“Students will be creators of knowledge rather than consumers.” – Gioko Maina, Kenya
As a science teacher, Anthony Gioko transformed his classroom with technology in many ways, ultimately helping his students to win national honors. But as a school leader in charge of professional development, he must ensure that all of the teachers at his school are prepared to facilitate that very same kind of transformation.
Recognized as the Second Most Innovative Teacher in Africa (2010) and as a finalist, representing Africa, at Microsoft’s Worldwide Innovative Education Forum (2011), Gioko has translated his classroom success into a leadership position, and now manages his school’s professional development programs, designed to transform Aga Khan Academy into a professional learning community.
In this capacity, Gioko has brought the world to his school through projects like Intel’s Educating Girls in Science project. He’s passionate about transforming learning, and in particular, overcoming the obstacles presented by standardized testing.
“We need to continuously assess the students,” Gioko says, “and not on content but rather on skills, values and attitudes which will empower them to be problem solvers and useful members of society.”
Gioko brings that passion to both his students and to the work of helping fellow educators evolve. He shares his perspectives in his blog and by publishing helpful presentations, like this one on the role of technology in facilitating professional development. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Anthony Gioko.
What inspired you to become an educator?
I become an educator because of what I went through in my early years in school. One thing is that I felt that I was not given the opportunity to express myself. Whenever I wanted to express myself I was told to keep quiet and listen. That really made me wish I was an educator so that I could allow my students to express themselves.
One teacher who inspired me was the late Mr. Crispin Otieno, who really believed in me. I used to score the highest, but my teacher believed I could do better than I got. This propelled me to become better, it made me realize that however I performed, there was room for improvement. The inspiration from my teacher has kept me moving this far.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
The defining moment in my career was when my school was declared the best school overall in science congress. I was the patron of the club. During my school days, I used to participate in the science congress. I would shine in the local competition but when I reached the nationals, I was thumped by the national schools. I was always dejected and wondered, “What is it that these students have that I don’t have?”
That desire inspired my commitment as I guided my school. The success was gradual as I rose in five years from 5th position to 1st position — one year at a time. This was the most defining moment as I realized a dream of lifetime. The students were very happy, the parents were excited and the coastal community was amazed as the last time the school was in the first position was when I was born.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
Innovation and technology are elements that trigger critical thinking, communication, collaboration, cross-cultural knowledge, computing, and care and sustainability. This “C” business is synonymous with the future.
One experience that I had with my year 8 class was when I was teaching them design technology. I was supposed to teach my students about publishing, but I changed the topic to expressing ourselves through print media. I gave my students a challenge to design magazines on an issue in society. The students chose an issue and followed the design cycle of investigate, design, plan, create and evaluate.
The booklets that the student produced were amazing. The topics ranged from drugs to dancing. The students were able to express themselves very well and the projects were amazing. I used this as a learning opportunity to improve the way I taught the topic. The following year the outcomes were much better. The students even published e-magazines. From this experience, I also learned a lot and I even began producing booklets, e-manuals and e-handouts for my workshops. Through innovation and technology, I was able to learn together with my students.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
The biggest challenge we have to overcome is designing examinations that do not differentiate students’ capabilities and encourage rote memorization. There is a need to relook at assessments so that they nurture the skills of the future. This can only happen if assessment is continuous, not predictive, and requires critical thinking, creativity and communication.
Can you imagine going to school for eight years and you are examined in three half days? If you score 40 percent average, your future is doomed and you do not have a place in the society. Eight years going down the drain is painful. The purpose of education is to improve the quality of life and not to label people as failures. The current structure of education in my county needs to be redesigned.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
My inspiration in education innovation is the ability for students to create their own content. Students will learn how to learn rather than what to learn. The innovations in education are harnessing more collaboration and inculcating the pluralistic approach of knowledge. Moreover, innovation will allow students to model real-life experiences as they learn. My biggest hope is the affordance to learning which is facilitated by education innovation. Students will be creators of knowledge rather than consumers.
About Gioko Maina, Vice Principal, Professional Development and Outreach, Microsoft Showcase School Leader
Aga Khan Academy
- Birthplace: Mombasa, Kenya
- Educational background: Doctor of Management, Masters Educational Leadership and Management, Bachelor of Science, Diploma in Teacher Education, Certificate Graphic Design and Media Studies, Certificate in Education Science, Certificate in Education Information Technology, Certificate of Education Environmental Studies.
- Website I check every day: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/
- Favorite childhood memory: Working on the farm.
- Favorite book: First, Break all the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: OneNote, Surface Pro, Office Mix
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Soldier on, buddy.