Ça fait du bien!

Today’s blog title can be translated as “it feels good,” or “it does good.” It’s what the girls started saying every time we breathed deeply, à la InterPlay, because breathing deeply does FEEL good, and breathing also DOES good for the body, the mind, and the soul. Once it became something we were saying every time we breathed deeply, I started hearing the girls say it to each other, of their own accord. Yesterday Olivier suggested that “Ça fait du bien” should perhaps be the title of our tutoring program. After all, the program does good—collectively and individually— and it feels good, too—to the girls, to us, and I hope to those of you who are reading about it.

The photo above is of our wonderfully skilled, talented, and warm-hearted coordinator Lydie… and me, of course. I am so grateful for her!

Yesterday was the last day of our two-week training program. The morning went really well, and I was filled with gratitude and energy and a sense of deep connection with the entire group— the seventeen girls, the four teachers, and of course Jacqueline and Olivier. As I think back over the ten days we spent together—five of those days with the students—I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish:

As a group of adults:

  1. We created community and trust among the seven adults using InterPlay forms—starting with the first day and then in smaller increments on the following days. We also fostered a sense of community using the very simple formula of sitting in a circle each morning and greeting each other by asking Comment ça va? (how are you?) and Quoi de neuf? (what’s new?).
  2. We learned about/investigated our own learning profiles using the All Kinds of Minds learning framework.
  3. We took the understanding of the learning framework and brought it to bear on our understanding of students. Based on observations of student behavior, what might the students’ strengths be? Where could their weaknesses lie? And do we know the students well enough to know what their affinities are?
  4. Learned about and practiced the Literature circle.
  5. Learned about and practiced the Math circle.

Together with the students:

  1. Welcomed the students and played together using InterPlay forms in order to create a real sense of community and connection. We also put into place the same practice of sitting in a circle and greeting each other with Comment ça va? and Quoi de neuf?
  2. Taught/investigated the All Kinds of Minds constructs.
  3. Each student used the constructs to get a strength of her own strengths and her own learning profile.
  4. Taught and experienced the Literature circle.
  5. Taught and experienced the roles of the Math circle.
  6. Provided books and gave time for free voluntary reading.
  7. Did journaling – ten minutes per day – with understanding that students would not be judged on what they wrote, and that they could write full sentences, take notes, draw, or in any other way express their thoughts on paper.
  8. Did the “Special Person” in English.
  9. Gave appreciations and thank-yous around a closing circle.
  10. Ate, drank, and DANCED together.

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, our entire program was based on the concept of circles: Circle of Community, Circle of Learning, and Circle of Tutoring. At the end, when we began to dance together in the party after the end of our official time together, we realized there was a final Circle we had neglected to name in advance: the Circle of Dance. I was particularly thrilled to see the girls invite the teachers in to dance with them as well. Such fun! And so different from the way teachers and students usually interact in the current system of education here in Cameroon.

Ça a vraiment fait du bien!

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