These last two weeks, all the teachers at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy have been participating in teacher training. It was a time for new teachers to meet old teachers, to talk about mission and purpose and vision, and to plan the new year.
Some of the activities that the teachers did included comparison of MAAA style with traditional style teaching, and out of the box thinking for the monthly themes. The first activity, the comparison of teaching styles, the teachers were instructed to make a list of things they had learned in college about how to teach, what teachers do… anything related to education. They were then asked to make a second list… how does the Academy differ from what they were taught? Some of the important differences our teachers pointed out was that they were told to always give homework; at the Academy, homework should serve a purpose beyond filling time. Another difference was that they were taught that the teacher is the sole source of knowledge; here they recognize that their students also have ideas and experiences and things to share with the class.
The second activity allowed the teachers to brainstorm ideas for the monthly themes, using experiences from their own lives. The monthly themes recognize many of the social issues present in Guatemala, such as health and ecology, machismo, women’s right and indigenous rights. The teachers first thought of events or experiences from their own lives, which they thought were wrong or negative. Examples included young children working as candy sellers on the streets, teenage pregnancy and exploitation of children, and people throwing trash in the streets. These individual experiences were then put into categories, such as children’s rights and health and ecology. They will be used as a starting ground for classroom discussions and learning about the reality that our students see every day!