at my door on the first day, and was my teacher's assistant by day five! No matter where you looked at that workshop, Feres was there.  He even ate lunch with us!  Not speaking a word of English, Feres became our little mascot.  We all fell in love.  His mother even invited me to his house when it was all over, where she honored me with a coffee ceremony!  If he would've fit into my suitcase, I would've taken Feres home.  Can you find Feres?