Since the last entry about teacher training, my group of high school teachers has tapered off to a consistent five participants every Saturday. I’ve also started another training group with the teachers at the elementary school. While I was preparing for one of the Saturday workshops at the high school, a teacher from the elementary school came by and let me know there were a lot of teachers at the elementary school that were interested in participating in the workshops but at a different time. That was very encouraging. At the elementary school, I have 13 teachers and two administrators that are participating in the course. So now I have two groups.
By the time it’s all said and done both groups will be trained in:
- The Importance of Education
- Learning Styles
- Teaching for the Brain
- Lesson Planning
- Critical Thinking and Education
- Classroom Management
- MS PowerPoint
- MS Word
- MS Excel
During the first class (Intro and Importance of Education), there was something that happened with the second group that also happened with the first. I asked the group what challenges educators face in the course of trying to teach students, and they listed several: lack of resources, disinterest of students, lack of parental involvement, challenges at the government/political level, overcrowded classrooms, etc.). With both groups, I asked them to place each of these challenges into one of two categories: those that they as teachers can come to directly affect/change, and those they could not. What I saw with both groups was that the majority of challenges, they decided, were ones they could directly impact. That to me is phenomenal and very encouraging. I underscored the importance of this to both groups. There are very many challenges that educators face in the DR, but according to the teachers themselves, they can do something about them! I don’t mean to diminish the challenges, or to suggest that institutional, societal or even habitual change is a synch, but my hope was to infuse and nurture the idea that change—and therefore progress—is possible.
I also started an Encargados del Futuro group, which is the IT sector’s youth group. The focus is on using technology as a tool to serve the community, and it also has a focus on leadership. Not having luz (electricity) all the time has limited the amount that we’ve actually been able to have tech sessions, so when there’s no luz, we do a leadership workshop. When I had an interest meeting, 43 kids showed up! That was great, but a little overwhelming. Now, we’ve had seven meetings, and attendance has tapered off to a more manageable 20 or so kids.
The thing I’m looking forward to doing the most is starting another English as a Second/Foreign Language class. I think I’ll do that after the holidays.