Over 90 Teachers benefit from iTEACH Initiative

Photo: contributed Former LASCO Ministry of Education Teacher and Principal of the Year 2014/15 and creators of the iTeach professional development series, Lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication at Moneague College, Anieta Bailey (left) and Principal of Hampton School, Heather Murray (right). The educators were at the Shortwood Teachers’ College in Kingston during the inaugural staging of the iTeach Professional Development Series on November 20, 2015.

Story Highlights

  • Over 90 secondary school English teachers from across the island have been trained in contemporary teaching strategies, through the iTeach LASCO Ministry of Education (MoE) professional development series.
  • The concept for the iTeach initiative came about following the attendance of the iTeach founders at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference held in Houston, Texas in 2014.
  • The iTeach Professional Development series is endorsed by the Ministry of Education and sponsored by LASCO Distributors Limited.

Over 90 secondary school English teachers from across the island have been trained in contemporary teaching strategies, through the iTeach LASCO Ministry of Education (MoE) professional development series.

The series, which was developed by former LASCO MoE Principal and Teacher of the Year 2014/15, Heather Murray and Anieta Bailey, seeks to provide a forum to expose teachers at the secondary level to new teaching strategies.

The inaugural workshop, held on November 20, at the Shortwood Teachers’ College, was well supported by teachers from institutions such as the Bustamante High, York Castle High, St. Thomas Technical High, Ocho Rios High and Kingston Technical High Schools.

At the seminar, educators participated in interactive sessions led by instructors from Hampton School and the University of Technology (UTECH).

The day’s sessions also focused on the mechanics of writing, exposing the participants to the “Six Traits” writing methodology, which included writing assignments, discussions as well as role play activities.

Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Principal of the Hampton School in Malvern, St. Elizabeth, Heather Murray says the initial workshop is a testament to the potential that the seminar has in making a significant contribution to improving the education sector.

Mrs. Murray explains that the decision to make English Language, specifically the mechanics of writing, the focus the first workshop, arose from the recognition that there is a need to improve the writing skills of students sitting the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams.

“Through iTeach, we are hoping we can rekindle the fire and passion for teaching of English so that the teachers can go back and get the students excited about writing,” she says.

The concept for the iTeach initiative came about following the attendance of the iTeach founders at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference held in Houston, Texas in 2014.

They attended the conference as part of the prize package of the LASCO MoE Teacher and Principal of the Year 2014/15.

Lecturer in the department of Language and Communication at Moneague College in St. Ann, Aneita Bailey says that the information gained at this conference was the inspiration for the series.

“Being given the opportunity to see the kinds of strategies, the kind of technologies, everything the American society had going for it in terms of education, I was very excited about that, because there is so much information available,” she notes.

Buoyed by the overwhelming response of the participants, Ms. Bailey says that the intention is to make the workshop an annual event.

“iTeach is a movement… Even the name of the series is ‘I Teach’ so you can fill in anything at the end. So last November it was ‘I Teach Writing’, so we’re not limited to (any one subject),” she explains.

Additionally, the initiative aims to promote greater collaboration among teachers.

“The iTeach initiative is underscored by the need to see more collaboration because that is something that is sorely lacking in the education sector today, especially among teachers,” Ms. Bailey states.

She argues that collaboration among educators is an effective method for teachers to share and implement innovative approaches in delivering course content.

“Collaboration is very important, it’s very necessary because there are things that work with my students that won’t necessarily work with another set of students or you may have a teacher that is struggling because she doesn’t know how to deliver some content or even some things like discipline and classroom management. So we’re inspiring teachers and empowering students. Ultimately, that’s what we want to do,” she says.

Meanwhile, Ms. Bailey says the forum will build on the experience of the teachers by refreshing material that they learned early in their teaching careers while encouraging new approaches.

Going forward, an important aspect of the workshop will feature the use of technology in the classroom setting.

“When we say technology we don’t just mean the laptop and the projector and the smart board anymore. We want to expose teachers to other things that will really grab the children such as using information technology and social media spaces,” Ms. Bailey explains.

These dynamic educators have plans beyond the iTeach series. Currently, they are drafting a proposal to stage a conference for educators throughout the Caribbean.

In outlining the rational for the conference, the educators note that accessibility and affordability are the primary areas of concern.

“We need something like that in the Caribbean, a big conference where educators, classroom teachers specifically, can benefit. We believe that if we work with the teachers who have control over the classroom, then something must be transferred to the students. We have some hardworking teachers who sacrifice a lot, so we are arming them with the tools to do so,” Ms. Bailey explains.

The iTeach Professional Development series is endorsed by the Ministry of Education and sponsored by LASCO Distributors Limited.

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