High level training for Belizean educators culminates today

Over a hundred teachers from different parts of the country participated in a two days workshop held in the City of Belmopan at the UB Gymnasium. Teachers from across the country received a compact two day training course on strategies and structures that has been developed by internationally acclaimed author and researcher Dr. Kagan. Kagan's over two hundred active engagement strategies know as Kagan Structures is used in over thirty countries. Jenny Tzul is a first form teacher of English and Literature at Muffles High school.

Jenny Tzul, Teacher, Muffles High School
This is not the first time I am exposed to the Kagan structure; I already had used this structure in my class in the various schools that I have been teaching at. So I as a teacher can definitely tell you that it does work, the kids arte engaged, they are focused and we have participation. Literature is one of the subjects that the kids don’t really like because of the reading. For my first formers at Muffles College, I can safely say that they are very engaged when it comes to wanting to do literature and reading the text books and analyzing and using critical thinking. So I can safely say that this workshop is very productive, not only in capacitating us to do a good job in the classroom, but also to implement the structures and go beyond than just the traditional teacher.

Kagan’s structures work towards accelerating achievement, reducing the performance gap, improve social skills, reduce discipline problems, and make teaching and learning more enjoyable for both teachers and students. Jamie Usher, is the Vice Principal at Belize High school and a first form science teacher.

Jesse Mendoza, PlusTV Journalist
Have you personally exercises these strategies within your classroom?

Jamie Usher, Principal, Belize High School
Yes it has been a lot of fun bringing it. Like I said there are two hundred fifty different structures, today we learnt about fifteen and even with those fifteen, some of the most engaging part of learning the fifteen is that they don’t require any huge amount of preparation, they are easy and they are fairly cheap in terms of what materials you need to conduct them, but the payoff is enormous.

Jesse Mendoza
Explain in more details one of the structures.

Jamie Usher
The premise is that each student is numbered, you have groups of four and everyone gets a number, there are team building exercises and there are class building exercises. To develop the team, it means that you get to know one another, so they learn the fun stuff - they’re favorite food, color, subject in school, etc. One of the structures is the Rally Robin, which is simply just like a volleyball rally back and forth and the students will share brief answers about themselves. The bottom line is communication. I think when a student doesn’t learn in school that means that the student hasn’t communicated with the teacher, because if you know your students then you can use a medium that they will understand. For example if your student likes music, then the teacher can teach that student from that medium; also, if a students like sports, then the teacher can teach triangle based on basketball positions.

Santa Elena Primary school was used as the first model school where Kagan's structures and strategies were implemented with Belize Elementary and Belize High school being next in line. Plus news spoke with Principal of Santa Elena Primary School, Manuel Medina Sr. who told us how the program worked in his school.

Manuel Medina Sr., Principal, Santa Elena Primary School
Ms. Abigail Wade introduced this program to us. We started what we call a teacher-leadership program because teaching is dynamic and there are so many things that are evolving.

Jesse Mendoza
How has this program been working within your school itself?

Manuel Medina Sr.
I guess you are familiar with the traditional way of teaching in the classroom, whereby it becomes chaotic if basic things are not structured. A teacher may be delivering a lesson and then there might be children playing and the teacher would say ‘Please be quite sit down’ or things like that. Or the teacher might say ‘Can anyone give me the answer for this’ and things like that. With this program, everything is structured and well timed and everyone has to be attentive because they are engaged; we do not shout, because everything is well structured. So that is helping our school right now.

The training concluded today.