Teacher Mentor Program
The Teacher Mentor Program began in 2018 when we realized that teachers needed support in implementing the Ugandan government's National Literacy Model.
Our Literacy Specialists work with 240 teachers at 90 schools to improve their understanding of the model and provide them with guidance and feedback as they learn to apply it in their own classrooms.
The National Literacy Model was introduced to the Lango Sub-region in 2014 with Primary 1 materials. Over the next four years, schools in the sub-region received literacy materials for local language and English up to Primary 4. Uptake of the model has been challenging due to a range of factors. In 2017 we decided to re-focus the expertise we had acquired in local language instruction through the development of our own literacy model to ensure that the National Literacy Model was successful.
The Teacher Mentor Program is a voluntary two-year training program for teachers in P1 and P2.
Teachers who participate in the program will acquire five core competences:
1. The ability to effectively implement the new national literacy curriculum in at least one grade level;
2. The ability to understand and explain to other teachers the fundamental literacy theories upon which the national literacy model is based;
3. The ability to manage a classroom effectively;
4. The ability to speak, read and write Leblango in a professional manner;
5. The ability to mentor other teachers to be effective literacy instructors.
Our Training Model:
In the past, we relied on a residential training model, supplemented by instructional videos and teacher mentors as trainers. For the Teacher Mentor Program, we are trying to reduce costs by implementing a Community of Practice training model.
Teachers applied for the program as a school group. Of the 250 school applications we received, we accepted 90, totaling approximately 240 teachers.
Teachers meet weekly in their Community of Practice teams to go through self-guided instructional texts on the pedagogy of the national literacy model and the orthography and grammar of Leblango. Twice per term, teachers meet in regional groups for Continuous Professional Development trainings at a nearby school. They discuss the chapters they've covered and take a test to assess their acquisition of the content. Every teacher also receives one support supervision visit to their classroom each term by either a tutor from Loro Primary Teachers' College or a Mango Tree Literacy Lab staff member.
Teachers in our program assess their learners on key literacy competences at the end of each term. One of the "Big Benchmarks" we've set for teachers and parents is that P1 pupils should be able to identify at least 30 Leblango letters in one minute by the end of Term 3. We've trained the Mentor Teachers to implement an EGRA-style "Letter Name Knowledge " test and administer it to 50 random pupils in their classroom at the end of each term. Here are the results of our data so far:
To provide some context, as part of a randomized control trial administered by the University of Illinois in 2014, results of the Letter Name Knowledge Test indicated that on average, pupils in the Lango Sub-region could read approximately 6 Leblango letters in one minute by the end of Primary 1.
We are also gathering data on other key reading and writing pupil competences including:
Familiar Word Reading
Oral Reading Fluency and Comprehension
The current participants will complete their final assignments at the end of the 2019 academic year. Teachers who have successfully demonstrated their ability to master the five core competences will be handed over to their district education officials in early 2020 with the mandate to utilize them to support improved implementation of the national literacy model.
Our plan is to revise our model and instructional materials throughout 2020. This will include adding content for Primary 3 Mentor Teachers. If funding becomes available, we will offer another Teacher Mentor Training in the Lango Sub-region from 2021-22.
We are also interested in sharing our mentor training materials and approach with organizations working to support implementation of the national literacy model in other parts of Uganda.