Social and Emotional Assessment

August 10, 2017

Towards the end of July, I conducted a social and emotional assessment of our scholars at Usa River Academy and Arusha Modern School. Social and emotional skills include a broad set of competencies that play a vital role in shaping students achievement, adult well-being, workplace readiness, and management of social interactions.

As an organization that seeks to create a bright future for developing nations, the significance of social and emotional skills assessment to our scholars cannot be emphasized enough. The results of this assessment are expected to point out any gaps in the emotional and social development of our scholars. In return, we find ways to integrate social and emotional learning in the various programs we conduct for scholars such as our monthly family cells, youth camp, and mentoring opportunities.

Of the many competencies rounded up in social and emotional skills, there are 15 different skills linked to academic and future adult success. A few of them are: self-control, responsibility, attentiveness, pro-social behavior, and mastery of orientation. Our selected research tool narrowed down these skills to effectively measure self-control, persistence, mastery of orientation, and academic self-efficacy. Our focus is to encourage the development and enrichment each of these skills. For example, building persistence in a child can be done through teaching stress coping mechanisms and how to deal with failure or setbacks; this will eventually strengthen a child’s resilience.

I had a brief meeting with class teachers to present a survey they could answer to further assist students. The teachers were glad to have such a platform to use as a tool to better manage students. Using these kind of surveys, we can measure the extent to which a child can stay focused on a task, how patient they are, how long can they delay gratification, how much they are interested in learning and completing their school work with no supervision, and more of the like.

In addition to questions on the teacher survey, the teachers also recorded both positive and negative behaviors exhibited by our scholars, so that we can encourage and enhance the positive ones and deal with negative tendencies through counseling and putting behavioral intervention plans into action. The outcome of the assessment will tell us of how academically motivated a student is. Its impact on TFFT as an organization, then, is for us to advise our scholars to continue on a traditional higher education path for college after their scholarship ends, or opt for a vocational training college. We look forward to continue carrying out this assessment to others of our partner schools in order to strengthen positive traits in our scholars.

Posted in Psychosocial + Health, Scholarship Program, Tanzania, Teacher Training, TFFT Student Work, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Full Circle Inter-School Competition

August 7, 2017

This year, our Full Circle Program focused on conducting an inter-school competition at the secondary school level in Arusha. Last year, TFFT’s inter-school competition was conducted in Meru District with primary school students only. The approach this year was to involve government secondary schools.

This competition was for mathematics, science and essay writing with the following objectives:

  1. Stimulate enthusiasm and love for Mathematics and Science
  2. Provide students with an engaging and challenging experience
  3. Motivate rigorous instruction in math and science, as well as writing skills
  4. Encourage teachers to teach for mastery of topics as well as practical applications of mathematic and scientific concepts in their classes
  5. Develop among students the joy and thrill of meeting challenges as well as build their confidence in handling pressure
  6. Provide feedback to schools and teachers on mastery of topics and gaps in understanding of concepts by students

This competition was opened to students from Form 1 through Form 4, located in Arusha City. 150 students from 25 schools participated. Each participating school was to send 1 contestant for essay writing in English, 1 contestant for essay writing in Kiswahili, and 4 students who would make up a team to compete for the Science and Math’s competition. Girls were highly encouraged to participate.

There were two rounds of competition for the math and science contest. The first round was an elimination round where participants took a written test. The test was scored, and the top 10 students were selected to seat for the second round and final round of the competition. For many students, this was the first time they had the opportunity to participate in a competition with so many peers from other schools. After first round, I asked many of the participants what they thought their chance of winning the competition was. They said they were not sure, as they thought they might be the best in their own school but they didn’t know how they would compare to students from other schools.

The winners from each of the 3 contests have been selected and are awaiting their awards. A girl won the science competition, three boys won the math competition, and four girls won for the English and Kiswahili essay writing competition. The awards ceremony will take place at the schools of each of the winners, where we will announce the winner and present their prize in front of the student body with the goal of motivating the teachers and students alike. Handing out the awards will take place in the third week of August. Prizes and certificates of recognition would be awarded to the winners, their teacher-coaches, and schools, and I will share about it in my next blog. I also plan to interview some of the winners to share what they think about the inter-school competition and awarding! Stay tuned.

Posted in Events, Tanzania, TFFT Student Work, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Training Needs Analysis in Heaven Primary School

August 1, 2017

Throughout last month, I carried out a training needs analysis at Heaven Primary School in Arusha City. Heaven is a private English school that currently serves children in nursery class through grade four. The school is operated by Sister Crispina Mnate and the St. Joseph’s orphanage in Kiserian village outside Arusha. The school consulted The Foundation For Tomorrow to provide teachers with professional development training as part of a school improvement program. Thus, the teacher training program decided to conduct a training needs assessment to prepare for a training tailored for the school. The assessment aimed to systematically identify and prioritize needs for an in-service teachers training program for Heaven Primary School, and to provide baseline information for monitoring skill development during the evolution of TFFT & Heaven Primary School’s work together.

The training needs analysis was triangulated from various sources of information, including classroom observations, focused group discussion with the school management team, and a survey of needs from the teachers. This helped us to understand and identify needs needs for the training to take place.

Observations were conducted in nine classrooms, where each teacher was observed during a 40 minute lesson. The purpose of the classroom observations was to 1) gauge the strengths of the teachers and pinpoint areas that they need improvement and help on, 2) identify a variety of teaching methods that are presently used by teachers in the school, and 3) establish baseline data which will be used as a benchmark in the evaluation of the impact and influence of TFFT’s teacher training program towards teaching practices.

TFFT’s classroom observation considers six elements of teaching practices: planning for effective instruction, learning organization, classroom management, knowledge of the subject matter and teaching style, instructional techniques, and encouragement to engage in critical thinking.

TFFT’s training needs assessment surveys were completed by the teachers so that we could figure out specific needs of the teachers apart from what was gathered from our classroom observations. The focused group discussion with the school leaders consisted of a structured conversation which allowed people to express their point of views to the group. The school manager, head teacher, deputy head teacher, and academic head participated in the discussion to provide the information for the needs of the teachers’ professional development. The ultimate goal of this training needs analysis was to aid our preparation for a tailored training for the school.

Thank you!

Noah Kayanda.

Posted in Tanzania, Teacher Training, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

Farewell, Pamela!

July 24, 2017

This is the time of year in the Tanzanian school calendar for students to go back to school, so TFFT staff are running around making sure all of our scholars have transport back to their respective schools, delivering books and basic supplies, following up on medical checkups, and making sure everything is in place for the upcoming semester. Our Family Cell Heads will make sure the scholars all settle well in their new environment. Peer Mentors have been primed to keep an eye out for scholars in need of support, and meet regularly for peer mentoring sessions. The school cycle propels the work of TFFT. For myself, my term at TFFT is coming to a close. I have worked along with the good people of TFFT for 18 months.

I have learned so much throughout my time at TFFT; how the Tanzanian educational system works, how to best negotiate with school authorities where I implement programs and work with scholars, a new database, and which livelihood activity will bring the best benefit to a particular home. Overall, I have learned many skills, but the most important lessons have been of a more personal nature, such as how to respond and how to communicate in a Tanzanian context. My co-workers have been great role models and in some cases great mentors for me.

The greatest lesson I learned from all my co-workers is how to be calm in all different types of situations. I have worked most closely with Stephen, who was TFFT’s Scholarship and Mentoring Program Manager, and I consider him my friend and mentor. We had a reciprocal relationship, and often bounced ideas off each other. He is a passionate person and I learned a lot from him about how to interact with Tanzanian people, especially young people. He exudes warmth.

Hedwiga has been a great role model for me. Sometimes I think to myself “How would Hedwiga react?” when I am faced with a difficult situation. She is always so calm and maintains a good balance between concern and detachment. This is a very good trait when dealing with the life issues that can develop with over 110 scholars, many of them now teenagers. She is like a mother who cannot be fazed.

I also learned so much about a particular management style from Melissa, our Country Director. It is a complex job, and she manages to maintain her jolliness and infinite patience in the face of so many challenges. I hope to incorporate such a style in my work, because I can see how effective it is.

I have also been impressed by the interpersonal skills of our American colleagues who are so bright and energetic when they come to the Tanzanian office. They are so expressive, articulate, and they share such inspiring stories about TFFT’s work in Tanzania. They are impressive communicators and I have learned much from them.

In the end, it is always about people for me, and I have loved working with all my colleagues including Noah, Kaka Deo, Hilda, Robin, Daniel Stephen, Viola, Daniel Lymo, Yunia, and Abishai. My favorite job at TFFT has been working with our Peer Mentors in my Family Cell and my hope for TFFT in the future is that these young people can grow to be influencers for us all.

I am very happy to announce that I have further work with Australian Volunteers International in Tanzania in Moshi. I will be working with the Alumni of Africaid’s Kisa Program, which is a young women’s empowerment program. Much of what I have learned at TFFT will give me a great head start in this new position, and I am truly most grateful.

Posted in Scholarship Program, Tanzania | Comments closed

Let’s Go Ride a Bike

July 19, 2017

Interested in traveling to Tanzania? Seeing the landscape of TFFT’s work firsthand? Staying fit and working towards a massively exciting goal?! Drumroll, please…we have some special news for you…

Registration for RIDETZ 2018 is officially open!!

June 22 – July 5, 2018

You can sign up on our brand new Team TFFT webpage. RIDETZ is the can’t-miss adventure of a lifetime. Throughout 10 exhilarating days and spanning 400 miles, you will bike from Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean with a group of 20 riders to raise awareness for quality education.

RIDETZ gives you the unique opportunity to learn more about TFFT’s work and see this work in action…

Meet the TFFT Scholars…

Learn more about the positive impact that you make in the lives of vulnerable children in Tanzania…

See the beauty that Tanzania has to offer…

And raise awareness about the importance of investment in quality education.

If you are motivated, passionate, enthusiastic, committed to a great cause, and want to conquer a rewarding challenge, you are the perfect candidate for RIDETZ! Save the dates: June 22nd – July 5th, 2018. We want YOU to join us!! These bike seats go fast…what are you waiting for?! Learn more about the trip on the Team TFFT webpage and register now.

As always, we would like to give a shout out and huge thanks to the wonderful Nate Kaiser and Tyler Wohlford for our photos and videos.

Posted in Events, RIDETZ, Tanzania | Comments closed

EMDR Training

July 18, 2017

Earlier this month, I traveled to Dar es Salaam to attend an EMDR Training organized by the Muhimbili Department of Psychiarty and facilitated by the European EMDR and Norwegian psychologists. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a psychotherapy treatment that addresses traumas, anxiety, panic attacks, disturbing memories, post-traumatic stress disorders, and other emotional problems. Participants at the training included psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists from Dodoma, Arusha, Tanga (Lushoto), and Dar es Salaam.

EMDR has great results dealing with any negative lasting effects from a previous trauma or stress. It works by releasing the emotional ties to a past experience that may have occurred at an early age, memories of traumatic death of loved ones, feelings of abandonment, etc. The main objective of EMDR is to allow people to face their past with significantly less or no fear, and to change people’s narratives about these past experiences.

This core part of EMDR really made me think. All of the TFFT Scholars come from a very vulnerable environment, some from an orphanage. These are difficult environments both physically and psychologically. All of the scholars have lived through extreme poverty, and many have had traumatic experiences. This history haunts some of them, and although the scholars might not realize the ways this affects them, the consequences are projected through their behavior, life skills, and performance socially and academically.

I found it absolutely astonishing to learn how previous experiences affect our daily lives and the ways that the mind subliminally connects past issues to the present. Eventually these results are portrayed in our present behaviors! One example I found interesting was when an instructor at the training shared how “pathological jealousy” became apparent as a result of his parents’ death at an early age. It was great to learn that not only does EMDR focus on years past, but also on recent situations. EMDR is also a good therapy method for dealing with issues in relationships, fears, and phobias.

Amongst our scholars, there are some who have gone though painful situations at very early ages. TFFT helps to provide them with the necessary counseling, and this EMDR therapy will indeed help them face their past with courage and move ahead with a better outlook. I look forward to helping them achieve positive remembrance.

Posted in Psychosocial + Health, Scholarship Program, Tanzania | Comments closed

Introducing Sarah!

July 14, 2017

Hello! It is with great excitement that we introduce Sarah Weishaar, TFFT’s new Director of Development and Strategic Partnership! Sarah’s passion for education, extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations, and knowledge of philanthropy make her the perfect fit for the role. Our entire team is eager to work with and learn from Sarah. The Director of Development and Strategic Partnership is critical to TFFT’s growth and success. We hope you’ll take a moment to read below to see how lucky TFFT is to have Sarah on our team. Please join us in welcoming Sarah to The Foundation For Tomorrow!

Hello everyone! My name is Sarah Weishaar and I am honored to be joining the TFFT family, focused on Development and Strategic Partnerships. I live with my husband, twin 3½ year old little girls and a 6 month old baby girl in Kalamazoo, Michigan, just a few hours east of Kaitlin and Caiti in Chicago. I have worked with many nonprofit organizations throughout my career, focused on generating support for them and building strategy and relationships to further their missions. I am driven by working with others to help make this world a better place – and could not be more excited to join the TFFT family to help do this in such a powerful way. Outside of work, my family is my pride and joy. There is never a dull moment in our house with the three young girls as they grow quickly and are an endless source of energy, excitement, and amazement. I love spending time outside (especially by the water or in the sun), exercising, cooking, reading, and listening to music.

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and was very fortunate to receive a scholarship that enabled me to attend the University of Michigan. I studied science and medicine, exploring medicine as an opportunity to fulfill my desire to help people. I also loved learning about different cultures so I pursued a degree in Spanish culture and language as well. I ultimately decided that direct patient care was not how I wanted to focus my career, but instead wanted to try to help people in a different way – by attracting support to organizations who are committed to helping make people’s lives better and more well-supported in a holistic way. I have had the privilege of working in many large organizations ever since, including cultural institutions, hospitals, and schools doing just that.

While working at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, I had the opportunity to complete my Master’s Degree in Philanthropic Studies through the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. I was truly inspired delving into the study of how powerful passionate people can be when they put their mind and resources toward making a difference in the world – and how you can truly make the most of channeling this energy in the right ways. As the producers of The Chronicle on Philanthropy and other world-renowned philanthropic research, I learned so much about how to approach challenges in the world and how nonprofit organizations can truly make the world a better place.

When my girls were born, I knew I had to find an organization that spoke to my heart and where I could apply my knowledge and learning in a way that would make an undeniable difference in others’ lives. I not only wanted this for myself, but also to expose my children to an understanding of life beyond our own and to an appreciation for helping others.

TFFT is the opportunity of a lifetime for me to apply my experience working with families, children, foundations, and individuals in such a focused way to help people in need. Every person that I meet and every new program I learn about affirms my understanding of this as one of the most inspiring organizations I’ve ever known.

I have seen personally the power of education to make a difference in someone’s life – it certainly did for mine. I have seen how a supportive and healthy home environment is key to a child’s development (regardless of where they live in this world) and how the challenges of this world can oftentimes make providing this extremely difficult. I can’t imagine overcoming the obstacles that so many of the TFFT scholars have so gracefully overcome and yet I am humbled by the common threads that unite us all as humans.

I am given hope by the success you have shown is possible when caring and passionate individuals come together and I am blown away by the generosity and commitment all of you have to allow this organization to thrive. I am so excited for all that lies ahead in helping even more vulnerable citizens through access to quality education.

Thank you for all of the work you do to make such a powerful difference and for welcoming me in such a warm way into the TFFT family. Please know how excited I am to get to know all of you better and understand how I can support all of the incredible work you are doing.

 

Posted in Development, Introductions | Comments closed

Building Creative Capacity

July 11, 2017

During the June school holiday, eight scholars from our Peer Mentoring Program had the opportunity to join an Innovation Capacity Building Workshop to get their young minds thinking in a new way, and their hands working with new materials. The participants went to a five-day technical workshop with a local Arushian NGO called Twende, which means ‘let’s go’ in Kiswahili. They built prototypes of particular tools that could help them solve various problems in daily life. The scholars thought of an original idea and the Twende facilitators gave them step-by-step instructions to bring their ideas to life using recycled materials.

The feedback from the instructors at Twende was encouraging to hear. They said our scholars showed a lot of curiosity, cooperation, hard work, and respect for the teachers. They all came on time and there was 100% participation. This shows that they were very engaged with the activity.

On the final day of the workshop, the scholars presented their work to the larger group and interested parties who had gathered to see their progress. One TFFT group designed a way of recycling unused soap. The other TFFT group designed a vegetable cutting machine that would shorten the time of food preparation. They proudly presented their original designs, their work flow diagrams, and a demonstration of their final products.

We hope that this hands-on creative workshop will help our scholars look at the world in a new way. Perhaps they will be more curious as to how things work! They will be more likely to feel that they can come up with new ways of solving old problems, have greater confidence in working with their hands, and appreciating how much fun it can be to be innovative.

Posted in Scholarship Program, Tanzania, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

Math & Science Project for TFFT Scholars

July 6, 2017

Last month, I worked on coordinating a math and science project, targeted to help some of our scholars who need extra attention in these subjects. The project is set to provide academic assistance to secondary students who need more time and focused learning in math, chemistry, physics, and biology. We hope that the scholars will gain a deeper level of understanding and confidence in these subjects. There are 22 TFFT Scholars involved in this tutorial support project to increase academic achievement.

The process of organizing, preparing, and giving the tutorials is exciting to the team, the teachers involved, and the scholars themselves. In preparation for the tutorials, the main objectives of the project and expectations from students were made clear. We used the progress report cards and listened to the students’ needs to help in the development of the program as a whole.

For the past three weeks, the scholars have been working with tutors in a classroom setting. They have engaged in different tasks, both one on one and in small groups led by the teachers. This has provided students with the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the subject matter and then to practice skills gained. Moreover, each week, we get feedback from the students about the teaching and learning. They share their opinions about the content, types of tasks, their needs, and expectations. This gives us a better understanding of what kind of support to provide and how to provide it to those who are in need.

The scholars are excited about this opportunity. Most of them believe that attending the tutorials will help them to perform better academically. The extra help and support we provide will ensure that all of our scholars meet their academic goals. We are committed to developing and providing the extra help and support that our scholars need in order to reach their academic success.

Cheers,

Noah Kayanda.

Posted in Tanzania, Teacher Training, TFFT Student Work, TFFT's Partners | Comments closed

A Glimpse into TFFT’s Peer Mentoring Program

July 3, 2017

At the beginning of this year, 17 of our scholars participated in a special training about emotional intelligence, simple counseling, and mentoring. This group of Peer Mentors was sensitized on identifying other students under stress, and how best to support those students. They were also paired with new TFFT Scholars to help them adjust to a new community as they began at our partner schools.

During a recent gathering to review the Peer Mentoring program, 14 of our mentors talked about topics such as stress management, bullying at school, and the challenges and rewards of mentoring. They had practical experience in relaxation techniques such as visualization, present moment awareness, and muscle relaxation meditation. Though a new concept for our scholars, all partook in the exercises and could see how it could be used in times of stress as a way of calming the mind.

Another part of the review process included a time for each Peer Mentor to share their experiences over the past six months. Here are some of their responses:

“I like being a mentor because in the past, I have been mentored, so I like to share the knowledge that I received from the people who mentored me. I also like it because I would like to become a psychologist and by nature. When I see someone who is feeling down, I like to help them through it” – Monica, Star High School.

“I like showing someone the way. One of my friends at Usa River Academy was stubborn. I showed him the way to be a better person, to behave, and to express himself” – Athumani, Usa River Academy.

“I love my responsibility as a mentor because this job helps me to be a person who is accepted by the whole world. I am also proud of myself because I can change the world to make it a better place by helping those in need. I have helped to solve my peers’ problems, and I would love to continue this” – Janeth, Star High School.

“As a mentor, I was able to help shift things from negative to positive for my friends. For example, at school, I brought together a group of five members to create a study group. This group helped each other to make academic progress in school and succeeded at improving our study habits and grades. This led me to focus on my ambition, and I believe I make a good mentor” – Joyce, Star High School.

“I helped TFFT Scholars who had just moved up to Form 1. I helped them by showing them around at school and introducing them to peers in Form 1. I have also helped them with their studies. I have had several meetings with the new scholars so that they can support each other in difficult times and in happy moments” – Ndera, Star High School.

All our current mentors are excited to continue the added responsibilities of being a Peer Mentor, and have already signed up again for the 2018 school year. With the skills, compassion, and awareness that they have learned, our mentors will continue to have a positive impact on their school environments.

Posted in Scholarship Program, Tanzania, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed
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