For the past two years, The Foundation For Tomorrow has awarded select teachers in Meru and Arusha City Councils with a Most Outstanding Teacher Award (MOTA). The general objective of this award is to increase teachers’ motivation, self-belief, and professional identity, and also to influence school management teams to stay aware of positive professional practices and set high expectations for school employees.
This month, we conducted an evaluation study to test how the recognition and awarding of the outstanding teachers results in an increase the awarded teachers’ motivation, self-belief, and professional identity, and also that of their peers. The evaluation also aimed to determine whether MOTA has influenced the school management teams’ awareness of good teaching practices.
The evaluation study was carried out through interviews with the awardees and observation in their respective schools and classrooms. According to the evaluation finding MOTA has positively influenced the awardees, other teachers and school managements in many ways. Below are some of the evaluation results which demonstrates the impact of MOTA.
The MOTA has encouraged and inspired the recognized and awarded teachers to put more effort into the use of teaching aids during instruction and trying new techniques to improve instruction. The awarded teachers noted that creativity and innovation, as well as ability to create a rewarding and engaging learning experience, were among the criteria that used during the search of the most outstanding teacher. The award has inspired them to use a variety of teaching aids and continue to think of fresh approaches. The majority of the school leaders pointed out that MOTA increased the creativity of teachers in making and using various teaching aids. For instance, one school management team noted, “After receiving the award Mr. Mdee (awardee) has increased innovative techniques in creating different teaching resources. For example, he created a Knowledge Television – one resource which contains different subjects and topics.”
One awardee noted:
“The recognition for receiving the award acted as a catalyst for increasing my efforts. Since then, I have worked extra hard, eager to learn new teaching techniques through reading books and online resources. Implementing these techniques in the classroom has challenged me to continue to do things differently for the sake of my students. I see myself as a role model for the other teachers in my school.”
Teachers’ interview responses provided insight about how they felt as a result of receiving the award. There was consistency in the interview responses between the awardees, other teachers, and school leaders. The awardees reported that the award challenged them to do better to become the best teachers they can be and continue to be a role model to other teachers in their respective schools. The school leaders reported that the awards inspire other teachers to improve their teaching habits, as they aspire to follow in the awardees footsteps and one day gain recognition for their own teaching performance.
Respondents revealed that the recognition and awarding of outstanding teachers has strengthened relationships between teachers, school committees, and parents. It has increased cooperation as well as teamwork among teachers and school management. Teacher focus group discussions and awardees’ interviews attested that MOTA has contributed to the collaboration of teachers in creation of teaching and learning resources, the identification and support of challenged learners, and in working as a team in the assessment of students.
Awardee from Meru District “…. Unlike before, the award and recognition has strengthened bonds and cooperation with my fellow teachers, we have been able to co-create teaching aids and encourage their use because it was one of the criteria behind why I was selected for the award. I came back to my school after receiving the award, and my colleagues felt valued as well. It was not ‘Me’ awarded, but ‘We’ – all the teachers were part of the achievement I was recognized for.”
MOTA has built the trust of teachers and school leaders towards the awarded teacher. This is demonstrated by the willingness of other teachers to ask for help in the preparation of teaching aids and wanting to learn best teaching practices from the awardee. MOTA has increased parents’ relationships with the school by creating trust and involvement in their child’s education.
MOTA has demonstrated good practices, as we have seen it has influenced a strong sense of vocation that encourages teachers to plan and deliver thoughtful, engaging lessons. The awardees see themselves as role models for students, and their colleagues. Their motivation to support those who are struggling has also been increased. TFFT will continue to expand the positive impact of MOTA at a community level in the future.