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Improving teaching of mathematics through teacher learning circles

The Teacher Learning Circle at Chiole Primary School in Ntcheu district has been active since 2016. Every month, the TLC meets to discuss teaching and learning issues.

Chiole is one of the 200 schools taking part in the NNP pilot phase and so this year, their TLC has been meeting to discuss the teaching and learning of mathematics in lower primary standards. The TLC typically meets after school in a classroom. 11 teachers attended the TLC in February.

Following a quick warm-up activity, the Section Head, Treza Shumba, invited her colleagues to share their recent successes and challenges in teaching mathematics. Beatrice M’mangeni, a standard 1 teacher said she was delighted to see her learners counting up to 50 with confidence, but she was concerned that some of them were struggling to write numbers. Colleagues responded with a reminder that learners had just started school and that learning to write numbers requires practice.

Mayamiko Tsamba, a teacher in standard 3, reported that some learners have already completed the workbook page before they come to class. The head teacher, Sautso Kanyong’onyeka, appreciated the enthusiasm of learners and their parents, and said he would talk with the Parent Teachers Association to help ensure that learners complete the pages in their workbooks in class.

The teachers then turned their attention to the topic for the TLC, ‘Teacher led activity with focus on problem solving’. Teacher-led activities prepare the learners for the independent completion of tasks in their workbooks.

The Section Head took the role of a teacher while the rest of teachers took the role of learners. She demonstrated solving a problem similar to the one on the page in the Learner Workbook and then shared another example for teachers to solve. Then she called on two of the teachers to explain the strategies they had used to find the answer during the role play. After the role play, the TLC discussed the value of having learners explain the way they solved a problem and why it is important to select learners who have used different strategies.

Speaking after the TLC, standard 2 teacher, Misonzi Manda, said, “In today’s TLC, I saw some new strategies for solving problems about division that I will use with my class”.
Teacher Learning Circles are small teacher groups that learn from and support one another with the aim of improving teaching and learning outcomes. Schools involved in the pilot of the NNP are using TLCs regularly, which is aiding delivery of the new curriculum.