‘Inspiring Teachers; Impacting Students’

Mary Beth Oyebade, 2-18-14

workshops_Oyebade_2-18-14.jpg
Many of the workshops were so popular that some participants
 observed through the windows.

Mary Beth and Bayo Oyebade are ELCA missionaries in Nigeria. Mary Beth works with the Foundations Academy. In a recent entry in their blog, "Establish the Work of Our Hands", she described an inspiring conference for teachers. See the blog for more details and photos from the conference. To support Mary Beth and Bayo, or another of the ELCA's over 240 missionaries in the global church, click here.

Our school, Foundations Academy, hosted a teachers conference for 300 teachers from the Jos area on Saturday, Feb. 1. What a great day it was! We originally planned for 250, but due to intense pleading, we had to find a way to squeeze 50 more seats into our hall!

We kicked off the morning with a powerful keynote address by Juliet Okafor on "Read Aloud." She exhorted us to read aloud to our children — both those at home and those in our classrooms. This is a fairly new concept to many people. In fact one man wrote in his evaluation: "I consider myself an educated man, but I have never sat down to read to my children for even 15 minutes."

David Onotu, a Foundations Academy teacher, rendered a powerful spoken word original poem on the value of education and reading. [You can read the poem and more on the reaction to it here.] I had read his poem before the conference (and I thought it was great), but the dramatized reading gave me chills and brought tears to a few eyes. A number of conference participants said David's poem was one of the best parts of the entire day. 

Dr. Danny McCain, professor at the University of Jos, delivered a fine keynote address titled "For the Love of Learning." He challenged us as educators to help students to learn just for the love of discovering something new. He made one of his points based on Proverbs 25:2— "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

God knows everything. It brings him delight to see his children discovering what he has hidden, and we in turn are delighted as we discover his hidden secrets.

We are grateful to Dr. McCain for his powerful challenge to us as teachers.

After a brief snack time, we delved into our workshop sessions. We had enough resource people on hand from Foundations Academy as well as other schools that we were able to offer 25 different workshops! The worst part for our participants was the agony of choosing just four! We had to offer that many workshops because our rooms are quite small and we needed enough space for everyone to spread out. It was hard to predict which workshops would attract the most people; consequently, we often had scenes like [the photo above]. …

I led a workshop called "Teacher Training." I shared my strong conviction that every school needs to develop their own teacher training program. Yes, most of our teachers have degrees, but teacher training still needs to be ongoing. With our Foundations Academy teachers, I train in teaching methodology as well as content areas twice a week. A number of principals said they are renewing their commitment to really work on training their teachers. As we invest in our teachers, our students will reap the benefits. …

During our final closing session a few people were given the opportunity to share what they had gained from the conference. One woman rose from her seat, took the microphone, and said she was astounded to learn that play can be considered a teaching method for young children. (This is why events like this conference are so important.) …

Bayo was there too. He was trying to get the media to come and cover the event. He was successful!

A committee of nine Foundations Academy teachers worked hard to make the conference a success. We have discovered there is a sense of excitement and encouragement whenever we host a conference. We love seeing teachers develop a passion for teaching. We will do what we can to further the cause of education in Nigeria. 


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