Leadership Retreat 2nd October 2017
The A+ school principals and staff representatives gathered at the Early Learning Resource Unit (ELRU) for a day of professional development at the Africa A+ Leadership Retreat. The Retreat was planned and facilitated by Sandy Kent (executive director of Oklahoma A+ Schools), Anya Morris (Africa A+ project director), and Kauthar Ebrahim (Africa A+ ECD facilitator). Sandy Kent flew in from Oklahoma as part of Africa A+’s three year mentoring programme by Oklahoma A+ Schools. The A+ facilitation team had co-planned the Retreat via Skype with the following objectives in mind:
⦁ To strengthen the school leaders’ understanding of the A+ approach
⦁ To introduce the Africa A+ Implementation Guide to the school leaders
⦁ To enable the school leaders to engage in ways of implementing the A+ Essentials in their schools
The day began with tea, coffee, muffins, and a warm creative welcome. The question “What do the A+ Essentials look like in my school?” helped the school leaders to identify what was happening at their school. The scope of the A+ implementation became clear as the school leaders wrote down what they had observed in their schools. Sandy Kent expressed her delight at how much is already happening in the schools because changing attitudes and behaviour takes time. The question “How can the A+ Implementation Guide help my school as we work to meet national curricula objectives and aims?” saw the introduction of the Africa A+ Implementation Guide, a tool for operationalising the eight A+ Essentials. The Implementation Guide is exactly what it says; it is a guide and is not intended as a check list or a means to ensure compliance from the staff. The Implementation Guide was created for schools in response to a recommendation made in the 2017 Africa A+ evaluation report. The recommendation was based on feedback in 2016 from the A+ schools to researchers Linda Biersteker and Fiona Burtt. After lunch Charnell King from the Orff Music Society facilitated an experiential music session which had the group joyfully making music with marimbas. The afternoon session saw the school leaders planning and visualising the changes they would like to see in their schools in 2018. The day ended with reflections and feedback which will support the Africa A+ team going forward in 2018.