Transforming a school one step at a time….

Blog 3 CTL Academy

For the last year and a half I have been in conversation with Dr. Agodi Alagbe about her school in Abuja, Nigeria.  She shared that her school serves pre-school- 12th grade and has about 100 students total.  Her ultimate goals are to prepare her students to be ready for university any where in the world and transferable skills to be successful beyond.

CTL School Mission

The Mission of CTL Academy is to create an inclusive environment that meets the needs of diverse learners; to harness the advances in science, technology, and the arts; to prepare students to be critical and creative thinkers, and problem solvers.

CTL Beliefs 

CTL Believes that:

●      Each child is a gift, and each child’s enrollment is an invaluable trust.

●      Each member of our school community (from the Head of School to the cleaner) is a role model.

●      Parents are critical partners in the development and success of each child.

●      Character counts! Everywhere, all the time; we adopt the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship

CTL Profile of Graduates

  CTL graduates are:

–       passionate scholars

–       global citizens

–       servant leaders

–       agents of positive change in their communities.

CTL graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in college/ university and beyond.

Dr. Agodi shared that she has a very caring and devoted staff that sometimes struggles with thinking about their teaching practice differently.  She knows that there are many different models for schooling; and accepts that what many schools do in the US with regards to discreet classes by grade level and subject did not have to persist in order to achieve the goals.  Plus with a staff as small as it is (given the student population) it would be exhausting to expect for them to plan lessons for six or seven subjects to be taught to a small handful of students.  

With these parameters and license to re-design I started to work with the high school team last year via weekly virtual professional development sessions on Fridays.  Every Friday we met and discussed, planned, executed and reviewed interdisciplinary project based learning.  They were able to work with their students to generate two different projects with one connecting to an international competition.  The team felt success and their guard was coming down.

We also tweaked their bell schedule and added dedicated time for daily 15 minute fitness, mindfulness after lunch and daily closing activities around the theme of gratitude.  By building in these practices into the daily schedule it is difficult to ignore them and in time students would hold the teachers accountable to making sure these specific times were secure and practiced.

Meanwhile the history teacher had a big win with respects to 75% of her students passing the AP World History exam this June with a score of 3 or 4.  This success boosted her confidence beginning this year.  

For this summer we agreed that I would come and spend three weeks with the school.  One week with just the teachers for professional development and two weeks for the start of the school year.  The professional development was for the whole staff and we focused on launching the mindset that includes project based, interdisciplinary/ multiage teaching by providing teachers with the experience doing it and then planning for it.  The guiding question was:  How does it feel to participate in a PBL project?  What impact does this experience have on you as a learner? A teacher? A community member?

Within the training teachers were exposed to Design Thinking, PBL planning, designing and sharing a pitch mixed with lots of other strategies.  The goal was to have the teachers experience PBL and doing the exercises using meaningful tasks and objectives.  

When we learned that the start of school was going to have to shift from the ‘normal’ in person to something different I too had to pivot the professional development plans.  Instead of the teachers experiencing a PBL task related to improving the community I asked them to pitch (i.e. Shark Tank) their ideas for how to redesign the school learning into hubs based on geography and not grade level.  Teachers worked together on mixed level teams to create their pitch to share with each other.  For fun I offered a prize to the team with the best idea.  Here is the link to the working plan.

We also adopted the management model called: VUCA. This model allowed the staff to conceptualize what needs to occur in order for the school to ‘steer forward’ with success. VUCA stands for:

Image comes from: Mindtools

After the first week of school in the hubs we returned to the entire school coming to the school site- starting week 2 of school in the ‘normal’ setting. We did bring a few elements from the hubs to the school starting with the first assembly outside. In this space Dr. Agodi invited each hub to come forward and perform their BUGA/ VUCA dance and introduced the theme of VUCA. Kids had a blast performing for one another as did the teachers.

Laster in the week we altered the schedule to bring closure to the PBL project on safety. This too was fascinating and my previous blog describes the experience in full.

My three weeks in Abuja went quickly and I loved every moment. CTL is a magical place that gives students and staff a sense of family and community with everyone looking out for one another. Though the security threats are high and Dr. Agodi is always having to improve security measures due to the uncertain times in Nigeria the school keeps going at full momentum. With middle and high school students each having a chromebook and taechers well versed in posting their assignments on Google classroom they don’t miss a beat. Without hesitation I would enroll my own daughter in this school.

Personally I feel very privileged and honored to have been taken in by the CTL family and can’t wait for their next chapter as we continue to improve their offer. It is our collective hope that CTL Academy grows a teaching and learning hub to promote excellence in education for Africa. We are also working on expanding CTL Academy into the online/hybrid space. Check out: this description and sign up to stay informed. One day I vision a CTL Academy Clubhouse available to every community.

Until our next online training… and then a return visit I will continue to work on this next chapter…

Published by marasimmons

A passionate educator turned world traveler embarking on a nomadic lifestyle with my family. Learning to appreciate a life where we have the privilege of choosing our destiny and embracing it.

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