As we end 2016, let's take a minute to reflect on how the year went and think ahead into 2017.  ITEN invites feedback and discussion from you about what you believe teachers need across the Caribbean.  

-Do Caribbean teachers need teacher training in areas like promoting critical thinking in the classroom, teaching to accommodate different learning styles, building lesson plans, exploring regional curricula, etc.?

-Or, do Caribbean teachers need more access to resources, physical and/or virtual?

-Is it that Caribbean teachers are in need of career related support and/or direction?  Are there sound possibilities for career growth in the teaching profession in the Caribbean?

Please share your thoughts as we work to address the needs of teachers across the region.  

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Caribbean teachers need more training in promoting critical thinking as well as using literacy based strategies in their instruction. In addition, Caribbean teachers need help in career readiness training to have better programs in place for students before they go into the working world.

Chantal I agree with you but additionally I think we need training in differentiating  instruction to meet the various needs of students in the classroom

I agree with Chantal that we need training in promoting critical thinking in the classroom.

I further agree with Shurleen that we also need training differentiating instruction. 

I also believe that we can truly benefit from access to both physical and virtual resources. In my own experience, many schools are lacking the necessary resources to demonstrate many laboratory exercises in Science simply because they do not have the necessary resources. Greater access to these resources be it physical or virtual would be truly beneficial.  

Dear ITEN Members

A continuation a present my thoughts about the Caribbean Teachers.

-Do Caribbean teachers need teacher training in areas like promoting critical thinking in the classroom, teaching to accommodate different learning styles, building lesson plans, exploring regional curricula, etc.?

Answer: The Caribbean Teachers have a great amount of knowledge, but as the teachers in every other country promote the critical thinking it is not an easy work, that it’s why every training in areas like promoting critical thinking in the classroom are very important for the Caribbean Teachers and every Teacher.

-Or, do Caribbean teachers need more access to resources, physical and/or virtual?

Answer: The Caribbean Teachers do need to have access to more information from the Caribbean and out of the Caribbean that information needs to be in every possible format (physical and/or virtual).

-Is it that Caribbean teachers are in need of career related support and/or direction? Are there sound possibilities for career growth in the teaching profession in the Caribbean?

Answer: a.- Yes, the Caribbean Teachers need a career related support and/or direction to help them to continue the work and continue advanced.
b.- Yes, there are many possibilities for career growth in the teaching profession in the Caribbean.

Best Regards
Fatima K. Hosein

All of the above!

From what I have been able to gather about teaching across the Caribbean, I would say that most certainly teacher training in critical thinking in the classroom, teaching to accommodate different learning styles, building lesson plans, exploring regional curricula, etc. would be most beneficial for most teachers. Teachers in the Caribbean lack opportunities for Professional Development and all of these areas would no doubt help.

I noticed that the Government of Guyana had sent RFPs for a system in which teachers could share resources and while ITEN and the Caribbean Educators Network are already connecting teachers, much more has to be done in trems of developing repositories for resources in the Caribbean. As one who has been through the mill so to speak in terms of teaching Physics and Mathematics in the Caribbean, I would say that many words are spoken by officials but little is done in terms of actually providing the resources in real terms. I myself was a disciple of University of Cambridge's philosophy of improvising apparatus in a spirit of urgency and self-reliance to teach concepts thatwere treated in the syllabus. In a sense it is a pity that we lost access to the Cambridge "A" level Physics as I used to look forward to the apparatus list and the experiments that were used to test science skills in those papers. The best of Cambridge research used to come through in the questions set and while I realise that CXC are trying their best, a connection to that high level of resaerch in the physical sciences in real terms cannot be exchanged for any book knowledge for who in the Caribbean is doing that sort of research and applying it to education?  CARIRI was trying to do some of this but what was done was not sufficient to sustain the current of resaerch in Phytsics that Cambridge offered. Having said that, I imagine that the cambridge papers are still available but then teachers would not be moved or even ptovide with the resources to devote to material which is not on the syllabus. The advent of the Internet has made it easy for access to resources such as MATA, the Mathematics development Forum or even Learn Electronics but the problem is that many teachers do not have access to the Internet or much more a decent computer to access the Internet and again many authorities in order to limit the activities of the students also cramp the style of the teachers as a by product of their administrative actions. We are truly caught in a web!

Finally, I agree that Caribbean teachers are in need of career related support and/or direction.  There are possibilities for career growth in the teaching profession in the Caribbean. The University of the West Indies have recently introduced some Ed D programmes in Education which could provide for upward mobility but again in terms of the actually hands on knowledge and teaching practice the courses do not offer much in this area. Teachers colleges need to fill that gap and offer PD courses in Speciality areas for techers and these courses must add up on the professional profile and be converted into tangible remuneration or advancement in terms of some sort of points system for promotion of those who do opt for this. The tradition of seniority has to give way to teachers who have opted for preparation and advancement.

I hope my thoughts make some sense but I have always tried to give students that hands on experience coupled of course by the sound theoretical foundation to support this. I used to have an Astronomy club in College and have always taken up the opportunity to handle equipment. We can teach a lot of mathematics through activities like sailing wher the vector components of wind force on the sails turns into real experience. So we need to have these opportunities for our students. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

I currently am involved more in computing, mathematics and electronics so I miss some of the excitement of the world of Physics although one of my nephews in involved in Nuclear Physics and Cosmology and so I have been envouraging him to get to France to work on the ITER fusion reactor in France. It is just a dream but we need dreams too!

While not wishing to sound critical of Trinidad I wish to draw a reference to institutional support for teachers. CARIRI is interested in promoting scientific resaerch but they are really an inductrial resaerch facility within the university. The Rudrinanth Capildeo Educational Resource Centre and the National Science centre (NIHERST) in Trinidad are charged with furthering science in the community and would be particularly useful as resources for teachers.

As an illustration of where we are I did a Google search for the Rudranath Capildeo Education Resource centre in Carapichaima and I could only come up with the Facebook page.

We need to be further ahead in the Caribbean and it is time to get a fuller web presence for our educational institutions and to use the technology available to get our teachers up to speed in this 21st century else we will find that our students are bored and not interested as we have nothing to offer them. The RCERC can be commissioned to provide some of these services which this forum is suggesting. Also, the  National Science Centre in Trinidad could be another agency charged to promote some of these activities.

I think the Caribbean teachers need teachers involve with the necessity of their students, the teacher need of their requeriments, emotions and feelings,the teachers need to know their region´s problems. The teachers should support all diferent kinds of learning because the students are different, the teacher should be more creative and dynamic, they should do different strategies in classrooms to include the community as parents and relatives. The teacher should make several projects to find envirommental problems. I think the identity with your country and costumes is very important for the teacher and the students.

Many of our teachers in Belize need training in all of the aspects mentioned above. What I have observed also is that most young teachers need a mentoring programme in which they are consistently supervised and evaluated to take this noble profession seriously. We normally offer support initially but once left alone the quality of delivery is poor.
I believe that there are sound possibilities for career growth in the teaching profession in the Caribbean.
This can be achieved through the continued workshops and training sessions provided by ITEN.
Critical thinking is a topic that has been coming up quite often, lately, in my school. Training in promoting critical thinking in the classroom as well as training to accommodate different learning styles would be a necessary step in developing career growth in the teaching profession in the Caribbean.

My two cents:

In addition to the need for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers, there also needs to be a Ministry of Education framework for recognizing/accrediting the CPD training that teachers undertake on their own initiative.

For example, I brought to the attention of my group, some online teacher professional development courses that were being offered this past August. Teachers in the group wanted to know if their course participation would be recognized by their employer if they took their scarce time and completed the courses. It turns out that the courses were not recognized.  I feel sure that as a consequence, despite their initial interest, teachers did not sign up to take the courses.

This is an example of the dilemma Caribbean teachers find themselves in if they wish to undertake CPD. For them to access courses recognized by their employer, they must wait for their employer to make these courses available. This approach is very restrictive  for teachers who are eager and earnest about becoming better at their craft of teaching.

Another option would be for Ministries of Education to make available to teachers, a list of accredited/recognized CPD courses which the Ministries would recognize/ accredit for teacher evaluation and promotion. This would pave the way for teachers to use their own initiative in seeking out CPD and still feel confident that undertaking these courses would be an asset to their professional life, both in terms of their learning, and in terms of their career with their employer.

There may be Caribbean countries where lists of accredited/recognized CPD courses are made available to teachers,  I don't know of any.

Just my two cents.

Chantal, 

You are in line with what quite a few others have been saying.  In fact ITEN has put together a few different options related to critical thinking .  A video series will be available in the multimedia section of the Community and then there will be discussion to follow in order to really follow up on what is presented and what you gain from it.  The next step will be to get further recognition from ministries for these options and that is on the way as well.  

As for literacy based strategies, we are also looking into the best way for making these trainings available.  Please continue to provide feed back.

Thanks a lot for your input.  Also if you've not done an introduction in the meet and greet discussion, please do so. 

See you soon.

Paula L. (Team ITEN)

Chantal said:

Caribbean teachers need more training in promoting critical thinking as well as using literacy based strategies in their instruction. In addition, Caribbean teachers need help in career readiness training to have better programs in place for students before they go into the working world.

Shurleen, 

You hit the nail on the head.  I too believe that if we could learn how to effectively teach to the various learning styles, we could do wonders in the classroom.  We'll be looking into options for these trainings as well.  Remember to do your introduction in the Meet and greet discussion forum.

See you soon, 

Paula L. (Team ITEN)

Shurleen Deon Fraser said:

Chantal I agree with you but additionally I think we need training in differentiating  instruction to meet the various needs of students in the classroom

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