JUNE 2019

News & Updates

IMCDA Meeting Entebbe, Uganda (July 2-4, 2019)

he PBEA-PLC representatives, Dr. Retallick and Dr. Walter Suza, are looking forward to sharing the impacts of the PBEA modules and the PLC teaching and learning methods to the university representatives at the IMCDA meeting with those of you who are also attending.   

Evaluation and Final Report 

Thank you for completing the PBEA-PLC evaluation.  Judy Levings will be analyzing the results and those will be shared out at the IMCDA meeting. The Final Report to the BMGF will be completed in July and a summary of the report will be attached in a future newsletter. 

Dr. Alfred Odindo is at ISU!

Dr. Alfred Odindo is currently on the ISU campus completing a sabbatical with the Agronomy Department.  Alfred is learning about precision phenotyping; how to improve upon measuring phenotypic data and using RGB cameras, Image J, MODIS, and drones.  He is learning how to use this technology so he can introduce it to his postgraduate students at UKZN.    

Future Newsletters

Although funding for the project is winding down, we are continuing the Newsletter throughout 2019.  Miranda Morris, a Ph.D. student will continue to coordinate the newsletter content and will be happy to assist you with ideas on how to improve your classroom teaching.  Contact Miranda at


Judy's Farewell to Friends


As the PBEA-PLC funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is nearing its end, I want to thank you all for your friendship and professionalism.  Three years ago when Dr. Retallick asked me if I would consider coordinating the PBEA-PLC project, I had little international experience and certainly none with universities in Africa.  My professional experiences were primarily with University Extension and Youth Programs.  I dug in, learning as much as I could from professional journals and talking to African nationals about African University approaches and interventions that could guide the project's success. Based on my past experiences, I knew that successful programs depend largely on the relationships built with those faculty who are in the trenches.  I hope you believe that our team listened, observed, and took time to understand your perspective as faculty.  You may have noticed we also talked to your students, gaining their perspectives as well, while holding the research-based principles of how people learn at the forefront of the approaches taken.

A few highlights that will always stay with me: 
  • How Alfred Odindo, Julia Syibya, and Stephen Amoah took to KaHoot!   
  • Lesson Plans!!!!!!  
  • The internet and trouble-shooting prowess of Alex Wireko Kena
  • The almost perfect bowling score garnered by Richard Edema
  • Hearing about how Paul was using lesson plans and think-pair-shares!
  • Hearing from students how YOU were including more "practicals" (homework and activities) in your classroom teaching.
  • Richard Akromah pulling together a week-long mini-symposium for his colleagues from other Ghanaian Universities. Wow!!  I was honored to be a part of it.
  • How much students and faculty appreciated the PBEA modules and attention to how students learn.
  • The attention the AGRA group (Rufaro, Caroline, Tamani) and Gary Atlin gave to the project- this gave it legitimacy and hopefully will help with future sustainability efforts. 
Thanks all- it was a wonderful ride.  One which I hope does not end.

Always feel you can reach out to me at:


You Wanted to Know...

Expanding Your Professional Learning Community

The Professional Learning Community is built upon the frameworks of a community of practice. A community of practice is defined by Ettienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner as a group of people who share a passion for the same goals, and by discussion and interaction, they learn how to reach their goals in a better way. 
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The PBEA-PLC community of practice has spent the last three years focusing on the goals of (1) improved teaching, (2) knowledge dissemination, and (3) establishing a network of content experts. The next question becomes "How do we continue to grow?"

As we examine the question of how to grow, I would encourage you to remember that our community is not built upon external factors, but rather it is built upon what we do and what we want

Here are some ideas on how we can continue to grow and expand and bring more professors into our community: 

(1) Purpose: Ensure that the goals and purpose of the PBEA-PLC are clear and thoughtful. We want to ensure that through education and collaboration, African faculty are able to educate competent and capable future plant breeders who can solve Africa's food security needs. 

(2) Passion:  Continue to search out new PBEA-PLC professors with a passion to teach and a joy for learning. These individuals will embrace the mission and implement quality teaching practices in the classroom. A good start is at the new Africa Plant Breeding Association.  Ensuring that the PBEA modules are introduced and teaching and learning sessions offered will help continue the efforts of the professional learning community.

(3) Promotion: Link the values of the PBEA-PLC to the changes that have been seen in the classroom and beyond! Allow new members to see the value that you find in your community by sharing with colleagues the value of continued curriculum enhancements and improvements in teaching.  


So, what can I do to grow my community? 

Here's a few suggestions: 
  • Add the PBEA-PLC link to your email signature and share the PBEA-PLC website in your emails and addresses to friends and colleagues in the plant breeding and educational fields! Its a great way to simply and automatically share your project and your community with others!
  • Attend meetings! Plant breeding meetings will be occurring across Africa and the United States. They are a great way to network and make connections with other professors and scientists in your field!
    • The IMCDA meeting in Entebbe, Uganda from July 2-4, 2019
    • Innaugural conference of the African Plant Breeder's Association (APBA) at the University of Ghana from October 23-25, 2019
  • Build a social media presence! Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp are great, informal tools to make social connections that can lead to professional networks.
The most important facet of creating a professional learning community is to remember that it is built upon shared goals, reflection, and discussion. Use the tools around you to make the connections that will help you be successful!!

Contact the PBEA-PLC Team

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