Professional Development Initiative

ITLP’s Professional Development Initiative was launched in 2009 in partnership with Columbia University’s Teachers College.

With the aim of directly impacting pedagogy and practice in Tanzanian classrooms, Sarah Bever and Matthew Thomas, two graduates of Columbia’s International Educational Development program and former public school educators, set off for Arusha, Tanzania, where ITLP already conducted annual playwriting workshops.

In addition to discussing educational theories and instructional approaches with secondary school teachers, Sarah and Matthew spent time observing classrooms, conducting interviews with school teachers and staff, and encouraging reflective practice among teachers. They also facilitated a professional development workshop with the teachers and administrators at Nkoanrua secondary school that focused on inquiry-based, learned-centered, and participatory teaching and learning approaches.

The new Tanzanian national curriculum, adopted in 2005, requires teachers employ these learner-centered approaches, rather than those approaches that are more didactic and teacher-centered. Although many Tanzanian teachers have a wealth of experience in the classroom, few have adequate training in these relatively new methods. Through its theatre workshop programs, ITLP has cultivated long-standing relationships with Tanzanian teachers and educational administrators and, thus, is uniquely positioned to provide vital training in learner-centered and participatory methods.

The work of Sarah Bever and Matthew Thomas as part of the Professional Development Initiative laid the foundation for future ITLP programming in the field of teacher training and development, which is now an essential component of what we do.