Friday, April 24, 2009

Michelle Rhee, a woman of strength

We met Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of Columbia School District in the first day of EFL Educators workshop.The first thing I noticed about her when she walked in the meeting room that she was a very strong woman. When she started talking about the schools at Washington DC she became a woman with a passion. She explained the system of education at US, what is difference between public schools and charter schools. We were informed by the Chancellor that Washington DC was considered a "high risk area" due to the high drop out from schools. She told us about her work in closing down schools which were not doing well and using the extra funds to increase the number of teachers in some schools. She told us that she is only concerned with fixing the schools and that she thinks if she can provide good teachers in good schools they will have better academic records. She said that every child have the right to be educated without regard to the color of skin. The following quotation I took from the official site of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

"Chancellor Michelle Rhee was appointed by Mayor Adrian Fenty June 12,
2007 She leads D.C. Public Schools, a district numbering 50,000
students and 144 schools.
In the Mayor’s search for a change agent for schools in the District,
experts in education recommended Ms. Rhee, who had already transformed
many urban public school systems through her work with The New Teacher
Project (TNTP). Results drive the Chancellor every day. Whether she is
developing effective measurements to track student achievement and
teacher quality; talking with principals and teachers in one-on-one
meetings; developing new measures to hold herself and staff accountable
for their roles in student achievement; traveling throughout the
community to engage parents and other stakeholders in our schools;
establishing partnerships with neighborhood organizations; meeting with
business leaders as she transforms a broken organizational structure into
one that works for students and families; or ensuring that needed
repairs are completed to create physical learning environments serve
students, Chancellor Rhee’s vision rests on results."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sally Smith, a woman with a vision

During the EFL Educators workshop which I attended at the the United States we visited the Lab School. The school was stared in 1967 by Sally Smith a great women with a great vision. The school teaches children with learning disabilities through art. The school was amazing, I was not able to visit the senior part of the school because I chose to visit the primary section. All the children were working on activities, they were learning by doing not by listening. I was lucky to see an academic club about the Renaissance history, the children were wearing clothes from the Renaissance. They were soldiers from the crusades and their teacher was a queen from medieval times. The children were learning history by living it. It was so great to watch the activities going in the different classes. At the end of the visit we were taken to exhibit room were pictures of former students of the Lab School were shown. They are famous women and men in the different walks of life. Nothing is impossible.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Talking with my students

Today I had a very nice experience with my students. Today was my first lecture after my return from the States as I was introducing my self I asked them how long have they been studying English Languge. They started counting and it turned to be six years. So I told them you must know English well but it is a passive English because you are not practing it. So one of the students asked for permission to talk. He said in excellent English that they welcome me back and they are happy that I said they know English. They want to prove that they are good students and that they will work very hard to learn English. All the class was happy and they clapped for him. I was so much suprised and happy that they are so motivated and I think we will learn a lot togther.

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009 EFL Educators Workshop

I am always late in recording events in my blog but late is better than never. I have just returned from the United States after attending the 2009 EFL Educators Workshop organized by CIED at Georgetown University, Washington DC. The participants in group 1 were from Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Madagascar, Timor-Leste, Brazil, Nepal, Indonesia, Mexico, Rwanda, Ukraine, India, West bank, Yemen, and me from Sudan. The workshop started from the 17th till 23rd of March. We worked from 7 in the morning till 5 or 6 in the afternoon nonstop. On the weekend we were taken on a tour to see Washington DC and we were even taken to the National Theatre to attend a theatre production A Chorus Line. I was so much excited by the workshop and by meeting other EFL Educators from all different parts of the world. We were not just learning from the presentations or the field visits but we were learning from each other. I learned from my fellow educators about their countries and cultures. What was so amazing after all is that we were so different from each other but we were able to enjoy each other company in such an amazing way and I think this is because we were all English language educators. I felt that English language is really a global language. We now have our own social network at Ning.
The workshop was so much organized that I thought it was the not the first time but it was the first time. Every detail was taken care off even my early flight to New York to finish my exist visa. I think the success of the workshop was because all the staff at CIED were working as one team for the comfort and benefit of all the participants. When we were wondering about shopping we were directed to the right shops which were amazing especially Best Buy a huge supermarket for all electronic stuff.
I feel that it is my responsibility to start documenting down all what I learned and to share it with my fellow teachers in Sudan.