Sandals Foundation/Great Shape Inc! 'Teach the Teacher' programme returnsThursday, July 29, 2021
WESTMORELAND, Jamaica - Following the first-ever one-year break in the 'Teach The Teacher' training programme, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, through its agency the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC), and the Sandals Foundation are pleased to welcome volunteers from the Great Shape! Inc, humanitarian group, to help educators navigate the new blended approach to learning.
Since 2015, the Sandals Foundation has facilitated the United States-based non-profit hosting annual teacher training workshops to build the capacity of educators from rural communities in the areas of language arts, classroom behavioural management and computer skills.
On Monday, July 19, the carefully coordinated workshops began under strict COVID-19 protocols and are scheduled to last until July 30th at the Godfrey Stewart High School in Savanna-la-Mar, Mondays to Fridays between 8:30 am and 3:00 pm.
Georgene Crowe, co-founder of Great Shape! Inc, says close to 50 volunteers have arrived to serve. “In all three areas we have added components to help teachers reintegrate students into the classroom and find out what their social/emotional needs might be after so much time away from a regular classroom setting. From an academic and behaviour management perspective, we will also model how to use brain breaks and movement to help students improve their learning as well as their attention stamina.”
Also added to this year's agenda, Crowe noted, are classes in “Online Tips and Tricks”. “Volunteers will teach the components of Google Classroom as well as how to construct online lessons, techniques in online behaviour management as well as how to utilise and integrate specialised software and websites for and in their lessons,” said Crowe.
Brad Adams, founder and co-director IT for both “Teach the Teacher” and “Superkids”, another programme of Great Shape! Inc, says there is great opportunity to develop computer skills in remote schools, especially with the onset of virtual classrooms.
“The world has been turned upside down, students are disconnected, and the education gap has increased between the haves and have-nots. It is our job, as volunteers with Great Shape! Inc to do what we can to help Jamaican teachers develop the techniques they need to reconnect with their students and deliver the materials required to get back on track and move forward,” he said.
Computer training sessions will explore basic computer skills, the creation of multimedia projects and presentations, Google Suite (Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets) training, as well as computer safety and cybersecurity topics including virus, malware, phishing, and fraud prevention.
With the Ministry of Education's policy directive indicating a probable reopening of schools in September, chief executive officer at Jamaica Teaching Council, Dr Winsome Gordon, says, “The Teach The Teacher Programme provides a welcome avenue through which some of our island's most needed educators can develop or sharpen their skills to adequately navigate the new blended teaching/learning approach that will undoubtedly characterise the future of our education sector.”
“As we continue to get digital devices in the hands of students to ensure no child gets left behind, we are equally committed to ensuring our island's teachers are sufficiently capable of utilising the technology to develop their lessons, enhance their delivery and inspire students to confidently thrive in this digital world. We are pleased to have the Great Shape! team rejoin us to help make this possible,” says Dr Gordon.
Heidi Clarke, executive director at the Sandals Foundation, also expressed gratitude for members and volunteers of the Great Shape! team for their continued commitment to the Caribbean and for the support of the Ministry of Education in helping to make the mission possible.
“The Ministry of Education has been an amazing partner, helping us step by step to navigate the unique developments that have characterised recent times, and we are extremely thankful for its support. Over the years, the Great Shape! Inc team has trained hundreds of teachers and now, we are happy to be able to bolster the incredible efforts of our local educators who have been doing an amazing job during these tough times,” said Clarke.
All volunteers have been vaccinated and have undergone multiple tests to ensure the safety of the participants and the wider community.
Sandals Resorts International and the Sandals Foundation have been a major partner of Great Shape! Inc for 17 years. The company and its philanthropic arm provide all logistical support for the volunteer missions across the Caribbean by providing free accommodation as well as covering the cost of transportation, meals at workshops, venue rental when required and other needs.
In addition to the educational initiatives, Great Shape! Inc also seeks to empower Caribbean families by hosting free eye, dental and general health-care services.
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