Teacher Stories: Irene Amiera - Palabek Refugee Settlement, Uganda
This story was collected as part of Teachers in Crisis Contexts (TiCC) Event Series to ensure that the voices and experiences of teachers working in crisis and displacement permeate all aspects of the event. For more stories, click here.
I have never had this kind of training before
Name: Irene Amiera
Age: 42 years old
Location: Palabek Refugee Settlement, Uganda
“I am 42 years old; I have a diploma from the teacher training college in Kitgum, and I have been a teacher for 21 years. I am teaching all subjects and I have taught all age groups of learners from age 6 years and up. Right now, I am teaching learners aged 11-18 years in the Accelerated Education Programme (AEP).
Since I joined the AEP, I have been participating in a lot of trainings such as psychosocial support, life skills, teenage pregnancies, Code of Conduct, and how to make teaching learning aids.
Now I am engaged in teacher professional development (TEPD) and learning how to work with learners in a crisis context.
The learners have different backgrounds and cultures, and I need to learn how to handle this. I did not teach in a refugee settlement before, so I needed this kind of training.
I used to handle learners differently. Before the training I did not know how to use participatory methods. Now, I use drama, debate, and question & answers as part of my teaching, and the learners are able to pick up the contents easily.
Instead of using corporal punishment I now talk with the learners and request the learner to apologise, or I refer him or her to another staff.
I have also learnt not to share with others what learners confide in me unless it has to do with abuse. Now, the learners are opening up and I can counsel them and help them solve problems if they, for example, are absent because they have too many chores at home.
I have been trained in identifying the problems and how to talk to the learners and to seek the learner’s consent if I want to involve the parents. During the COVID-19 lockdown my learners always call to check on me and I check on them.
When I visit their families, they open up to me, and I can guide them and follow up with them if their children do not come to school. I discuss freely with the parents.
I have also learnt how to handle other teachers. The teachers come from different backgrounds, and it is not easy to manage unless you are a good observer and tolerant.
I am a team leader, and I guide and connect and talk with other teachers. We really work as a team now.
Before I joined the AEP, I also was not able to recognise stress and I did not know how to help myself. If I am stressed now, I stay with friends and open up easily and share my concerns and that is a relief.”
The views expressed in this blog are the author's own.