Teachers2Teachers-International and the Sacatepéquez State Education Department helped Common Hope sponsor its first-ever conference for primary school educators on teaching math. Program staff from Antigua, New Hope, and other educational non-profits were invited, along with representatives from all six of Common Hope’s Partner Schools. There were 125 educators in attendance for the two-day conference. The Teacher2Teacher training team, who facilitated the workshops, included ten mathematics educators from three different countries: Guatemala, Canada, and the U.S. (including seven different states – NC, CA, NY, NM, TX, PA, OH). Daniela Lombardo, Director of Education Programs for T2T-I, remarked, “This event was the first of its kind: a space for international and local educators to explore the concept of students engagement in mathematics in the form of a professional conference.”
The focus of the conference was to provide teachers with concrete, practical tools for making math fun and more understandable in the classroom. The workshops were based on tools from the resource book “Principles to Action: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All,” published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (www.nctm.org/PtA) By using interactive games that engage the student in the learning process, students can learn mathematical concepts and have fun, too. Oscar Perez, a middle school math teacher with the organization Niños de Guatemala, reflected that “the tools we learned will help me strengthen and expand the way that I teach math to my students, especially using concrete materials that will make the content more accessible so that they can learn better.”
Linda Gojak, former president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, was the conference keynote speaker and kicked off the conference by asking everyone rethink how to teach math. She challenged the idea that if a student doesn’t do well in math, it must be because there is something inherently wrong with the student, instead of analyzing that there is something wrong with how it is being taught in the first place. She further reasoned that the best way to teach math is by connecting it to everyday life, helping math make logical sense, helping students recognize patterns and think mathematically. Maira Leticia Vázquez, teacher at Common Hope Partner School San Miguel Escobar Vespertina, said that
“Participating in the conference was very motivational because everyone has the myth that math is something ugly and that is what we have transmitted to our students because that is how we learned it. These types of workshops help us change our panorama. We can begin to make sense of math and are then able to transmit the concepts in a different way to our students.”
Hosting the Math Conference is part of Common Hope’s transition into Phase 2 of the Partner School Initiative. Phase 2 provides teachers with strategies to improve math and reading instruction, lesson planning and implementation of the national curriculum, and other resources authorized by the Ministry of Education. The Guatemalan Ministry of Education launched a new math program in 2006 called Guatemática, but there has been limited training and distribution of required materials. Common Hope has established a formal partnership with the Guatemala Ministry of Education to train and certify teachers in the Guatemática curriculum in 2016. You can learn more about Phase 2 of the Partner School Project in our Special Edition of the Fall Newsletter.
Daniela Lombardo also explained that T2T-I has plans to continue their partnership with Common Hope saying, “Teachers2Teachers-International had the pleasure of collaborating with Familias de Esperanza to provide an interactive learning experience for teachers in the Antigua area. We are eagerly planning and preparing to continue supporting teachers in 2016 through this partnership, and are excited to see all that is to come in the following months!”
Common Hope also looks forward to collaborating with T2T-I in the coming year as a way to provide more support to teachers, which in turn provides high-quality education to the students we serve. Thank you to T2T-I and to all of the great teachers who attended the conference. You can also read more about the T2T-I workshops on their blog.