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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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Developing social entrepreneurship with partners in Haiti

Details continue to come together for our October networking trip to Haiti. We now have 9 confirmed Canadian participants, including leaders from universities, technology companies, and the government sector.

We have two anticipated outcomes of the networking trip:

1. Higher education - supporting the development of a "social incubator", on-line learning, and English language programming at universities in northern Haiti.

2. K-12 education - supporting the development of on-line training modules for teachers and technology integration for classrooms.

In both cases, what we are striving to do is to access the social capital that is already available, provide support for it, so as to develop innovative, made-in-Haiti solutions for local social challenges. Haitians have an entrepreneurial spirit ... Laurier's on-going work in Haiti is supporting that "DNA" for social change.

Friday, August 1, 2014

How digital technologies can support principals in Haiti: Creativity and innovation in school leadership

For the past two years I have led a research project investigating how digital technologies such as smartphones and tablets can support the leadership abilities of principals in Haiti.

Earlier this year, the results of the study were published in International Studies in Educational Administration, 42(1). The key findings of the study were that digital technologies can support:

1. collaboration and problem-solving
2. adapted leadership practices
3. local and cross-cultural learning

One of the interesting results of the study was that I found the participants developed trust with each other through the participation in the on-line professional learning community. Trust is a key element that leads to collaboration. Collaboration and sharing of resources have not been common amongst principals in Haiti. The digital mentoring project helped build this trust and collaborative practice.

I also found that digital technologies supported the ability of principals (both in Haiti and in Canada) to engage in "glocal" learning. Principals examined broader contexts for ideas and solutions that could address local challenges.

For further information on the article, please consult my Laurier Research Publications web-site by clicking on the link below:

Steve Sider Research Publications

Monday, July 28, 2014

Can business "do" social good? Our experience with Laurier's work in Haiti

I have been amazed over the past few years at the level of commitment to "social good" that local businesses have demonstrated to our work in Haiti.

Clearly, BlackBerry has been a significant contributor by providing 200+ phones and tablets as well as the expertise of Rob McBride, one of its Directors. He has traveled numerous times to provide training sessions and one-on-one support to our partners in Haiti. The fact that he is a Laurier alum and fluent Creole speaker helps foster this partnership!

More recently, Desire2Learn has come on board. This local company is a "mover and shaker" in the on-line learning world. Many universities and school systems use their learning management system for on-line courses. Their platform is used by more than 15 million people world-wide. Their Chief Strategic Officer will be accompanying our team in October to see how D2L may be involved with our work in educational capacity-building in Haiti. Check out their website: brightspace by D2L

Other businesses, as well as Laurier's own Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship, Launchpad, and Enactus student group, are also joining in the conversation.

Businesses might call this a "win-win". They get to explore how their products and services "make sense" in an emerging nation context while at the same time contributing to the ability of principals, teachers, and higher education personnel to develop stronger curricular and teaching abilities. The ultimate beneficiary? Students.

Social good in the business world? Emphatically, yes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

School Principals in Haiti: Recent article in Canadian and International Education Journal

The research we have been doing on school leadership in Haiti has been published in a number of scholarly journals recently.

In a special issue of the journal Canadian and International Education, Gaetane Jean-Marie and I examine some of the leadership practices of principals in Haiti from a comparative perspective. Particularly, we look at how school principals respond to local needs in innovative ways despite (or because of) the fragile nature of the context.

To access the article click below:

Canadian and International Education

Friday, June 27, 2014

Supporting Social Innovation in Haiti: Laurier Haiti Networking Trip October 2014

Building a network of partners in Haiti is an evolving process.

My original work in Haiti started10 years ago as a result of a meeting with a few key educational leaders who wanted to see change occur in Haiti. It has been amazing to see that network expand to dozens of key people and organizations across Haiti. I have worked with well over 1,000 school principals as a result of those initial meetings.

The work that we have been doing in the North Department of Haiti is a direct result of those early networking meetings. In research, we talk about "snowball sampling" where we ask key people about who they see as a key leader in a geographic region or subject area. I have been doing the same to build our network in northern Haiti.

This has led us to the Director of the Ministry of National Education for the region, top school principals, university presidents, and directors of Haitian NGOs. We are now planning a trip for Oct. 14-19, 2014 that will solidify this network as we consider ways we can work together for the next 3-5 years.

Two groups will be the focus of the fall trip:

1. Elementary and secondary educational leaders. We are going to have two days of meetings with a variety of school principals and the Ministry of National Education to discuss ways we can support the work they are doing. An example of this is the special education needs assessment that was completed as part of our May assignment. Bruce Alexander from the Waterloo Region District School Board led an extensive review of the special education needs and services of a school in Cap-Haitien. He will deliver two days of workshops to help this school, and others, develop a "Haitian-made" framework for special education. These are the kinds of projects we want to continue to partner on.

2. Higher education leaders. One of the exciting new partnerships we have is with the State University of Haiti at the Limonade campus (near Cap-Haitien). We will be having next step meetings with the president of the council of the university, Dr. Jean-Marie Théodat, when we return in October. Our successful English language program, which we developed with the Public University of the North, will be replicated at the State University. As well, there is significant interest at the university to develop a "social incubator" where faculty, businesses, and civil society organizations can support students' ideas for innovation and entrepreneurship.

I am excited about a number of Canadian and US organizations and institutions who are considering joining us as part of this networking opportunity. More details to come!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Elevator speech highlights of the Laurier service-learning trip to Haiti, May 7-18, 2014

Last evening, as part of our nightly debriefs, I asked each of the participants to share their 1 minute elevator speech i.e. a short summary of a powerful experience or activity.

There were lots of things that people shared but here are two themes that stood out to me:

1. People with a powerful vision

These included people such as Carmen and Caleb in Pignon and Thelus and Soeur Yanick in Cap-Haitien.

Caleb giving us a tour of the camp he owns (and where we stayed).

Thelus giving us a tour of his school near Cap-Haitien.

Each of these people is working hard to accomplish a specific vision for their community.

2. Working to empower women and girls.

Multiple members of our group discussed how they had witnessed a focus on supporting young women.

The motto at the girls' school where we worked, Regina Assumpta, is
 "Women of faith, let us unite to save the earth and protect those who are excluded."

Here are some of these young women with Betty Ann and CJ ... women who will make a powerful impact on future generations of Haitians.

Heading Home: Some Final Adventures in Haiti

Our team left Cap-Haitien @ 3 am this morning, catching a bus for the ride to Port au Prince. This is the first time I have taken the Sans Souci although I've had a number of friends who have used it and have spoken highly about it. We weren't disappointed.

Our bus ride was barely an hour in when everything ground to a halt and we sat for at least an hour. It was still dark so we really didn't know what was going on ... being in and out of sleep didn't help either! We then made some progress and discovered the problem - a truck had gone off the road and was blocking traffic.

In order to get past the truck, our bus had to move completely to the side of the road. Remember that the roads are narrow. And it had rained. Needless to say, the bus went a tad too far and the wheels on the right side slid into the culvert.
We all had to get off the bus and then the driver and about 20 people worked to get the bus out. It was quite an experience! The good news was that the bus made it out  and we soon got back in and carried on.

We made it to the airport with no problems and are now waiting on the first of two flights to get us to Miami. From Miami, we are all on the same flight HOME!