I have spent the past week and a half in St. Lucia, 1/3 of that time spent in a conference on innovation in education, 1/3 spent in research team meetings, and another 1/3 spent exploring special education on the island.
First, the conference was the first Caribbean Education Innovation Forum. It was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Connection Grant. The purpose of the forum was to bring a variety of educational stakeholders from the Eastern Caribbean together to discuss innovation in education. There were seven countries involved (as well as four of us from Canada) and each country had a Ministry representative (i.e., a system leader), a principal, and a teacher. The two-day conference included a couple of keynote presentations and many break-out sessions. The value of the break-out sessions were in the variety of approaches: some were role-specific (e.g., all principals met), others were topic-specific (e.g., inclusive education), and others were country-specific (e.g., the three reps from a particular country met to debrief a topic). There were many, many rich conversations. There seemed to be good support for a follow-up step to include applying for a grant that would provide further opportunities for program-development and research on innovation in education.
Second, the research meetings included our International Development Research Council (IDRC) team which is exploring teacher innovation in St. Lucia and Haiti. The team met for two days to debrief the work that has been done over the past 1.5 years in these two contexts and to plan next steps. One action step that I will be contributing will be editing a special issue of a comparative and international education journal to focus on some of the research related to this project. There has been some good progress in St. Lucia and Haiti with teacher innovation projects. We are hoping to be able to leverage the forum we hosted at the beginning of the week and the work we have been doing in St. Lucia and Haiti to scale the Human Centered Design innovation projects in other contexts.
It has been a very productive week with excellent discussions, mobilization of information about current effective practices, and brainstorming on possibilities for the future.