Last month, the Transforming Teacher Education activity welcomed two lecturers from the University of Zambia to Florida State University. Agnes Chileshe Chibamba and Sitwe Benson Mkandawire, chosen for their strong research and teaching skills, will spend six months in the sunshine state. During their time, the lecturers will audit primary grade education and research courses, observe literacy instruction in primary schools, attend conferences, and develop research projects.
What made you interested in the residency program?
- “I am a teacher trainer, and my area of interest is teacher education and literacy and language. To me, every program that focuses on strengthening the capacity of pre-service teacher training institutions to improve student learning outcomes attracts my attention. TTE just did that. When I saw the advert for residency, I got excited and applied because I saw this as an opportunity for me to learn and expand my knowledge and skills in my area of study, that will later benefit my students academically.” – Chibamba
- “When I first saw a call for the residency program, I knew that in some way, this program was directed to me as a teacher educator and academic for literacy in early grade classes in Zambia. So, I just had to apply right away with a hope that I would learn more to expand my knowledge and skills in reading and teacher education as well as network and collaborate with scholars in the field.” – Mkandawire
What are you most looking forward to learning or experiencing while at FSU?
- “Whilst here, I am looking forward to learning more about current issues in teacher education in America. I also hope to explain my knowledge that will improve my pedagogical skills in early grade reading instruction. Above all, I am a Ph.D. student, and I am looking forward to learning more about research strategies and attending seminars and conferences in teacher education and literacy.” – Chibamba
- “I am looking forward to learning more about the teaching of reading at FSU, the preparation of teacher educators in reading while handling multilingual classes. I also hope to attend some academic events, carry out collaborative research and co-author publications, and visit some early grade classes in primary schools to learn more about the teaching of initial reading skills in the U.S.” – Mkandawire
Why do you think early grade literacy is an essential area of focus?
- “Early grade literacy is an important area of focus because it is the foundation of learning. Any delay in the development of literacy skills hinders children’s future academic achievement. Therefore, developing early literacy skills is essential as it makes children succeed in school and later in life.” – Chibamba
- “Literacy is one of the predictors of national development because a literate society is a developed community. Early grade literacy may provide a strong foundation for social, political, economic, and cultural criticism. Literacy may provide a country with a cadre of critics and heroes of a fair and just society.” – Mkandawire
Chibamba and Mkwandawire’s residencies are a vital component of the Transforming Teacher Education activity. TTE Zambia is a five-year, $15 million activity from USAID/Zambia in partnership with Florida State University, School-to-School International, and the UNZA School of Education. The project aims to improve the training of primary grade teachers in early grade literacy.