|Teacher Training: a Reference Manual (Peace Corps, 1986, 176 p.)|
|Chapter 3 collaboration|
|Tapping human resources|
Efforts to improve teaching conditions in developing countries start with human resource development Two of the most difficult tasks related to human resource utilization are:
° making do with limited or insufficient resources, and
° knowing how to tap the resources available.
Given the critical shortage of resources in most developing countries, dealing with the first task is most often an exercise se in frustration. Because of the lack of trained manpower and expertise, most developing countries rely heavily on foreign assistance to meet their manpower needs, Understandably, qualified people are often overextended, underpaid, and difficult to recruit for the smallest of tasks. Even so, the fact remains that many vital projects never get off the ground no: for lack of qualified people, but for lack of knowledge about how to tap the human resource pool.
How do we tap our human resources to the greatest advantage? The following section presents some ideas about collaboration with colleagues. Some of these ideas can be tried by teacher-trainers; others might be more suitable for teachers or Peace Corps Volunteers in the field. The point here is that all types of collaboration such as these should be encouraged whenever and wherever possible.
Most developing countries host In-Service Training sessions, usually in the form of subject-specific national teachers' conferences. These provide an excellent opportunity to meet other teachers experiencing similar problems. They also provide an opportunity to discuss and present new ideas, make recommendations to the ministry regarding educational policies and practices, and form networks. One important role such conferences play is modeling -- by following the format of lectures, presentations and workshops typically found at national teachers' conferences, teachers can return to their assigned towns and organize similar activities. For example, if there are five English teachers in one town, they can organize their own "mini-conference" in a local school and share teaching methods, materials, and ideas.
Because academic standards can vary dramatically from town to town, and because of the shortage of qualified inspectors in most developing countries, the most available qualified consultants are often local teachers. Not only do they have the "hands on" experience and expertise in their fields, but because their children, neighbors and friends attend the schools in which they teach, they also have a vested interest in the improvement of educational standards. The formation of advisory groups to consult with other teachers, school administrators, members of parents' associations, and local officials can open the lines of communication and the channels of material and human resource exchange.
Most teachers are understandably threatened by any outsider who comes and observes their classes. However, there is enormous value in being observed and critiqued, if for no other reason than to get one or two new ideas about teaching. One method of encouraging classroom observation is to ask a colleague whose opinion you respect to come observe and critique your lesson. At first, most host country nationals resist such ideas since they are reluctant to insult the expatriate "expert." But if the invitation is posed respectfully and sincerely, and if a certain level of trust already exists, host country nationals will often oblige you. In this way, you will serve as a model which can then be followed by your colleagues. You also experience the additional advantage of having your own teaching style observed by a resident expert.
An important thing to remember about classroom observation is that critiquing does not mean criticizing in the negative sense. Simply describing what you saw, reinforcing positive elements and inquiring about questionable ones can constitute more feedback than the teacher has received since he/she left the teacher training college (see Feedback/ Critiquing below).
Another approach to in-class collaboration is team teaching. If a teacher is unwilling to observe or be observed, perhaps he/she might be willing to co-teach a class with you. For example, if you are teaching "story telling devices" in an English class, one of your English-speaking colleagues might be able to relate some local history using the same device. Likewise, if you are presenting a geometry lesson on circles and circumferences, a science teacher might be recruited to illustrate with drawings or models of planets, moons or stars. Or perhaps more simply, you can ask another teacher to co-teach a class with you on an ongoing basis -- an exercise which would facilitate team research, lesson planning, teaching, testing, and observation,
Of all the teachers' conferences you have ever attended, what session made the greatest impact on you? How was the session presented? Could you or one of your colleagues present it or adapt it so that it could be presented to teachers at your school? How?
2. Are any of your colleagues currently teaching subjects which relate to the subject(s) you are teaching? How could the two subjects be taught jointly?