As we continue to address classroom construction needs in Comitancillo, Guatemala, we are also concentrating efforts on improving the quality of education received inside classrooms. Alberta teachers traveled to the region in July, through a partnership between Change for Children and the Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA), to collaborate with local educators. Three thematic focuses were selected by local teachers based on their curriculum needs: Action-Research for Livelihoods, Communication and Language, and Technology as a Tool for Learning.
The expertise and experience shared by the participating Alberta teachers enabled teachers from three Comitancillo primary schools to enhance their teaching abilities and improve learning for students. In turn, Alberta teachers had the opportunity to learn from their colleagues and gain an understanding of the challenges and approaches to education in remote, indigenous communities within a wider community development context.
Action-Research for Livelihoods
Education in the context of extreme poverty needs to address not only theoretical and academic objectives but also develop practical capacities and applied learning at a very early age for students who may not attend school beyond primary level. Three ATA teachers worked with community members and teachers to merge practical skills like basket weaving with core subjects like math and language.
Communication and Language
Within the local curriculum, there is a focus on education in three languages: Mam (the local Mayan language), Spanish, and English. Two Alberta teachers with experience teaching in bilingual contexts shared strategies in the use of active methodologies, creative techniques, and manipulatives in a school where children arrive speaking only Mam.
Technology as a Tool for Learning
Using technology to improve the reach and quality of education, particularly in rural and remote communities, was introduced. Through the use of a local server with a digital library of educational resources and a class-set of tablets, technology as a tool for learning was installed for use well beyond our stay.
Thank you to the ATA participants for sharing not only expertise, resources, and skills, but for also sharing an openness to learn and grow in your own professional practice. The Guatemalan teachers are eager to continue the exchange and look forward to future opportunities to work together. The experience was a partnership, and the exchange of knowledge, culture, and friendship was indeed two-way!