Education Project

March 05, 2013 – Written by Student Group
Education Group
Group Members: Courtney Crum, Betty Cowans, Lauren Flynn, Sapphire Marshall, and Tiffany Tilley
Led by: Allyson Leedy

We will be spending most of our time focusing on professional development. At the beginning of the week, we will start off by observing the classrooms of the teachers that we will be working with. We will spend the first two days building a professional relationship with the teachers, as well as camaraderie with the students. By spending a sustained amount of time in the classrooms talking with teachers and interacting with students, we hope to establish ourselves as a friendly, helpful presence in the classroom—making it clear that our goal is to work collaboratively with the teachers rather than simply presenting our one-sided viewpoints to them.

We'll also be using that time to discuss instructional strengths and weaknesses with the teachers and adjusting our approach accordingly so that we can be sure to cover topics that will be applicable to the teachers and helpful in their classrooms. Each evening, our group will use our shared knowledge to organize topics to discuss during professional development days later in the week.

On the third day, we will be holding our first professional development conference where we will be discussing some of the issues that teachers have identified as important, as well as research-based educational strategies to help mediate those issues. After discussing that with the teachers, we will spend the next two days assisting in the classrooms with the implementation of the strategies we discussed—answering questions and giving constructive feedback when needed. Studies have shown that implementation is a key component to the successful integration of topics learned during a professional conference, so this portion of our time there will be crucial to ensure the sustainability of the skills learned.

After the work week has ended, our group will be participating in a larger, interdisciplinary conference which will be held on Saturday. During this conference, all of our focus groups will come together and share with a much larger group of Haitians. This conference will be widely publicized, and Haitians from many different regions will likely be attending. Saturday's conference will be a great opportunity for the teachers we have worked with to benefit from the other focus groups' research, as well as further reflect on some of the topics we discussed earlier in the week.

Furthermore, the conference on Saturday will be interdisciplinary and collaborative. Modeling that strategy will show the Haitian teachers that collaboration with one's peers is a very beneficial thing. Collaboration with coworkers is fairly uncommon in Haitian schools, but it can be a very valuable problem-solving tool in the classroom. During our presentation on Saturday, we plan on addressing this topic and stressing the point that continued collaboration would be a valuable resource for them to use in the future.

By the end of our time in Haiti, we hope to equip Haitian teachers with useful, applicable strategies to assist them in their classroom, and we also hope to learn about education in other cultures.