About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Global is very local: A reminder

This past Saturday I met two former students, both by coincidence and within minutes of each other. One teaches in an inner-city Hamilton school - in a community that is considered the most impoverished in Canada. The other teaches 30 minutes from this community in the Six Nations of the Grand River.

As I talked with each of the two former students, I was reminded of the challenges which we sometimes assume are "out there" in other country contexts but which exist in our own communities. For example, the teacher in inner-city Hamilton talked about some of the impoverishment his students experience: limited meals, threat of removal from apartments, etc.

What caught my attention though was that both of these teachers didn't focus on the challenges they face. In fact, the vast majority of each conversation was focused on the joys of their jobs. The teacher who works on the Six Nations reserve loves her students. I ran into her in a library where she was getting children's books. She is actively engaged in professional development so she can be the best teacher she can be in working with First Nations children.

Yes, as teachers we experience lots of globally-linked challenges. Just like students in countries such as Haiti and India may experience poverty and poor nutrition, students in Canada can face similar daunting challenges. Of course there are support systems in place in Canada which limit the pervasiveness of these challenges, but they still exist. At the same time, caring and committed teachers, whether in Canada, Haiti, or India, can make a world of a difference for children. We may not be able to eliminate poverty, malnutrition, and challenging home situations, but we can strive to demonstrate and teach children what it means to be caring glocal citizens. A good reminder for why I do what I do.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

$20 tablet computers

I've posted a number of articles dealing with the "one laptop per child" phenomenon. Here is a recent one on the new $20 tablets developed for children in India (but with ramifications for children everywhere):

India's $20 tablets

Peru's massive and expensive experiment with laptops for children was a failure in many regards, primarily because of the lack of training and support which went along with the project (see this article: Forbes - Peru's failed laptop project). Certainly, children will explore and utilize these user-friendly devices with or without teacher support (see this article: Technology Review - Ethiopian children use tablets without teacher support). However, to really be used effectively to access and build knowledge and skills within school systems, teachers need to receive training so they can use the devices to their maximum potential.

The early results from the pilot project I have run in Haiti (Digital Mentoring Project) has indicated the same: portable devices facilitate knowledge-sharing and the creation of professional learning communities, but they are not used to their full potential when the training for, and "buy in" from, those using them is limited.

Monday, November 12, 2012

e-Twinning

This article describes a school in Britain and how it is using mobile technology to twin students in its school with schools elsewhere. Very similar ideas to what we are doing in Haiti and Canada with school principals:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2012/nov/06/technology-global-learning-teaching

Updates on Educational Leadership Projects in Haiti

It's been a while since I updated my blog on some of the work we are doing (or hoping to do) in Haiti.

1. School leadership study - we have put a grant application into the Cdn government to support a comparative study of six schools in two different regions of Haiti. The schools would represent urban/rural, private/public, and elementary/secondary. We hope to examine the student and administrator experiences and look at how their perceptions of school life may be similar or different. This will be a descriptive study, filling a gap in the academic literature on student and principal experiences in schools.

2.  Educational leadership conference - another grant application has been submitted seeking financial support to host a leadership conference in Cap-Haitien in May, 2013. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, we anticipate inviting approximately 50 school leaders from across the North Haiti to the conference. Presentations would be provided on issues identified by the Director of the Ministry of Education for the north. Working groups would follow-up on the various identified issues.

3. A third grant has been submitted to support the delivery of a teacher training resource that will help teachers with engaging students and supporting literacy through an activity-based curriculum. The Canadian Intramural and Recreation Association (CIRA) has donated approximately $6,000 of materials (in French) which would serve as the curriculum for the training. Our target is to train lead teachers in 50% of the schools in the north.

4.  Leadership book. I have had 10 Haitian school leaders respond to my call for chapters for a new leadership book. I will edit the book and add sections providing context and an examination at how research can inform improved educational practice in Haiti. The author chapters will complete their chapters this fall and we anticipate launching the book at a large literary fair which occurs in Port au Prince each June.

There are other projects in the wings (e.g. a potential ESL camp, technology support for the public university in the north) and we continue to write about the various projects (e.g. a chapter was just accepted for publication last week, an article for a journal is under review). Momentum is building!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Redefining international education for the digital age

This is a good article in yesterday's University Affairs magazine. It is written by the director of Canadian Virtual University, a consortium of 12 Canadian universities. The reference to the project in Haiti is particularly intriguing.

Redefining international education for the digital age

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cap Haitien Educational Research Network Trip Outcomes



The final day in Haiti started with Save the Children, one of the largest NGOs in the world with a focus on the rights of children. They are very active in Haiti and have been the co-lead with UNICEF in rebuilding the educator sector. We discussed ways we may be able to work together in the future.

The trip home has largely been uneventful with most of my time taken in writing up reports on the trip for various departments at WLU (e.g. research, education, global engagement). I also started the application process for the different government grants we will be applying for. 

As this trip wraps up, here are key highlights and next steps.

Highlights/Outcomes:

  • partnership agreements with the North Department Ministry of Education and the Public University of the North
  • visiting multiple schools in Cap-Haitien
  • exploring various logistical aspects (accommodations, health facilities, banking)
  • meeting people "on the ground" who are engaged in good work
  • meetings with the Cdn embassy staff and Dr. Berg Hyacinthe from the Haiti Prime Minister’s office 
  • through all these, sensing the interest and commitment to educational improvement in the North Department

Key Next Steps:

  • grant applications completed (Cdn Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade)
  • concept papers developed around multiple project possibilities
  • strengthening the partnerships and engaging in training and research starting already in the next 6 months

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meetings at Canadian embassy in Port au Prince and with the government

This morning, we flew from Cap-Haitien to Port au Prince for a day of meetings... and what a day it was!

The early morning highlight was going to the Cap airport with Justin and watching him "work the crowd!" The guy is a master. Everywhere we went in Cap, he seemed to know people. At the airport he was hugging people, shaking hands, kissing babies (OK, maybe not babies). He is a key guy in our future work in Cap.

After arriving in PAP, a former M.Ed. student of mine (Odeus Georges Odney) picked us up and took us to our meetings. We started at the Canadian Embassy, meeting with three people responsible for higher education, governance, and CIDA's work in Haiti. We had an excellent meeting with them discussing various aspects of education in Haiti. They were very appreciative of the work I have done in Haiti (I had sent them a brief before leaving Canada) and highly encouraged us to continue with the partnership-building and research networks.

From the embassy, we traveled to the Haitian Prime Minister's office where his advisor (Dr. Berg Hyacinthe) met us. I had been connected with Dr. Berg by a colleague I have worked with in the U.S. This gentleman would put Justin to shame with his schedule! He has a Ph.D. in cyber terrorism and informatics from  Florida State U. He was a prof in France before returning to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He is now the key advisor to the government on issues such as education. He also is head of research at the state university of Haiti. Oh yes, he's also a lawyer. I would guess he is no older than 40. Wow.

We spent two hours with Dr. Berg and received lots of input and encouragement regarding the work we are planning in the north. He also gave us great counsel regarding the new state university that has been built in Haiti and encouraged us to pursue a partnership with it.

We returned to our hotel around 5 and I spent the next hour with Odney who is hoping to apply for a PhD at University of Ottawa. We enjoyed a celebratory dinner at the Visa Lodge for an excellent 3rd day of networking and partnership-formation!

We have one more meeting tomorrow morning with Save the Children before we fly back to Toronto.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who would have known five years ago...

Five years ago, I was asked to supervise the Master of Education project of Justin Metelus. I had met Justin in a course I taught a year or two earlier and I knew he was highly respected by his peers. I agreed to supervise him.

It's amazing how these things work out.

This week, I've realized how significant of a person he is in education in Haiti. Three weeks ago, he left his post at the Ministry of Education in Port au Prince to come to Cap-Haitien as the Director of the department. Here is a little bit of insight into his new life:

1. In the two hours he met with us today, there were 42 voice mail messages left on his phone.
2. Both yesterday and today, he had security guards with him at all times - he is pushing for change in the north and the government has provided the security guards as a measure of assurance for his work and vision.
3. His BlackBerry rings approximately 1x/minute.
4. Everywhere we went, people knew Justin.
5. He has established multiple schools, universities, and educational initiatives in the north.
6. Justin has a huge vision for the north (and Haiti) to be changed through education.

I could not have asked for a better colleague to work with here - highly connected, highly respected, and with a big vision!

New Partnerships, New Friendships

Today was a good day of discussions and partnership formations here in Cap-Haitien. We met with officials from the Public University of the North at Cap-Haitien (president, two deans, business administrator) as well as the Director of the Ministry of Education (pictured with me to the right).

An outcome of the meeting were two partnership agreements: one between WLU and the Ministry of Education (MENFP) and the other between WLU and UPNCH. The focus of our partnership with MENFP will be on educational leadership capacity-building. We will be putting in an application to host a "fact-finding" and "vision-casting" conference in Cap-Haitien, perhaps in May. Justin Metelus (Director, MENFP) will be the host and coordinator.

The partnership between WLU and UNPCH will have a number of areas of collaboration including the development of an English Language Institute and support (research, technology, pedagogy) for university professors.

We just finished meeting with the brother of the Haitian Consul General (Toronto). He lives in Montreal six months of the year and in Cap the remaining months. He was very helpful in giving us ideas for hotels, health care, banking, and transportation.

We wrap up the day with an evening meeting with the Director of an NGO here (Rayjon) which has a focus on nutrition, health care, and education.  We leave at 7:30 tomorrow morning for a flight back to Port au Prince - then a meeting with the education officials at the Cdn embassy and a meeting with the state university of Haiti. More details to come on these meetings. For now, mission accomplished in Cap-Haitien.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

School Supply Distribution in Cap-Haitien

Here is a short video that shows Bruce Alexander, school principal from Waterloo school board, distributing school supplies that Laurier students donated:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO_wVEfA0SU

Cap-Haitien Educational Leadership Research Network

Today, we flew to Cap-Haitien from Port au Prince. We were met at the airport by the North Department Director of the Ministry of Education (MENFP), Justin Metelus, who was a student I supervised for his Master of Education degree. He is very passionate about re-envisioning education in the north of Haiti (also the subject of his M.Ed. thesis). As the Director, he oversees education for the entire North Department, one of 10 government regions in Haiti. As you can imagine, he is a significant person in the region. I would guess that his Blackberry rang at least once/minute and everywhere we went, people knew him.

Justin toured us through two public elementary schools and one high school (he founded this school - now with 5,000 students studying there). We also had a chance to meet at this office and discuss a partnership between WLU and MENFP. He is very eager to do this. As we talked, it was clear that he thought a conference would be a good way to get 50 of the top educators from the region together to discuss how to "re-imagine" education in the north of Haiti. I will take the lead with securing funding for such a conference and he will take the lead with inviting appropriate people and setting the agenda. I anticipate that the conference will take place over a weekend in April or May and I will bring a team of educational leaders from Canada to participate.

As we talked with school principals today, I was reminded of the basic (but so easily forgotten in our Cdn context) need to feed children. When I asked the two elementary principals what their number one need is, they both said feeding children. It seems that the World Food Programme which began after the earthquake is no longer providing food for children in Cap-Haitien. This was a real enticement to send children to school - they would be fed. However, the principals said that it's hard to get children to come to school when they are needed at home to help with bringing in an income so the family can have food.

Canteens are built at schools but there is no money for food.  We have much to be thankful for in Canada. Although we have families who have similar needs, there are significant initiatives to meet these basic needs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Haiti ... but with a different time-frame and a good reminder of friends

Over the next few days, I will provide updates regarding the trip that Bruce Alexander (principal, Waterloo) and I are undertaking to/in Haiti.

My day began with a midnight call from American Airlines indicating that our 6:25 am flight from TO to JFK was delayed.  The delayed time meant we would miss the one flight a day from New York to Port au Prince. I normally fly through Miami so was able to get us on at 6:30 flight to Miami. Good news! Unfortunately, we were delayed in Miami and missed our internal flight from Port au Prince to Cap-Haitien.

Almost every trip to Haiti has travel glitches; nothing new today on that note.  What I was reminded of though today was the importance of friends here in Haiti. While in Miami, I was able to contact four different friends in Haiti (one by Skype and three by email) who helped with our alternative travel plans: one made a reservation for a hotel I have stayed in near the PAP airport (where I am on-line now), another helped make new reservations for our internal flight tomorrow, and a third helped with rescheduling hotel and meetings in Cap Haitien. What a blessing!

Another blessing was our arrival in PAP - no problems with getting our bags, clearing immigration, and getting a taxi for a reasonable fair. There is an increased UN presence at the airport, at least compared to my last few trips when they have been largely absent (from what I could tell) at the airport.

Rarely do plans here (or in Canada for that matter) go as anticipated. We shall now see what tomorrow holds!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cap-Haitien and Educational Leadership Partnerships

I leave in one week for meetings in Cap-Haitien and Port au Prince. I am delighted that Bruce Alexander, a principal from the Waterloo school board, will be joining me. He has worked in teacher training in Haiti before and is French-speaking. Cap-Haitien is in the north of Haiti - about a 30 minute flight from Port au Prince. It is the second largest city in Haiti and is becoming the focus of WLU's partnership work in Haiti (see earlier blog posts as to rationale).

Our schedule is looking like this:

Oct. 9 Arrive in Cap-Haitien and dinner meeting with president of UPNCH (Public University of the North) and Director of MENFP (Haitian Ministry of National Education)

Oct. 10 Full day of meetings with UPNCH and MENFP - signing of Memorandum of Understanding and development of plans for an English Language Institute as well as a Leadership and Research Centre

Oct. 11Visits to schools and facilities in Cap-Haitien and local area (to develop plans to bring future groups of WLU students and Waterloo-area teachers)

Oct. 12 Travel to Port au Prince - full day of meetings with university, NGO, and Canadian embassy personnel + evening meetings to establish the French-language equivalent to www.haitieducationalleadership.com

Oct. 13 Return home

It will be a packed week! I will be posting regular updates when we are on the ground.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

$35 Tablet Computers for India? Potential for Marginalized People in Countries like Haiti

There has been work in India (and elsewhere) to develop a cheap tablet computer which could connect children in rural areas to the Internet. This is the latest article I've seen on this (click below):

$35 Tablets for India

The article includes a very short video which gives a demo of the voice recognition and Internet capability of the tablet.

It also includes a second section which reviews some of the research on programs like One Laptop Per Child.

If the roll-out of this new tablet can succeed (especially in the "scalability" factor - i.e. distribution and use by a small number of people to massive distribution/access), then it shows great potential for other marginalized areas such as in Haiti. Looking forward to following this!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Educational Leadership and Glocalization

The term "glocal" has been in use for the past 10+ years. However, a 2010 article by Jeff Brooks and Anthony Normore in the journal Educational Policy (title of article is title of this blog post) has piqued my interest in glocal educational leadership.

Much of my focus at the WLU Faculty of Education has been on classroom glocal practice. I am trying to help new teachers develop practices and dispositions which connect the global and local. However, the work of Brooks and Normore (educational leadership and glocalization) may be an area I need to explore further.

Brooks and Normore identify nine areas in which educational leaders must develop glocal literacy: political literacy, economic literacy, cultural literacy, moral literacy, pedagogical literacy, information literacy, organizational literacy, spiritual/religious literacy, and temporal literacy. In each domain area, they provide examples of glocal connections. For example, regarding economic literacy, principals need to understand more than just their own school budget but also need to recognize broader economic influences (e.g. why is there an increase in foreign language classes? why do we see financial literacy as important for students? why do specialized programs for the arts often get cut in favour of literacy and numeracy initiatives when budgets get shaped?).

I'm currently writing an article to extend their work. One focus of the article is to consider whether these nine domain areas are constructed from a particularly North American perspective? i.e. does research from "the south" collaborate these nine areas or would others be included (or deleted)?

A paper that my colleague Dr. Gaetane Jean-Marie (University of Oklahoma) and I have developed will be shared at a symposium that Normore will be at in Brisbane, Australia next month. I'm looking forward to continuing the dialogue with them as we explore how to operationalize (i.e. make into practice) their framework.

Friday, September 14, 2012

BlackBerries and Popular Culture in Haiti

There's an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about how RIM's BlackBerry Messenger service still reigns in much of the developing world. The article focuses on the "coolness factor" with BBM but we have certainly seen the benefits of BBM in Haiti with school principals: a fast, secure way to connect with other principals. Click on the link below to read the article or watch an associated video:

Wall Street Journal - BlackBerry in Haiti

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cap-Haitien Educational Leadership Networking - October 2012

I'm firming up plans to return to Cap-Haitien (northern Haiti) in early October. We have a signed agreement in place with WLU, University of Oklahoma and the Haitian Ministry of Education (North Haiti Department) to develop a collaborative partnership for educational leadership research and training. I anticipate having the Public University of the North at Cap-Haitien (UPNCH) come on as a signatory on this trip. We are already in conversation with other universities, schools, and NGOs about getting others on-board as well.

The vision is to establish a network of groups involved in education to support a concerted plan to develop school leaders in that region. As I've posted before, there is very little work being done anywhere in Haiti around school leadership. This research network would develop leadership training, and study its effectiveness, specifically in the north of Haiti.

The first step is to agree to work together and develop some terms of reference. From this starting point, we would then identify the needs in the area and get input as to what immediate, and long-term, steps need to be taken to address these needs.

It's exciting to see this next step in my work in Haiti take shape. I've worked with hundreds of school leaders and feel that some good progress has been made in supporting their leadership skills. However, this next step will provide a more structured framework for not only supporting leadership skills but examining how effective we are in developing these over time.

Stay tuned for more details regarding the trip and this collaborative partnership.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Education Beyond Borders: TED Talk Sept. 22 Oakville

I'll be the lead speaker at the Sept. 22 TEDx Talk in Oakville. My topic is education beyond borders with the focus on the Digital Mentoring Project in Haiti. If your're not familiar with TED Talks, these are 15 minute inspirational/informational presentations done around the world at special TED events.  Check out one of my favourite talks by Temple Grandin:

http://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds.html

I've had lots of opportunity to speak to groups about the DMP, as well as my other work in Haiti, but it will be great to be part of a larger conversation on "re-imagining" education in different contexts. The talk I will give will be grounded in a book chapter I wrote this summer. The book considered innovative ways in which education is making a difference in the alleviation of poverty in contexts around the world.

We tend to think of contexts such as Haiti in carte blanche frameworks ... all educational efforts are impoverished ... when, in reality, there are many innovative things being done. Usually in these cases, change is being led by a person (or group) with a vision. Other people come alongside the visionary and change starts to happen. I see my job as providing support to these people and helping others to catch a vision for what might be. This is where "education beyond borders" starts to take shape ... educators helping educators within and across national boundaries.

It is my understanding that the TEDx Talk in Oakville will be videotaped and archived by TED. However, if you are interested in attending, please email me (ssider@wlu.ca).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Should new teachers care about glocal engagement?

In my earlier post, I discussed my personal ethic of care: what I see as the raison d'etre for why I am engaged with glocal education and citizenship. Following this previous post, I now consider whether my personal ethic of care should be "transplanted" (transmitted? transferred? these are all problematic because of the connotations associated with each of these words) into others, particularly new teachers? Should I educate, equip, and empower others with this part of my value system?

It's somewhat of a silly and narcissistic question. First, many new teachers already share a similar ethic of care i.e. it's not all about me! Second, I recognize that many of the "nurture" aspects of my own development, which have led to the development of my ethic of care, are not going to be shared by others. New teachers come with their own "buffet" of background experiences, some of which will motivate them to a glocal citizenship disposition and others which will not. This needs to be recognized and honoured.

So beyond the silliness of the question, I do see value in helping new teachers develop a glocal perspective. Perhaps most importantly, a glocal perspective helps them help their students to see the "bigness" of the world - an amazing (and sometimes ugly) world it is! A glocal understanding also helps teachers to assist their students in seeing the injustices of the world and the nuances within these injustices. Glocal perspective-building encourages teachers and students to see the value in learning languages, the beauty of music and art from different parts of the world, and a more complete perspective of history and geography. It should also motivate us to action.

I don't particularly like the phrase "citizens of the world", partly because I really don't know what this means. However, we do talk a lot about 21st century learning these days - the ability to analyze, the importance of creativity, etc - all skills and traits which can help in discovering the world and shedding light on the blight and beauty of humanity. New teachers have an incredible opportunity!

I love the Haitian phrase - piti piti, little by little - we can help nurture teachers to be active glocal citizens.

Why do I value glocal education and citizenship? A personal ethic of care

Over the past few years I've been motivated by the question, "What can I do to motivate and equip teacher candidates to develop a glocal perspective?" Another way to phrase this question is, "How do we help new teachers become glocal citizens?" I've been wrestling with these questions for some time. Today, I've been wondering why this is important to me. Why should teachers care about glocal citizenship? Why should teachers help educate their students about the local and global community?  Why do I value the idea of learning about, and being active in, world issues?

I suspect, not surprisingly, that part of my motivation in this area is due to my own background: early childhood years in India, family discussions and media awareness about global issues as a young person, traveling during university through parts of Latin America, studies that focused on international relations, and educational work in places such as Thailand and Haiti in my professional life. So, glocal awareness has become a part of my DNA - somewhat like a branch drafted onto a tree, except that the branch is increasingly becoming the tree.

But I think it's more than just a "nurture" aspect.  I have a deep-seated belief that knowing about the local and global community, and being an active participant within them, is part of what it is to be fully human: to care for people, their circumstances and life-situations, whether they live beside me or in places I will never see. This ethic of care is certainly part of most religious value systems ("who is my neighbour?") and it resonates deeply with me. So learning about the world, and being an active citizen of it, gives me the opportunity to learn about others and support them the best I can.

The idea of learning about, and supporting, others around the world is certainly altruistic. It's also messy. Many of the issues of social justice I once considered "black and white" are not so starkly contrasted in my mind anymore. But that's for another post!

Now, if this my personal ethic of care, is it reasonable to think that a similar ethic of (glocal) care should be encouraged of new teachers?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Canadian Geographic interactive map

I have used this interactive map a number of times and find it to be a great resource for comparative education:

http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/worldmap/cida/cidaworldmap.aspx

Teachers can find lots of resources in the "For Teachers" tab.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More educational leadership contacts in Haiti

Yesterday I met with the Haitian consul general in Toronto. He and I had met at a meeting of people who were doing work in Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake. We have remained in touch by email as we have followed the work of each other in the time between. In yesterday's meeting, he provided me with more contacts as we considered how we might further support each other in our desire to see educational development take place in Haiti.  He is originally from Cap-Haitien so is quite pleased with the shift in my focus to CH from Port-au-Prince.

I am quite confident that the partnerships we are developing in Cap-Haitien with the public university, the ministry of education, and other groups will provide a strategic focus for educational leadership development in Haiti. I received a long email from the director of the ministry of education office in CH just yesterday outlining his vision for the re-conceptualization of education in that area. As well, I've been invited to do a day of teacher training in Cap-Haitien just before the school year starts (August) so that may lead to further solidifying of my (and WLU's) work there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Haiti's (lack of) capacity for education oversight: Encourage, entice, and enrich

I'm amazed at the commitment level of teachers and directors (principals) in Haiti. Of course, like in Canada, there are exemplary teachers and not such exemplary teachers. Yet, considering the wages and teaching conditions, it's remarkable that so many educators are as committed as they are.

This past trip reminded me although there is significant commitment at the local (i.e. school) level, the Haitian government is ill-equipped and ill-prepared (and ill-committed??) to oversee macro-type of change. The disparate school systems (state, private, "blended" - and a whole spectrum of quality within each) are essentially left to monitor themselves. I firmly believe that most teachers want to do the very best they can in their profession. However, without encouragement, enticement, and enrichment from an overseeing body, sometimes the lowest level of expectation is the target.

A healthy, functioning Ministry of Education should encourage and enrich teachers by providing paper, human, and electronic professional resources available to all. It also would entice teachers through a certification and qualification process. By identifying, and monitoring, expectations of pedagogy, classroom management, communication, etc., the Ministry of Education would contribute significantly to the improvement of the educational system in Haiti.

For now, grassroots efforts are making a difference - just without the consistency and "10,000 foot view" that an overseeing body should be able to provide.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Planting seeds for educational partnerships in Haiti

I had an excellent trip to Haiti last week. I made contacts with educators in multiple parts of the country: Carrefour, Leogane, Petit Goave in the west; Port au Prince; and, Cap-Haitien and Limbe in the north. Some highlights:

1. Meeting Dr. Manigat, the vice-rector (vice-president) of Universite Quisqueya, one of the best universities in Haiti. Dr. Manigat was also a former presidential candidate in Haiti and a constitutional law expert. We discussed how UQ and WLU might work together in the future.
2. Meeting with the rector (president) and dean of the the L'Universite Publique du Nord au Cap-Haitien as well as the director of the North Department for the Ministry of Education. We spent an evening dinner as well as a morning in discussions about supporting their programs.
3. Participating in the graduation of 48 students who completed their Master of Education through Laurel University - an amazing experience!
4. Bringing five new Haitian school leaders on board with the Digital Mentoring Project. Research in Motion (RIM) donated 5 Blackberries to these new participants and they were thrilled to receive them!

There were many other meetings as well as opportunity to see parts of Haiti that I have never been to. I am excited about how the capacity which has been built through the M.Ed. - one example is the director of the North for the Ministry of Education who has a new vision for education in Haiti. Leadership capacity is being built and I am glad to be part of the support of it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Haiti M.Ed. graduation and networking meetings

Next week I'm back to Haiti for a week of meetings and to celebrate the graduation of the M.Ed. students I have taught. I have supervised 12 M.Ed. projects so it will be particularly gratifying to see these amazing school leaders receive their degree! I am hoping to edit another book which will be based on the research projects these 12 have completed.

The graduation ceremony is May 12. I will spend two days in advance of that in meetings with university administrators in Port au Prince and Carrefour (south of PAP). Then from May 13-15, I will fly to Cap Haitien (Haiti's second largest city - in the north), where I will have a chance to meet officials from the Ministry of Education as well as representatives from universities. I'm hoping to see a few schools in between meetings as well. It's going to be a busy week! So exciting to see the ground-swell of interest in, and support of, leadership development in Haiti schools!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comparative and International Education Conference - Puerto Rico

This week I have had the opportunity to be at the CIES conference in Puerto Rico. I am presenting a paper on measuring global citizenship dispositions within teacher education candidates. You can find a copy of my PowerPoint on my Wilfrid Laurier University website research page (click here).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Canadian perspectives on global citizenship

Today I'm presenting a paper at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in Vancouver. The paper provides an overview of a variety of Canadian university programs for global citizenship education as well as some of the recent Canadian literature on the topic. The second part of the paper considers the transformationalist (McGew, 2000; Shultz, 2007) approach we've taken at WLU with our Glocal initiative.

A copy of my PowerPoint from today's presentation is available on my WLU web-site (click here):
Steve Sider's WLU Research Home-page

Sorry for the goose-chase but I couldn't attach the PowerPoint in my blog!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Networking to improve student learning in Haiti (Pt 1 #5)


5. Liaise with MENFP, Haitian universities, and other partners to further develop the educational system in Haiti.

One of the challenges of working to improve student learning in Haiti is the lack of coordination and cooperation between the many different groups involved with education. A national principals' organization could serve as the conduit (and catalyst) to change this.

Working with the Ministry of Education (MENFP), Haitian universities, and other interested groups (external universities, NGOs, IGOs), a national organization of principals would serve as a hub for networking. Without a particular charitable, political, or financial purpose, but with the mission of improving student learning through enhanced educational leadership, the organization would be logically situated to bring the different groups together around this goal.

The organization could partner with MENFP to recognize and credential the principal qualification program (described earlier). It could work with academics within the various ecole normale superieure (university faculties of education) and external universities to provide professional development opportunities (courses, workshops, journals, newsletters, etc) as well as research support. By being a non-partisan organization, it would be able to communicate with the disparate private school systems throughout the country and not be viewed as infringing on a particular mission, charity or business.

When we (re)imagine a new educational possibility for Haiti, it begins with leadership. A national principals' organization would provide the contextual capacity for such leadership, whether by developing a certification process, initiating and supporting research projects, providing professional development resources, and/or networking with the various stakeholders.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Professional learning communities in Haiti (Pt 1 #4)


4. Provide professional learning opportunities such as regional events and a national gathering of school principals

Approximately 15% of schools in Haiti are public (government) schools. The remaining 85% of schools are a wide variety of Catholic, Protestant, and other private schools. A system of professional learning communities would provide an opportunity for networking and shared professional learning around a common goal: improved student learning. Although there is a strong sense of "silo-ism" (i.e. not wanting to collaborate or cooperate with other schools/school systems - sometimes based on suspicion of the intentions of others or in an attitude of "what's in it for me?") in Haiti, my experience has shown that there is a move among new, emerging, school leaders to break this down. A national principals' organization, in partnership with universities and the Ministry of Education, could serve as the catalyst for breaking down these barriers. The organization could also lead the effort for developing regional professional learning events and even a national convention for school leaders. On-line professional learning communities could be developed in tandem with these face-to-face events and would serve as a networking hub to support and extend professional learning on a 24/7 type of basis.

Regional events would be relatively easy to develop in Haiti. The country is already organized around 10 (geographically-based) departments that would serve as natural professional learning regions. A national event may be more challenging (e.g. costs and time involved with transportation) but utilizing digital technologies could overcome these challenges. For example, a national event could take place in a large city such as Port au Prince or Cap Haitien and web-cast to regional hubs. I am already familiar with a leadership conference which occurs in the United States which is simulcast in Port au Prince. A similar model, with a central conference and regional hubs, could be utilized in Haiti. If the event couldn't be simulcast (live), it could be taped and then distributed to the regional hubs for regional conferences scheduled a few weeks later.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Re(imagining) educational research in Haiti: (Pt 1 #3)

3. Encourage educational research and disseminating this research through a professional journal and web-site.

Currently, educators in Haiti rely on research, and the resulting reports, articles, and books, that is based in North American and European contexts. We need more (and better) research completed in, and on, Haiti. A national principals' organization can support this through the certification process (described earlier), partnerships with academics at Haitian universities, and through "knowledge mobilization."

Knowledge mobilization refers to the dissemination of research. It can take place through workshops and courses but, to cast the widest net, should certainly include dissemination through a professional journal and website (see www.haitieducationalleadership.com). Mobilizing the information contained within research reports is not really all that challenging in today's digital age; first, we have to establish a mind-set (a professional expectation) that research is something all educators should be involved in.

Typically, we refer to "on-the-ground" research as action research. Teachers and school administrators identify a problem and determine steps to investigate that problem, usually within their own school or local area. The findings lead to steps to resolve the problem, leading to improved practice. There is a cyclical nature to research as the action steps and changed practices should themselves be examined. Principals should be leading this type of action research on an on-going basis and setting new and improved direction for their schools based on the results. They should also be sharing the results of localized action research practices (knowledge mobilization) so that others can learn from their experiences.

I have led action research training in Haiti (see the guide I've published in French and English which is located on the www.haitieducationalleadership.com website). Principals can receive basic training in a day. One of the successful practices we developed in Haiti has been an opportunity, usually 4-6 months after the initial training, to bring the participants back together to share their experiences. In 2009, we published a number of these action research projects in a book (posted on www.haitieducationalleadership.com). Again, this is part of knowledge mobilization.

Haitian universities should be heavily involved in this process. Scholars within these institutions should be leading the training, supporting the research, and establishing conferences, journals, and web-sites to ensure the results are widely publicized.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Haiti: (re)Imagining a System for Principal Qualifications (Pt 1 #2 elaborated)


2. Develop a system for principal qualifications.

A number of steps would be important in developing a structure to support a "principal certification" program. Likely, this would need to be a "two tier" certification program since some people currently serving in principal positions would not have a university degree which should be seen as a minimum academic standard.

a) Determining minimum educational qualifications. A university degree, preferably in education, would be the minimum standard for a "tier 1" principal qualification. For those with only a high school education, the track they would embark on would be for a "tier 2" (or "associate"?) principal certificate.

b) Establishing multiple professional courses which candidates would have to satisfactorily complete in order to be recognized as a certified school principal. This could follow a number of different models:
  • four courses, each of 30 hours in length (i.e. 1 week), which would cover issues of leadership, educational law, curriculum development, programming, educational psychology, budgeting, etc
  • multiple, shorter courses (i.e. 1-3 days) focused on specific topics (e.g. 1 day on a facet of educational law, 2 days on curriculum development, etc)
  • Master of Education degree - obviously, this would involve a longer period of completion (and wouldn't be available to those without a university degree) but would provide an internationally recognized professional degree program leading to principal certification
c) In any model, there should be two distinct aspects built into the certification program: an internship (or service component) and an action research project. More on this in my next blog posts.