One of our primary goals as the school operating partner for the Amajingqi partnership project involves developing school leadership capacity. Coaching and mentoring are an important part of this. This is the key role of our Axium Education Specialists who support teachers and Senior Management Teams in their professional development; providing mentorship, feedback and support with the aim of growing teaching practices and instructional improvement strategies.
“Every successful person in the world, be it in sports, music or whatever field, these people have coaches! So in the education sector we need to accept that we are not perfect; we can have coaches - it’s not something to look down on but an opportunity to grow.” - Itayi Nyakudya.
In 2018 Itayi Nyakudya and Jacob Junior (JJ) Chirumanzi, two of our Axium Education Specialists, enrolled as Instructional Coaches in the Instructional Leadership Institute (ILI). The ILI is one of our international partners who offer high quality support to our work in Amajingqi, and Zithulele.
“The ILI is a school leadership development programme designed to train a cohort of effective school principals who can create meaningful change in South Africa’s most disadvantaged schools. The programme is centred around ‘instructional leadership’ which focuses leadership attention on facilitating quality teaching and learning.”1
JJ and Itayi’s role is to work alongside teachers and principals helping to capacitate leadership teams to implement the training and strategy learnt through the ILI.
The Program is a two year interactive course and involves a combination of four residential training workshops, in-school coaching and mentoring, virtual sessions, peer learning and ongoing support through a network of coaching.
Itayi and JJ, along with two principals from our partner schools, recently returned from Joburg having completed the second residential training course. They both agreed that it was a strenuous but worthwhile week.
“It was actually a marathon!” JJ joked. “When you are in a marathon sometimes you feel like you want to give up; but if you keep the end goal in mind, you will find some strength to go forward. It was a good marathon at the end. When we came out, we felt that we are really learning and we really stretched our feet and we did something productive.”
Role playing scenarios is one of the ways in which the teams explored shifting organisational culture within their schools. Itayi described it as “a little awkward at first” but, for him, it was the part of the week that “resonated the most”. The rehearsing and repetition of these scenarios is an important first step in building excellent school habits. These well-rehearsed scenarios can now be confidently played out by the principals in their schools as they steadily build up an excellent school culture.
Part of the week’s activities involved looking back on the first residential training workshop in October 2018; celebrating the successes that had been achieved in the six months that followed and locating the gaps that still need addressing. In particular, a stand-out for JJ was looking at the shared practices in other schools. In preparation for the workshop, each school team filmed a routine they had been working on. As a group, they were then able to watch and comment on one another’s routines. JJ noted that, “it was very interesting: it was not something from the books or the universities but something from within us. Contextually, this was very relevant”.
What a privilege to cheer our Axium participants on from the side-lines as they work alongside teachers and school leaders to implement their learning. We look forward to what their continued learning can bring to the team as they set their sights on the next residential course in October.