Written by Mercy Munialo, Dignitas Leadership Coach
The magic of the African Baobab tree cannot be compared to any other tree. The tree has an awe-inspiring physique; it’s extremely huge, enormously tall. Once you see it, you are immediately amazed at just how beautiful it is.
Has anyone ever told you a story so good, you felt that the only thing lacking is the actual experience? A story that communicates something so significant, something as enormous as a Baobab tree? Dignitas embodies transformation and reimagines education for underserved communities in Kenya, in ways as significant as the towering Baobab tree. Cohort after cohort join this growth journey to see themselves equipped to better their pedagogical and leadership skills in order to create vibrant schools where all children thrive and succeed.
In 2018, we spread our wings to reach more schools. We wanted to scale: not just our impact but quality in training for upcoming cohorts. Idea after idea was birthed and in between, Peer Facilitators was one focal idea that brought the real Baobab experience to those who have only heard of our work and not experienced it.
Before I lose myself in jargon, who is a Peer Facilitator? At Dignitas, we celebrate effort. A Peer Facilitator is an alumnus of Dignitas who has not only developed a growth mindset, but models exemplar skill in his/her school and classroom. Think of them as brand ambassadors. They ‘walk the talk’, and communicate Dignitas values, skills and competencies. So, when the Peer Facilitator role came forth, we knew it would be vital in the school transformation process.
When teachers first join our program, they are often unsure of the journey ahead. They come with differing mindsets. As we get to know the teachers, these mindsets come to light, and our Leadership Coaches help shift them towards what works for learners. However, we can only do so much, without someone who has seen the Baobab tree and can relate it to them.
Peer Facilitators model exemplar skills in our workshops and help new cohort members pursue these same skills and competencies for themselves. They link the content of Dignitas training to their own experience of transformation. They share what they have done in their own classes, what has worked for them, and the ways in which they have changed how they teach, and how run their schools. The magic? They are ready to answer questions, they can pinpoint examples of new practices, and model first-hand how different skills look, and how they impact learners when rightfully applied.
This year the role of Peer Facilitators was made even more critical in the context of large virtual workshops. From helping to organize and lead discussions in Zoom breakout rooms, to taking attendance for each session, the Peer Facilitators’ work never seemed to be done. The Peer Facilitators supported participants, complemented the Dignitas Leadership Coaches, and even gave valuable feedback in session debriefs.
Peer Facilitators are key pillars of our program, and we are excited to continue to grow with them!