If 2020 was a lesson in adaptability and courage, 2021 has certainly been a year of perseverance and resilience. We have done more than just “hold our own” in the prolonged storm of Covid, we have navigated the year with continued determination which has resulted in much progress.
All staff returned in 2021 which facilitated a smooth, easy start into the year, albeit slightly delayed, with continued Covid procedures needing to be kept in place. I was amazed at how successfully we managed to adapt to the new norm of protocols.
A year of training
One positive that African Angels has taken away from Covid is the increased opportunities for professional development, due to many workshops being offered virtually. Webinars have become the norm and our teachers have made good use of them. Thank you to ISASA who have made each of these opportunities known to us.
Foundation Phase teachers (Grades R to 3) benefitted greatly from Early Childhood Development and Neuroscience webinars held by St Andrews School for Girls and St Peters schools during the months of June, August and October. Play and the development of gross motor skills and the impact these have on learning were often highlighted.
With the introduction of the POPI Act enforcement at the end of June, our Admin Head Sharon attended a two-day workshop to get up to speed on the necessary requirements. Sharon also attended a two-day Performance Management workshop which covered a variety of topics and brought a very different perspective to the usual check list approach.
The focus in September was Think Equal, a holistic social-emotional learning program focusing on social equality; gender, racial and religious equality; social and emotional health and well-being; and global citizenship. It aims to teach children universal values of compassion, empathy and respect; and skills such as critical thinking and peaceful conflict resolution. All Foundation Phase staff and assistants, including Lindiwe Siqgaza (Ikhwezilomso creche) completed 14 short training modules and were awarded a certificate of completion. The program was introduced into the classrooms at the beginning of Term 4 and teachers began noticing changed behaviour in some learners almost immediately
In October we had our initial school capability assessment with Corwin, the training branch of Visible Learning. This gave Corwin an overview of which areas would be most beneficial to work on next year ensuring that our learners are learning by design, not chance. We have our first virtual workshop with John Hattie, the founder of Visible Learning, and Shane Crawford our designated Corwin consultant, in January. In the interim, staff have been familiarising themselves with the language and ideas of Visible Learning, implementing certain aspects and carrying out surveys with the learners. The Visible Learning Leadership team have also mapped out the project plan for 2022, as we move towards full VL implementation at African Angels. We would not be able to progress into VL without the support of a US based South African expat, Martin, who is generously financing key roles for 2022.