2013 Teachers Summit: Follow-Up

 In Partner Schools, Quality Schools Program

Aug 31, 2013
Erik Badger

Last month we held our 2nd Annual Teachers Summit. This is our biggest single teacher training all year. Ten excellent teachers and administrators from Holland, MI – all brought together by Calvary Church – came and spent two and a half days with 60 of our partner school teachers. They brought with them a host of high quality teaching materials – a full suitcase for each school! – and a whole bunch of great lessons they designed specifically for our teachers. By request, the lessons followed up on work that was started last year, reached across the content spectrum, and provided our teachers with a whole series of student-centered, engaging and interactive methods and activities for the classroom.

The trick, however, in training teachers in Haiti is that the kinds of methods and activities that we’re teaching them how to use are absolutely foreign to them. The schools they went to, in all probability, relied exclusively on rote memorization, recitation, and corporal punishment. They sat in rows crowded on wooden benches, spoke only when asked to by the teacher, and got whacked on the hand with a belt or ruler, made to stand on one foot in the corner in humiliation, or worse, if they failed to recite the assigned text properly. I’ve sat in on classes where just to remind students what the result of failure or disobedience is, the teacher will keep a switch in one hand or hang a belt around his neck.

As you can imagine after years of experience in this system, when we come to our teachers offering activities that encourage students to be active participants in their education, to explore their creativity, create and test hypotheses, or use fun games for learning, it takes a lot of support for them to gain the confidence and actually try them themselves in their classrooms. They love the activities during the trainings, but once they’re back in their own classrooms the natural tendency is to fall back on what they know.

With this in mind, we’re planning a follow-up in-house training for our partner school teachers in early October. With guidance from long-time friend and colleague, Steven Werlin, we’ll spend two days revisiting the lessons learned at the Teachers Summit, adapting them specifically for use in our teachers’ classrooms, and then scheduling a calendar for implementation. Then, with this calendar in hand, we’ll visit the schools when they are implementing the activities to further support the teachers.

After the Teachers Summit, I sat down with Betlie Cereme, a teacher and coordinator of the kindergarten program at IMN Community school. Even as one of our best educated and more experienced teachers, Betlie was thrilled about the training. “I loved this training. I feel that I really built my capacity to teach. Thank you!

Haiti Partners also wants to thank Calvary Church, Joyce Johnson, and the whole team of fantastic teachers that put the time, effort and resources to make this year’s training a success: Laurie, Sarah, Mark, Chip, Angela, Chad, Char, Renee, Kristi and Doug. Thank you!

*For more great pictures from the Teachers Summit, click here.


“I loved this training. I feel that I really built my capacity to teach. Thank you!” Betlie Cereme, teacher and kindergarten coordinator at IMN Community School

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