Exchanging Ideas in Haiti – 2015 Educator ExchangeRich Stigall
A single flickering light bulb sways silently overhead as 25 students, packed shoulder to shoulder, stare wide-eyed at their 6th grade teacher as he slowly reaches into his desk drawer. It’s 10 AM at IMEL Primary School in Marmalade, Haiti and already the temperature outside is soaring into the high eighties. Morning rays of light streak through the ventilated block wall at perfect 45 degree angles, scorching everything in their path. Students squeeze into tight rows of shared desk space as beads of perspiration cling precariously to their brows. The air shifts, a slight breeze cuts through the musty room causing every neck to crane in its direction.
Ordinarily, these conditions would make for a difficult learning environment, however, today every eye is locked in, riveted in place as Mr. Daceus stands in front of his 6th grade class slowly raising his hand, revealing a seemingly ordinary Coke® bottle top. To many bystanders the significance of this moment might escape them however, to those that participated in the 2014 Educator Exchange in Gonaives, Haiti this moment represents a significant shift in how children are taught at Marmalade Primary School.
Mr. Daceus walks to the middle of the room as his students shuffle around him, vying for a better vantage. Placing the bottle top on the center most desk, he reaches into his pocket and produces five more. Children in a huddled mass, press in around him as he begins to speak. Mr. Daceus is teaching number association through visual learning. By grouping the bottle tops in different orders, he shows his class how numbers correspond to one another in ratios. Typically teaching through rote memorization, Mr. Daceus is utilizing a teaching method that he learned just weeks earlier at a GO Project sponsored Educator Exchange. Not only is he implementing a new visual learning technique, he is also teaching his students to use whatever resources are available as tools, even something as seemingly insignificant as a bottle top can serve an educational purpose. Seeing his 6th grade class so responsive and absorbed in today’s lesson, Mr. Daceus decides to add this tactic to his growing list of teaching techniques.
What is an Educator Exchange? An Educator Exchange is a gathering of teachers from different cultures and countries who come together in order to share ideas and learn from one another. Each year a different GO Project School Partner organizes and hosts a 4 day Exchange in their home town. Invitations are extended to both the surrounding GO Project Partner Schools as well as a small group of American teachers.
This August, two Educator Exchanges are being planned. One in Croix-des-Bouquets from August 10 to 16, and the other held in the Northern town of Marmalade from August 16 to 23.
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