Thursday, January 12, 2012

Professional Development Teachers Retreat (Program for AAC) Day

January 7th, 2012

Clement Ntim showing communication passports
The day started off as we woke up early in pitch black darkness, heading to Nkawkaw 5:00 in the morning. Today was a special and important day for all of us (including Ghanaian special education teachers) as the Professional Development Teachers Retreat (Program for ‘AAC’ Day) was held in Nkawkaw. The purpose of the professional development retreat was to share language skills and knowledge with the special education teachers and do collaborative work with the Ghanaian colleagues in order to enable students with special needs to learn at higher levels. All the TC SLP students spent the night before preparing educational materials (e.g. name tags, name tag holders, AAC cards) for this significant event. Due to lack of sleep and exhaustion, many felt tired and dozed off in the bus until we arrived at the Osankwa hotel at 10:00am. However, as we got closer to our destination, we became alert with alacrity as we noticed two figures standing and waiting in front of the hotel. They were Belinda Bukari (Head Master/Teacher at a Unit School) and Clement Ntim who also were in charge of leading the professional development retreat. They warmly greeted us when we arrived at the hotel. When entering the conference room, we noticed that the room was packed by eager Ghanaian teachers who came from unit schools of many regions.
When the teachers retreat began, Clement initially acknowledged Cate Crowley and Miriam Baigorri’s endeavors and great efforts as he referred them as the “brain[s] behind this whole wonderful event” and showed deep appreciation of their hard work to make an educational and social change in Ghana. An introduction of the Communication Passport regarding its term, use, purpose, and needs for target populations was presented by Clement Ntim. His transparent explanation and passion for the aids that can be provided to children with nonverbal or limited verbal communication was impressive and straight to the point. He emphasized the value of the passport and the significant impact it will bring upon students who use it. The other teachers expressed deep interest and eagerness to learn about this communication system as they nodded their heads frequently while taking notes or pictures. Afterwards, the teachers and students broke into small groups to create a Communication Passport with collaborative work. The teachers were specifically instructed to select an appropriate candidate of Communication Passport from their class in advance to the retreat. Each group presented their Communication Passport with refreshing ideas and thorough details that amazed not only the TC students but the clincial directors and supervisor. 
Belinda introduced name tags with symbols and provided literacy and language activities that can be used and taught the teachers a simple song that can be used during attendance. The TC SLP graduate students also shared additional activities that could be applied monthly during attendance or classes for other subjects. Afterwards, AAC market cards were distributed to the teachers with information on how the AAC can be effectively used in practical settings. Toward the end of the teachers retreat, all teachers that participated in this professional development received a certificate to honor their work in Ghana and also their achievement in acquiring educational knowledge and skills. Thanks to the Wyncote Foundation, we were also able to purchase educational resources and books and distribute them to the teachers along with the certificate. The teachers retreat was a huge success. 
Here is a 3 minute video on the day

African sunset
We then continued on our journey for the final destination of the day, Kumasi. The plan was to stay at the KNUST School of Engineering Guest House. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the guest house, the manager made a mistake of reserving our rooms for the following day. Having no choice, we needed to seek another hotel accommodation for the night. The closest place was called King’s Tower, but running out of luck, we could not be able to get ourselves rooms. One colleague was witty enough to quote at that moment, ““All this in and out, back and forth, is worse than being in a relationship”. While heading toward another hotel, we were fortunate to see a beautiful African sunset. The red sun hung low in the sky, looking as if it was nested comfortably above the lush forests with beautiful tropical trees, creating a magnificent view. The African sun put a nice, pleasant smile on our faces making us forget about our worries for a moment. But then, back to reality, we kept on searching for another hotel the hope to have a place to rest. Our final stop was the Treasure Land Hotel, a place where Cate had mentioned to us a funny story about a Peeping Tom (or a Peeping Kwami) at this hotel. Hopefully, nobody will have the thrilling experience of meeting this mysterious figure.
It was a long day but nonetheless a memorable day that we won’t forget. We are looking forward to another adventurous day at Kumasi tomorrow.

Binna Lee

No comments:

Post a Comment