You can’t do something like the GLP programme without fundamentally changing your world view; until you’ve experienced life or lived in another country, in a different way from what you’ve always known, you can’t possibly understand people from different countries and the challenges that they face. In addition, it made me explicitly aware that I have the skills required to be a good teacher – in Rwanda you can’t rely on IT and resource boxes as they don’t exist. You have to go back to what you know and rely on your own creativity to give an active lesson. I have a lot more confidence in my abilities as a teacher now. The challenges I faced empowered me. You only grow as a person when you take risks and I didn’t fully appreciate that until Rwanda. The whole experience has reminded me of what I know and what I do well.
When you come back from Rwanda your enthusiasm for your career is refreshed. I have always been a teacher who wants to enthuse students, but now I’m a person who does not put a ceiling on myself – I constantly want to learn more, explore and take chances. Since participating on GLP I have been more inclined to take chances in my teaching, both in the methods I use and in the range of experiences I aim to offer the students. It’s been a learning curve that’s for sure, but I’ve been learning with a network of others. As a group, I think we have achieved a lot and I believe it is because we have been pushed out of our comfort zone, you might not know it at the time, it might take a while after your participation in GLP before you can reflect and consider how far you have come, but you will.
Living and working together with the rest of my cohort in Rwanda made me realise how much we all have to give. The synergies of everyone bouncing ideas off of each other blew me away. I couldn’t believe some of the ideas and I found it motivating and exciting. Since returning there isn’t one project that I’ve instigated that I have worked on independently, it has taken support in my own school and with colleagues, some who are also GLP alumni, who are very interested in Learning for Sustainability (LfS) and global education.
Some projects will be sustainable, others will not, but don’t feel disheartened by the projects that don’t flourish in a way that you hope they will. Use them as a stepping stone onto the next thing. In 2014 I started the Bridging Literacy Project. The project was truly inter-disciplinary and reciprocal. In Scotland, P5/P6 students from across five participating schools in Scotland (including my own) developed reading books around the theme of Soil. In Rwanda, School Based Mentors from IEE worked with students in five Groupe Scolaires on the same project but from a Rwandan perspective. In both countries children researched their local environment, practiced literacy and numeracy and were creative. At the end of the project the books were exchanged giving Rwandan children an insight into the work the Scottish children had undertaken and vice versa. The project continued to work in 2015 with additional schools engaging. This year, the number has dropped significantly but it continues to progress. In my school the students have started their own writing club just to write books for Rwanda. The project is also running in Muirfield Primary, with an adapted model to meet the needs of students at Muirfield. Both have become sustainable and no longer require input from me apart from transporting books to and from Rwanda.
Hazlehead Primary continues to look for sustainable and meaningful ways to engage our students in LfS whilst actively supporting Rwanda. One recent example of this is the work our school has done around rights and Chris Riddell’s “My Little Book of BIG Freedoms”. The book details 16 human rights with each one represented by an illustration. We decided to give each class a right to illustrate, in the upper stages some classes had two; each student throughout the school investigated the right and made an illustration which they felt encapsulated that right. We asked students from G.S. Shangi in Western Rwanda to do the same, which they did.