2. Inviting visitors into school
Inviting community members into the classroom will help to motivate pupils and build their storytelling expertise in the home language. You can also ask your visitors to offer their knowledge of stories, to make sure that the stories the pupils tell are as complete and authentic as possible. This will mean that these stories become a rich resource for learning.
If you have a large class, this kind of community support is particularly helpful. Asking for support from your head teacher and colleagues may make it easier to get some members of the community involved on a regular basis.
Case Study 2: Inviting community participation in an Open Day
Four teachers at St Mary’s Junior Primary School in Dar Es Salaam were all enrolled in the same NTI distance-learning teacher upgrading programme. One of the modules asked them to explore how resources around them could be used in the classroom. They did some work on collecting boxes, bottles, plants and other resources and using them in science, mathematics and language activities. But the module reminded them that people are the most valuable resource for learning. It suggested that they arrange an Open Day for pupils and older community members to share their knowledge and skills.
The day the four teachers organised was a great success. Mrs Rwakatare, the School Governing Body chairperson, told the history of the school. Some older community members demonstrated crafts, such as basket weaving, tobacco curing, and beadwork, and women renowned for their cooking gave recipes for traditional dishes. Various grandfathers and grandmothers told itan (traditional tales).
Then it was the turn of the pupils to demonstrate what they had learned at school. The day ended with the performance of songs and dances by different groups.
As a result of the activities of the day, several community members became regular visitors to the school. They passed on their skills in various crafts and told stories, which were later used in class.
Activity 2: Coaching from community ‘experts’
You will need to plan this activity well in advance and allow a whole morning or afternoon for it.
- Arrange your pupils into groups of the same home language. Ask each home language group to invite someone from their community to class to help pupils with their storytelling skills. Give each group a written invitation to take home (see Resource 1: Sample invitation letter).
- On the day, ask the community members to join the group and listen to the pupils telling stories. Ask the ‘experts’ to give the pupils guidance and advice on how to improve the stories and their storytelling.
- Once the ‘training’ part is over, groups can come together and listen to stories from the experts. Songs, poems and riddles could also be shared.
What did the community participation add to the learning in your classroom?
Were you pleased with the way you organised your activity?
What would you do differently next time?