Workshop 5: A time for reflection
As we hit the halfway mark on 2021, we at the Royal African Society wanted to take the time to reflect on our 5th and final workshop in the Poetry in the Primary Classroom Programme.
After six months of discussion around flexible learning, confidence and motivation, rhythm and poetry and the multiplicity of language, the time came for our teachers to look back on their learning. This was a particularly bittersweet ending that took place online. But it was also meaningful, impactful, and as always expertly led by our partners and primary literacy experts at the Centre for Literacy and Primary Education.
Teachers were asked to reflect on three main areas:
- A reflection on representative literature – what they’ve learnt from the course about the many forms that African and diaspora poetry can take, and how they’ve taken it forward into their teaching.
- A reflection on poetry and the transformative actions that teachers took from the artform as a whole.
- A reflection on their teaching practice and how the course has evolved their thinking.
The discussion during this final farewell workshop was one of honesty, profound personal and professional reflection, and laughter. Many of the teachers also reflected upon the wider literacy curriculum of their respective schools, and how they planned to incorporate more African and diaspora literature into their teaching and class libraries.
Examples were shared of ways in which the course has already begun to impact their pupils. One teacher ran an ‘open mic’ session in class so pupils could share their poems. Another utilised techniques they’d been taught of pinning poems up around the classroom, revealing a new level of engagement in the literature from pupils that they hadn’t seen before.
There was so much more that came out of the workshops that we will reveal in our evaluation report. For now we’ll say a big thank you to all the schools who took part, and to the three wonderful poets (pictured) who ran incredible three workshops – Ruth Awolola, Karl Nova and Amina Jama.
And finally, we say goodbye to this Poetry in the Primary Classroom blog with the help of a poem:
Way back in the heart of Africa,
They took our drums away,
But rhythm proved its own power
By being here today.”
- Excerpt from ‘Everything is Rhythmical’ by Lemn Sissay from Gold from the Stone (Canongate, 2016)
RAS Education Programme Manager
6 July 2021
Image description: Video stills of Amina Jama (left), Ruth Awolola (right) & Karl Nova (below)