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Katy Blackledge

When I decided to go to Malawi, I didn’t know what to expect or what I was going to achieve when I got there, all I knew was that I wanted to volunteer in Malawi and that LSU sounded like the perfect organisation to do so with. As a primary school teacher, I decided to get involved with the Teach-to-Teach programme, as that is where my skills and passion lie. Initially I was unsure of what my role in Malawi would involve, so I began to get prepared by creating resources to take out with me and to think of some potential activities to do with the teachers when I was out there, which made me feel a little more organised.

On my first day in Malawi, driving up to Mkunkhu School in the back of the truck, I knew my experience was going to be one I would remember forever and that would change my life. The smiling faces of the teachers and children immediately melted my heart! I also had the privilege to work with some of the girls at Tilinanu and the boys from the foster home, delivering homework clubs to help them with their studies; it was fantastic to see the children come to life and progress in their learning.

During my first visit to the school, I got to know the teachers on a personal level, talking to them, singing with them, playing ice breaker games and questioning them about their job role at the school and the difficulties they face on a daily basis. From this, I discovered that my experience was going to entail a lot more than I had initially imagined. Following this, I developed my project aims and planned out the duration of my time, so that I knew I would be able to address and overcome some of their current barriers. I planned a range of workshops that would address; class sizes, class allocation, teacher timetables, resources, resource management, teaching strategies, behaviour management and progression and consistency in teaching and learning.

One of my main achievements during the workshops was developing yearly/ termly plans from Nursery to Standard 6, together with Ashley (another volunteer) and the teachers, which is now enabling the teachers to plan and teach effective lessons that will allow the children to learn and progress. Towards the end of my second week I observed the teachers and it was a delight to see them using many of the strategies and activities I taught them, but more importantly, to see them and the children smiling and enjoying learning!

My time at Mkunkhu school was truly incredible and I achieved so much more than I ever thought was possible, due to the passion, enthusiasm and determination of the teachers. It was an absolute pleasure to be part of the Teach the Teacher programme and I cannot wait to get back to Malawi next year to continue with what I have started.

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Katy wrote a very detailed report on her findings at Mkunkhu School, you can read it here

Do you think you could help with our teach a teacher project? You could make a real difference over in Malawi. Why not read more about our volunteer programmes and get involved.

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