Africa A+ Summer Conference 2020

The annual Africa A+ Summer conference was held on the 25 January 2020 in Cape Town. The conference was attended by 57 participants from five A+ schools: iThemba Pre-primary, Rainbow ECD Centre, Gerard’s Educare, Chameleon Campus, and Fish Hoek Pre-primary. 

 The conference was in true A+ style: everyone got involved and worked together in imaginative and innovative ways. Behind the fun was a serious intention: if we want our teachers to nurture children’s 21st century skills, then we need to make sure that the teachers are in touch with and enjoying their own creative, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills. After each activity the participants transferred what they had experienced into the classroom by discussing How could I do this with my children? What would I need to change? What would the children learn? What links can I make with the curriculum?

Aziza Ebrahim, an observer at the conference said “I am blown away. I am just blown away. This is what teachers need; not more certificates.”

The highlight of the day were the three elective workshops:

Workshop 1, iZinto (Loose Parts). Using their creativity and teaching knowledge, the participants created artworks and learning activities for children from ’treasure’ (small loose recyclable items). 

Workshop 2, Bob the Builder. The participants used their imagination and problem-solving skills for creative engineering. Using sucker sticks, pegs, and clips the participants explored design elements, balance, material strength, weight, and height. 

Workshop 3, Squish and Squash. The participants took ordinary playdough and made it into an extraordinary teaching tool.

After lunch the five schools planned how to apply the A+ approach in their school. The school leaders and A+ facilitators worked on ways to support A+ implementation for the remainder of 2020. iThemba and Chameleon Campus received a certificate celebrating their three year A+ participation.

The participants were asked “What have you learned today?” and “What do you plan to do differently at your school?” Here are some of the responses:

  • I’ve learned so much today, words can’t express what’s needed to say.
  •  Story telling can be so much better when you are active instead of letting the children just sit on the mat.
  • Do not limit your learners’ creativity. You must become creative. Allow for open-ended questions to be asked.
  • All the resources are there, but you never look at it in such a way.
  • During our staff meetings to do creative things …. for everyone to understand and see the different creativity that can be built amongst us.