It is well known that Teachers, School Leaders, and Teacher Trainers are key actors in maintaining and improving education systems around the globe. At the school level, however, the teachers themselves are the most important factor affecting individual student performance. When teachers lack the training and skills necessary for managing a modern-day classroom it becomes impossible to maximize the potential of the students. Nowhere is this more apparent than throughout the developing world.
This past week I had the pleasure of attending the 56th annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) where teams from around the world gathered to share their experiences and ideas on the improvement of education systems. While I attended many fantastic presentations on a wide variety of topics, one session in particular stuck out to me as a fantastic resource for teachers. Team leaders from the Inter-American Teacher Education Network (ITEN) showed off their free-to-use professional network and development platform.
Funded by Organization of American States (Not US States but North American, Central American, South American, and Caribbean nation-states), ITEN provides a wide range of valuable resources for improving teacher performance. The ITEN site provides content in both English and Spanish through three primary methods. These include an online community, webinars, and a series of online courses.
The online community of ITEN was designed to encourage collaboration and interaction between teachers throughout the Americas. Monthly blogs address common issues affecting teachers and include topics anywhere from “Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education” to “how do some students overcome their socio-economic background”. Further discussions are encouraged on any teaching-related topic through their online forums and OAS community forums.
ITENs webinar series addresses relevant themes in the field of teacher education. From conflict resolution to ICT integration to effective classroom management, the webinars provide a wealth of information for teachers in their ongoing quest for professional development.
Last but not least, ITEN provides online courses focused on introducing ICT into the classroom using constructivist methods through student centered learning and collaborative project based learning. With all the 1:1 laptop initiatives currently rolling out or already in place, teachers, more than anything, need to learn how to effectively use these new technologies in their classroom.
ITEN is an ever-expanding set of resources and a solid community for teacher improvement that is available to anyone in the world. Best of all, it’s free! If you haven’t already heard of them, I’d suggest you check it out. For the school leaders and teacher trainers out there, please point your teachers at it. For those of us in the business of improving education systems, take a close look and see how you can integrate it into your projects.
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