Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dusting off the blog as I'm back in Yemen

Amber Prentice, SPFT member and AFT ELL Cadre member, and I are in Yemen to teach groups of teachers from both the official teacher’s union and the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate. We spent a lot of time during our flight from Frankfurt to Sana’a reshaping our lessons on classroom management, time on task, and teacher praise and still I am filled with questions about how it will go.

I would have liked time to observe more classrooms and talk to more teachers when I was here last to truly get an idea of where these teachers are starting and, therefore, what they need. Most of what we plan on teaching should be universally applicable but still I have questions. What sort of behavior do they see? What are typical methods of controlling behaviors now? What sort of barriers do students have to understanding lessons? How disparate are the abilities in a classroom of 80 students? How effective is any classroom management strategy in a classroom built for 30 holding 80+ students? I suppose I could just ask a choir, science, or physical education teacher in St. Paul some days.

At its most basic, the goal of these teacher unions is parallel to ours: Make the union the place you go to become professionally supported and enriched. Make the union the place you go to hold conversations that improve your individual classroom work as well as advance our profession. Ultimately, if that is what we have in common, then those questions above can be tackled during our training. I’m looking forward to learning the answers and sharing our conversations

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