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, August 8, 2016

Haiti Educator and Leadership Institute: Reflections

The Haiti Educator and Leadership Institute ended with all of our goals met and with high expectations for next year's institute.
Here are some "numbers" of the week:

1. 200 teacher and principal participants from 30+ schools from across the country.
2. 80+ participants who agreed to continue their professional learning through online courses.
3. 100+ children involved in an English and robotics camp.
4. 25 university students who participated in a conversational English language program.
5. 43 North American participants (30 from Canada, 13 from the US).

Numbers don't tell the whole story.

We heard many, many, many (did I say "many"?!) comments from teachers and principals about the deep appreciation for the training and mentoring that took place. Participants were already inquiring about how to register for next year's institute.

We interacted with children (and their parents) and university students who expressed gratitude for the interactions that took place. Children were deeply engaged with the robotics and English camp. University students discussed topics like the environment, terrorism, and social media. The Canadian and Haitian university students started a Facebook group so that they could continue to practice their English, French, and Creole.

Our Canadian instructors and team members told story after story of meaningful experiences in which they too learned through the experience. Many have expressed an interest in participating in the online courses and/or in returning for next year's institute.

We have started two major research projects - one on online learning in a fragile context like Haiti and the other on how teacher professional development impacts teacher beliefs about their influence on student learning - both of which could have significant impact and implications.

I feel fortunate to have been part of this incredible experience. We have committed to continuing this initiative for five years, during which we will increasingly engage key Haitian leaders so that they may sustain the initiative. We are truly making a difference with a multi-generational approach to teaching and learning! The following are pictures that reflect some of these incredibly meaningful experiences. Enjoy!

Sr. Viergina (director, College Regina Assumpta, and co-leader of the Haitian group) and Jhonel Morvan (co-leader of our Canadian group)
One of our Canadian instructors with a Haitian student during the afternoon practicum we offered
Special education course
Haitian participants leading a math workshop for their peers

What do Haitian teachers (and a Canadian young person) do during lunch break?!

English and robotics camp
English and robotics camp
English and robotics camp
Lunches provided to all participants thanks to generous sponsors
Laurier and Desire2Learn well represented in the summer institute
Samy, to my right, coordinated the university English language program, and his sister, Sasha

English language program with university students

Friday, August 5, 2016

Haiti Educator and Leadership Institute: Why do we do this?

This graphic expresses in such simple ways why we engage in supporting teacher professional development in Haiti: Teachers who are highly engaged in their work will support higher student outcomes. The snowball effect is: higher wages, economic growth, gender equality, improved health, peaceful society, and innovation.

This past week, we have supported the professional growth of 200 teachers. At today's concluding sessions we heard illustration after illustration of how the training is motivating teachers in Haiti to engage in more active and involved teaching. These teachers are committed to two more years of participating in the Educator and Leadership Institute. Their students will be direct beneficiaries of the professional growth!

Haiti Educator and Leadership Institute: Online Teacher Professional Development in Fragile Contexts

Teachers regularly engage in professional development, sometimes in face-to-face settings (e.g. workshops, conferences) or online (additional qualification courses).

However, the opportunity for online professional development for teachers in countries such as Haiti is extremely difficult to facilitate. This is largely due to the limited knowledge and experience that teachers have with online learning. A second major issue is the limited structure to support online learning in places such as Haiti (e.g. teachers might not have computers or may have a difficult time paying for Internet access).

Although the second issue is largely beyond our control, we are finding that teachers are increasingly accessing the Internet and are purchasing (usually used) laptops, tablet computers, or phones.

We are addressing the first issue (limited exposure to online learning) through the Educator and Leadership Institute which we are involved with this week in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Through the support of Desire2Learn, we have been able to develop three basic online professional development courses: General Teaching, Mathematics, and Science.

Yesterday, we inquired of our 200 participants who might be interested in participating in this pilot project AND who had regular access to a computer and the Internet. Nearly 80 people responded! Today, we provided a very basic introduction to online learning. We have already had 10 log in and begin exploring resources and posting comments!

Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing new aspects of the courses so that the participants can access resources and engage in discussions online. A research study is accompanying this project to study the challenges and barriers that participants experience as well as how the online experience may contribute to their confidence (efficacy) as teachers.

The examination of online teacher professional development in fragile contexts has had limited study. Our work in Haiti will certainly contribute to this knowledge that so that student learning and outcomes can be improved, not just in the developed countries of the world, but in all contexts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Laurier Educator and Leadership Institute: College Notre Dame and College Regina Assumpta

The locations for Laurier's summer institute are College Regina Assumpta and College Notre Dame. They are both excellent Catholic schools with beautiful locations and campuses in Cap-Haitien.They are by no means "normal" as per typical Haitian schools but provide an excellent place to host an institute as large as ours.

More important than the physical location is the commitment of the leaders from both schools to build the capacity of children and young people in their school communities. They are highly committed and passionate leaders!

College Regina Assumpta

College Regina Assumpta

College Notre Dame

View from College Notre Dame

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Haiti Educator and Leadership Institute: First Report

A team of 30 Canadian and 12 US educators are part of our summer Educator and Leadership Institute in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

We have had an amazing start to the institute! Here is an overview of the first two days:

1. Teacher Training: 220 Haitian teachers are registered for the institute! There are six courses including: Math, Science, Critical Literacy, Early Learning, Special Education, and School Leadership. Each course is being led by two Canadian educators, each of whom speaks French. There have been rave reviews from the Haitian participants!

2. English and Science Camp: 110 children, ages 4-14 are in the morning camp being led by a group of Haitian high school students, Laurier Bachelor of Education students, and education students from Central Washington University and Northeastern State University. Everyone is having an amazing time including the group of 18, 4 and 5 year old girls!

3. University English Program: 25 university students are in the afternoon camp being led by a former Haitian student from our English program as well as the Laurier B.Ed. students. Many students are saying this program has been the highlight of their day.

4. Research Project: We are researching the teaching efficacy of (belief that you can make a difference in students) and process of online learning for Haitian teachers. Both studies are significant in their scope.

My internet connection is limited but it's important to report that things have started amazingly well! Stay tuned for pictures when I have a better internet connection!