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Staff Development 2017

As an annual programme, this year’s Staff Retreat and Development programme was the 12th Anniversary and was held at Anita Hotel, Ejisu in the Ashanti Region from 10th September to 14th September, 2017. This programme presents to staff members—teaching and non-teaching (Heads of Departments)—the right platform to renew their relationship with God, fellowship together, develop their professional skills and strategize for the academic year ahead. Hence, this year’s programme was organized with the theme: “You Cannot Give What You Do Not Have”.
Having departed from Cape Coast at 12:30pm on Sunday, 10th September, 2017, Staff members arrived at Anita Hotel at around 5:30pm.

Just after checking-in, supper was ready for members. Members then settled for supper at around 6:00pm. A prayer session followed at 7:00pm and members were given notices as regards the programme.
The main daily activities were preceded by devotion which was led by Apostle Jude Hama. On the first day, Monday, 11th September, 2017, Apostle Jude Hama started the devotion with the topic; “You Cannot Give What You Do Not Have”. He referenced his teachings from 2 Corinthians 5:9-21. He made members to understand that we have a task to perform as ‘Ambassadors’—representing the kingdom of Christ on earth and in our respective areas. He highlighted three important questions—which can be classified as the 3Ms—that each should be aware of. These questions include; What should be your Motivation? (The love of Christ;; vrs. 14-15), What should be your Mission? (Ministry of Reconciliation; vrs. 18) and What is your Message? (Come back to Christ; vrs. 20-21). Apostle Jude Hama posited that as staff of Wesley Girls’ High School, we should accept our role as Christ Ambassadors, instruct for faith and model exemplary life in the community we live in. The devotion was then followed with a prayer time.
After the prayer time, members were grouped for Bible Studies. The Bible Study time was from 12:00noon to 1:00pm. The theme for the study was: “How to Lead the New Life in Christ”. The bible passage for the study was taken from Ephesians 4:17-32 and the key verse was 2 Corinthians 5:17. The study was meant to explore how to live the new life in Christ. It was established that any life totally given to Jesus is regenerated but unfortunately many Christians who claim to be born again are still hanging on to their old lives. The various groups were to discuss ways to live the new life in Christ—not walking in the futility of the mind, not grieving the Holy Spirit, and learning to forgive one another. Conclusively, the study taught us that the new life in Christ Jesus is a life wholly dedicated, and set apart unto God. Therefore, one is supposed to live an upright life by seeking for the help of the Holy Spirit to stay unstained from sin, and live in Holiness unto God.
Lunch was at 1:00pm and members returned at 4:00pm for intercessory prayers. Supper followed at 5:00pm and members settled for Departmental meeting at 7:00pm. During the Departmental Meeting, Departments were to evaluate the WASSCE results and look for strategies to maintain or improve upon their performances. Not only mapping strategies for improvement, but also setting individual and departmental targets for the 2017/2018 academic year in relation to the 5-year strategic plan of the school. The meetings formally closed at 9:20pm and members left for bedtime.
Tuesday, 12th September. 2017, which was the day for the official opening, commenced with a devotion referenced from 2 Peter 1:3-11 and with the topic: “Cultivate Godly Virtues and Pursue Moral Excellence” at 9:00am. Apostle Jude Hama once again led staff members through the scriptures and brought out what God requires of us personally in the Wesley Girls’ Community which we find ourselves in. He mentioned that God requires of us to hold on firmly to Christ’s awesome provisions and promises (vrs. 3&4), cultivate Christ-like virtues (vrs. 5-7) and look forward to Christ’s approval, endorsement and welcome (vrs. 8-11). The devotion then ended at 9:50am.
The main programme for the day—official opening—started at 10:25am with an opening prayer by Rev. Franklyn Aidoo. Mr. Stephen Amoh and Miss Anna Koranteng were the Moderators for the programme. Fraternal messages were given by distinguished guests who graced the occasion with their presence—past and new P.T.A. Chairpersons, P.T.A. Executive Member and Director of Methodist Schools, Ghana who coupled as the Chairperson for the programme. The Headmistress, Mrs. Betty Djokoto, gave her speech. The keynote address was then delivered by the special guest, Professor Ato Essuman on the topic; “The Role of the New Teacher in the 21st Century”. Professor Essuman, in his presentation, took us through who the teacher and his work was in the past. He mentioned that in the past, teachers’ influence transcended community work, they took their work seriously, they were aware of the community’s expectations, they were disciplined, they saw their role as a shared one with parents and personal educational development was a priority to them. He posited that teaching in this 21st century is built on the core competencies of critical thinking and problem solving. He maintained that in order for students to develop and survive in this age of ours, education should be woven around the digital gadgets and social media, students must be taught to engage themselves in deep or critical thinking, there should be an improvement in the quality and quantity of instructions, the learning environment should provide support to students and introducing strategic curriculum. On the role of the new teacher in the 21st century, he highlighted four new learning and teaching methodologies which were;
1. Teachers should be committed to students and their learning.
2. Teachers should know the subject they teach and how to teach the subject to students.
3. Managing and monitoring students’ learning.
4. Systematic thinking; try new ways you have not tried before.
Teachers were then given the opportunity to ask questions after the presentation and Professor Essuman responded to the questions appropriately. At 1:00pm, the official opening had ended and members left for lunch.
Staff members returned at 4:00pm to discuss the keynote address. This discussion was done in groups. At 5:30pm, the discussion was closed for members to go for supper. The evening programme which was on the new marking policy started at 7:20pm and was led by Mr. Alex Odoom and Mrs. Betty Djokoto. The presentation on the new marking policy centered on; Why Mark, How to do Meaningful Marking, What is Feedback, Types of Feedback, Characteristics of Good Feedback, How to Feedback, Getting Students to Respond to Feedback, and How to Manage Marking Load.
During the presentation, members were introduced to the 3Ms of marking which are; Meaningful, Motivating and Manageable. It was established that every marking should fulfil these 3Ms. Members were again asked to focus on Presentation, Literacy and Assessment when marking. On Presentation, the abbreviation THUNDS was used to represent, Time, Handwriting, Underlining, Numbering, Date and Spacing. It was mentioned that during marking, every teacher should look out for these things in the respective subject areas to ensure correct presentation of students’ works. On Literacy, members were notified that apart from the teachers of English, who correct every error seen in a student’s essay, all other subject teachers should make it a point to correct maximum of three (3) spelling errors and correct two (2) other literacy errors (punctuations, paragraphing etc). Lastly, on the assessment focus, it was mentioned that teachers should consider the objectives of the questions they are setting (what they would want to mark), set clear guidelines on success criteria to avoid students completing task incorrectly and create a check list of what they are looking for in order to tick them when seen.
Feedback was another important element of the presentation. There were varying explanations given to what feedback is. But more importantly, in the classroom setting, it was established that feedback is information about the result of a given exercise in the past which will influence the occurrence of the same work given in the present or future. It closes the gap between where the learner is and where they ought to be. One thing noted to be a key point to the marking of students’ works is for the teacher to use information gained about the learner to help shape teaching of the area being assessed. Members were then taken through the characteristics of a good feedback and how to give feedback. Noteworthy elements identified as regards how to give feedback are stars and a wish. Stars are meant to praise and serve as a form of encouragement to reinforce what the student has done well. The wish, on the other hand, is the suggestion the teacher gives for the correct answer which can be in a form of a question. Members were given new ideas on how to manage marking load and getting students to respond to feedback. The presentation ended at 9:10pm and members left for bedtime.
On Wednesday, 13th September, 2017, Apostle Jude Hama at 7:30am, shared with us; “Praying through for a Breakthrough (Praying God’s Word)”. He based his teachings on Ephesians 6:10-13, 18. In his teachings, he mentioned five important points to consider in order to pray through for a breakthrough. They included; you are engaged in a spiritual warfare, you are at risk (John 10:10), there is a help line for you from Christ, you can pray through for a breakthrough and in union with Christ, you are more than a conqueror. Other scriptural references cited were; John 8:36 and Psalm 124, 103:1-5 and 91. The devotion ended at 8:10 and members left for breakfast.
At 9:45am, the Institute of Teacher Education and Development (INTED) had begun the workshop on “Critical Thinking (Framework for Learning)”. Members were grouped into Departments and series of activities went on. The first form of activity which took place was the building of a tower with bottles, disposable cups, paper tapes and sticks. The interdisciplinary department was adjudged first because they had the tallest and strongest tower. Members were then asked to share their challenges during the building of the tower. Notable amongst them was; not planning before setting out to build.
Following, teaching strategies were introduced to members to help enhance our skills as teachers. These strategies included; Quick Write, Concept Mapping, Wait Time 1 and 2, Effective Questioning, Levels of Questioning, Levels of Comprehension Guide, Numbered Heads, Meta-Cognition, Coding the Text and RAFT. Departments were asked to prepare lessons in their areas to be presented using the teaching strategies discussed. Just after the discussion on RAFT, another activity was presented on departmental basis on using RAFT in teaching. The Department of English was acknowledged for their accurate presentation on RAFT and the workshop ended at 2:40pm.
The last day which was Thursday, 14th September, 2017, began with a devotion on the topic: “You Will End Well”. With Psalm 1 and 84:11, Apostle Jude Hama admonished members of staff to hold on to the work of God as Ambassadors and we shall surely end well. After the end of the devotion, members were asked to check out and return for staff meeting.

Report by:
Mr. Jonathan Essuman
(Staff Secretary)