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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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Professional learning communities in Haiti (Pt 1 #4)

4. Provide professional learning opportunities such as regional events and a national gathering of school principals

Approximately 15% of schools in Haiti are public (government) schools. The remaining 85% of schools are a wide variety of Catholic, Protestant, and other private schools. A system of professional learning communities would provide an opportunity for networking and shared professional learning around a common goal: improved student learning. Although there is a strong sense of "silo-ism" (i.e. not wanting to collaborate or cooperate with other schools/school systems - sometimes based on suspicion of the intentions of others or in an attitude of "what's in it for me?") in Haiti, my experience has shown that there is a move among new, emerging, school leaders to break this down. A national principals' organization, in partnership with universities and the Ministry of Education, could serve as the catalyst for breaking down these barriers. The organization could also lead the effort for developing regional professional learning events and even a national convention for school leaders. On-line professional learning communities could be developed in tandem with these face-to-face events and would serve as a networking hub to support and extend professional learning on a 24/7 type of basis.

Regional events would be relatively easy to develop in Haiti. The country is already organized around 10 (geographically-based) departments that would serve as natural professional learning regions. A national event may be more challenging (e.g. costs and time involved with transportation) but utilizing digital technologies could overcome these challenges. For example, a national event could take place in a large city such as Port au Prince or Cap Haitien and web-cast to regional hubs. I am already familiar with a leadership conference which occurs in the United States which is simulcast in Port au Prince. A similar model, with a central conference and regional hubs, could be utilized in Haiti. If the event couldn't be simulcast (live), it could be taped and then distributed to the regional hubs for regional conferences scheduled a few weeks later.

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