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Early Successes and Benefits of TFABBs Model-School Program
From the perspective of the Teachers and Principals:
- TFABB demonstrations have been so helpful in the classroom setting with children present (vs. in a summer workshop when children are not present).
- The school library has become a great resource.
- Children more interested in reading.
- Writing has really improved.
- Teachers find it helpful that TFABB suggests concrete skills for them to work on in between training visits.
- Teachers feel more confident in their skills (for example: reading aloud to children)
- "With Kims (the visiting trainers) and Kevinas (the PCVs) help, I can see myself putting the "readers workshop" model into practice. Now Im teaching the children what good readers and writers do."
- "Even if I get transferred, I will share my new skills with a new set of teachers!"
From the perspective of the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs):
- PCVs said they had good success with performing diagnostic reading tests (and showing teachers how to do so). The PCVs then formed small reading groups for below-grade-level readers (and also showed the teachers how and why to do so).
- The two PCVs think the leveled-reading book sets provided by TFABB were instrumental in their success with catching children up to grade level.
- Upon arrival, the PCVs noted that children did not have time to practice reading and creative writing on a daily basis. Now teachers are making time for children to practice reading and writing on a daily basis. In Silver Creek, the children in the equivalency of K-3 were never practicing writing. Now all children in the school at all levels have a writers notebook for daily practice. (The writers notebook is a key part of the TFABB language arts training curriculum.)
- Upon arrival, the PCVs noted that the teachers were not reading aloud to their students everyday. Reading aloud to children every day (or several times a day!) is also a central concept of the TFABB training curriculum, as hearing oral reading allows children to gain English fluency and to see the habits of a good reader. By the end of the year, all of the teachers had worked a "read aloud" into their daily schedules.
- In Silver Creek, the PCV and preschool teacher held a parent outreach activity for parents of pre-school age children.
From the perspective of the TFABB U.S. Team (visiting trainers and coordinators):
- In the past, our visiting trainers usually went to Belize in the summer, for the August workshops. The training trips to our new model schools marked the first time in several years that our trainers could visit a school for several days during the school year. The trainers were so pleased to see several of the TFABB approaches in use and also obtained a greater sense of where to go next in terms of training at each school.
- The immediate impact of a full-time model-school program is more measurable than TFABBs other activities, such as summer workshops. When daily support is given in a small school, the outcomes in that school can be directly tied to TFABBs efforts. The data we are collecting annually in each school includes: diagnostic reading test results; national test scores; and tri-annual classroom observation checklists. The marked increase in both schools in children reading at grade level is amazing news!
- One of our biggest goals in moving from a summer workshop model to a year-round support model was to show Belizean teachers how to get small reading groups going. The teachers were having a hard time conceptualizing and practicing this in a week-long summer workshop without children in the room. With less than one year of year-round support from the PCVs, teachers in the first two focus schools have come to appreciate the value of small reading groups in addressing children at various reading levels. This is crucial in these small, rural schools where teachers may have two or three grade levels in one classroom.
- TFABB is thrilled that village and PTA leaders in the three villages agreed to provide the labor to build bookshelves for all of the classrooms and libraries. Some of the principals said the village leaders would not agree to do so; they said this volunteer spirit had left the village. But the village leaders did not hesitate for moment before they agreed to build the shelves.