Connecting Classrooms – Meet Baidy Dia
Connecting Classrooms school leadership programme helped me move out of my comfort zone, take risks and go global” - Baidy Dia, School Leadership facilitator.
My name’s Baidy Dia and I am a teacher of English. I’ve been teaching for 19 years in a rather authoritarian school system.
I discovered Connecting Classrooms in November 2013 through a call for applications for School Leadership Facilitators. I successfully applied for and attended a certified ‘Train the Trainers’ workshop at British Council Senegal. The outcomes were tremendous, both personally and professionally.
At this point, a little information about the Senegalese school system might be useful. In Senegal, Head Teachers are appointed on the basis of seniority, regardless of management or leadership skills because there is no official training school for these skills in Senegal. Head teachers learn management skills ‘on the job’. As for leadership, it’s still a new concept to many. Many teachers also view their job as something that ends in the classroom, thus overlooking the importance of after-school activities and missing a good opportunity to promote student leadership.
As a teacher (and a deputy head teacher as well) I could see that things were not what they should be. So in October 2012 I convinced my head teacher at Maba Diakhou Ba Secondary School in Nioro (in the south of Senegal), to diagnose the school and see what could be done to make the school a more interesting and effective environment. At the end of the workshops, we produced a visionary document: ‘The type of school we want to build’. By the end of the school year we had already achieved an important shift, including many more student-based activities, more motivated students and recognition of the school in the local community.
However, as the coordinator of the project, I could see that teachers’ engagement in the projects was small and that the head teacher himself did not seem to know what his role was. This is when I did the “Connecting Classrooms Leadership Programme’ training and became a School Leadership Facilitator.
The programme helped me to see the strengths and weaknesses of our project. We reviewed it and were rewarded by the Ministry of Education who congratulated us and gave us an increased budget.
National School Leadership Training
The “National School Leadership Training” programme was organized by British Council Senegal for about 200 head teachers throughout the country, including my own head teacher. It was so successful that many schools have got in touch with us to help them try our project in their own schools.
Since April 2014 I have been giving leadership training, under the banner of the British Council, to other Senegalese organisations, the first in the Saloum region in the south of Senegal.
Having participated in the School leadership Programme my perception of education has changed and developed. I’ve always known that the community played a big role in the education system, but the British Council, helped me develop a simple opinion into a structured and purposeful raison d’être. I now work in a special needs school in Dakar and I am trying to apply the programme’s principles to my present situation.
It’s presenting a new challenge for me - but I’m prepared for it as I’ve learned to move out of my comfort zone, take risks and go global!