“Virtually there”: Making online training ‘real’ for Caribbean literacy coaches – what governments can do

Michelle McAnuff-Gumbs


Questions prevail regarding the viability of the online training mode, often referred to as virtual teacher training, for preparing effective literacy coaches. Virtual teacher training programs are those that deliver instruction using distance learning technologies, primarily the internet along with the dissemination, collaborative and interactive tools it affords. Vaishali (2006) had indicated, on the accreditation of Western Governors’ University’s online-only teacher training programme by the U.S. National Association for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), that when the programme was first proposed people “scoffed at the idea that teachers could be trained from scratch virtually (p. 1). Sawchuk (2009) notes that many stakeholders still believe that teacher training delivered online “is less rigorous than that offered face-to-face” (p. 1). Even with accreditation, some still view virtual training as subpar (Schintz, as cited in Vaishali, 2006).

Can online programs then truly equip literacy coaches with the expert knowledge and procedure competence required for effective functioning in school and clinical settings? The International Reading Association (2004) notes a recent shift in the role of reading specialists “away from direct teaching and toward leadership and professional development” (p. 1). Reading specialists are increasingly being expected to act as coaches and must, during training, gain access to the shared knowledge of the field as well as to practical experiences that will allow them to execute as well as guide others in executing literacy best practices. Coaches must be capable of working alongside teachers to ensure that there is quality ‘first teaching’ as well as improvement in practice where necessary. They must therefore be excellent reading and writing instructors and ardent believers in the practices they promote (IRA, 2004). Specialists must be able to model best practices as well as foster improvement in practice.

With the new shift in required competence, what can online course developers do to ensure that teachers are exposed to the type of training that can potentially make them effective? Given the potential of online training for increasing the pool of literacy practitioners, what can governments and higher education institutions do to ensure that coaches access high-quality, locally-relevant training that would allow them to meet IRA’s (2004) Gold Standard for literacy coaches?

The Online Training of Literacy Coaches in UWI’s Open Campus

One assumption behind online training of literacy coaches is that teachers, because they are already situated in teaching contexts, will apply practices learned through the virtual environment to their own instructional contexts. Coaches in training are strategically positioned to test the viability of instructional practices (and astutely designed coursework ensures such proofing takes place). Can coursework ensure that teachers undertake such testing of strategies learned, and with appropriate levels of enthusiasm and commitment? Vaishali (2006) outlines the rigorous process undertaken Western Governor’s University to ensure that each that trainees are appropriately mentored by experts in their respective fields; that student- teachers are afforded practical experiences in real classrooms; that their teacher-training programs feature essential components and offerings; that programs are competency-driven and assessment-based; that, ultimately, the University provides a “solid foundation” upon which teachers can operate as successful professionals. Capella and Kaplan are cited as other examples of universities delivering successful online teacher-training programs.

The University of the West Indies Open Campus’ (OC’s) Masters’ of Education in Literacy Education is no less rigorous. Sawchuk (2009) lauds the facilitated mode employed by the Open Campus (OC) as being aligned with research on effective online training, especially with regard to its emphasis on “continued, sustained engagement in content with peers” and with expert facilitators/mentors, a provision that augers well for positive change in teacher learning and behavior change (p. 2). Richardson (2004,) in his report on teacher training in the Caribbean, indicates that the University of the West Indies’ Open Campus, under the direction of the Instructional Development Unit, is not only delivering first-class teacher training but also “utilizes cutting- edge technologies in the delivery of programs in teacher education” (p. 33).

We have indeed come a long way since the Koul (2002) determination, upon review the training infrastructure available in 17 English-speaking Caribbean countries, that infrastructure in place was inadequate to support virtual higher education. Six countries in our region now rank in the top 58 territories in terms of internet penetration rate: Antigua and Barbuda (17th); Bermuda (21st); St. Lucia (33rd); Barbados (38th); St. Vincent and the Grenadines (43rd); Jamaica (53rd).1 Richardson (2004) indicates that adoption of newer technologies has facilitated more extended interaction that feature multiple dialogues between students and expert facilitators; greater use of new tools such as virtual classrooms with phone-in capacities, online conferencing, synchronous chats, wikis, blogs and ever popular learning forums to facilitate meaningful content learning. Augmentation of reading materials with flexible use of multimedia resources such as videos and podcasts, mostly “borrowed”, has given an extra boost to this format. Additionally, there is greater flexibility in training (time and space) and increased freedom of student expression has been achieved. Students can anonymously comment on the quality of programs and on whether programs meet their needs as practitioners. These provisions have done much to improve training quality.

All these territories have accessed training opportunities through the Open Campus (OC) training network. Additionally, much development has taken place in terms of increasing the region’s capacity to offer competitive virtual teacher-training programs, especially since the UWIUNESCO Caribbean University Project for Integrated Distance Education (CUPIDE), undertaken between 2003 and 2007 (Marrett, 2009). Through CUPIDE’s central portal, teacher training institutions can collaborate to provide online programs and can work collectively toward the strengthening of training facilities and institutional research.

Worthy of note is the fact that programs offered through the OC network already draw on the three layers of facilitator expertise proposed by Dodero et al (2007) as being crucial for online training success. Courses are conducted by a group of facilitators comprising university professors, curriculum and assessment specialists from Ministries of Education, personnel from our regional quality control and professional development group (CETT, for instance, which liaises continually with practitioners in the classroom), as well as school practitioners with advanced training.

Still, are such provisions adequate? How can the University ensure continued improvement of the quality of its online teacher training programs, especially those geared at inducting literacy professionals into literacy best practices? How can we ensure that we train competent and enthusiastic instructional coaches? How can the virtual environment be optimized to create the kind of learning space that can truly facilitate a transfer of practices learned? To be effective, instructional coaches must believe that the exemplary practices to which they are being exposed can actually work in their context and that they will be successful at inducting teachers into these practices. Has the programme in its first year of delivery been able to accomplish this feat? If not, what mechanism can be put in place by the Open Campus and other key players to ensure that teachers are open to and will readily incorporate best practices into their teaching and professional development repertoire?

Allowing students to interact with mentors with a high level of expertise in literacy, who are able to foster appropriate dispositions, and who spread across the three spheres (teacher trainers; policy makers and curriculum experts) is one method already employed and, certainly, allowing teachers to observe displays of best practices as executed by expert teachers in successful instructional settings is an essential starting. The Open Campus Instructional Development Unit has already proven its worth in terms of overseeing the development of quality training text resources that pinpoint key competencies for development in trainees, and course developed are quite solid in terms of content. Are these provisions enough? Online conversations between facilitators and trainees indicate that such provisions might not adequate.

Research Questions

  1. What do conversations between facilitators and trainee (and which surround training in literacy best practice) reveal about trainee willingness to and sense of agency in applying best practices?
  2. What provisions do trainees believe must be put in place to ensure that they readily transfer best practices learned in virtual environment to real-life teaching and professional development situations?
  3. What training and resource provisions can be put in place by key players to ensure adequate transfer?


The study draws on online conversations between four expert facilitators and a group of 77 teacher trainees from the various Caribbean territories served by the University of the West Indies Open Campus. Students enrolled in a Best Practices in Literacy course were exposed to four learning modules each comprising 3 units. Models centered on best practice linked to key components of emergent and conventional literacy as well as on exemplary practice in the design of stimulating physical, social and intellectual climate to augment literacy learning. Each instructional unit focused on one of the following: (1) instructional frameworks geared at developing key domains of literacy in a core (developmental) literacy programme, (2) techniques and approaches to designing effective literacy learning environments, or (3) tiered intervention structure for delivering remedial programs as linked to core instruction.

A typical unit comprised two sessions, the first focused on the research foundations of the best practices outlined in the second session. Emphasis was primarily on exemplary “first teaching”, with some attention to the effective design and delivery of remedial instruction in a three-tier framework linking core (first teaching) with secondary and tertiary/intensive instruction. Students were bombarded with images of successful practices at work in effective classrooms. Under the guidance of renowned literacy icons, mostly through webcasts and podcasts, students learned the principles underlying the practices. Additionally, students engaged with facilitators in weekly learning dialogue centering on that week’s content. The instructional content and delivery format, as designed, seemed quite solid, coincided with IRA standards (2010) for training literacy professionals, and was approved as such by the Instructional Development Unit.

Methodology and Conceptual Framework

A socio-cognitive lens was used to examine the learning conversations engaged in by students as they interact with expert instructors and their peers in asynchronous discussions surrounding exemplary literacy practices conveyed through the modules. The aim was to unearth trainees’ reaction to the new content and to examine the extent to which they display the kind of agency that could potentially prompt transfer of practices learned to their own teaching and professional development contexts.

Much support exists for the kinds of assumptions made in the conversational analysis, that is, that examination of conversational propositions during group interaction and learning can provide insights into the thinking processes of individuals and ultimately into their propensity to act (See Bandura, 1986). Additionally, Hill eta al (2009) acknowledge a trend toward using social learning perspectives as frames for examining the quality of thinking and learning promoted in web-based environments. Because effective online learning typically utilizes vibrant synchronous and asynchronous interaction during which understandings of content are negotiated and knowledge co-constructed, learning conversations may be viewed as living artifacts that can potentially unveil the thought processes undertaken by coaching trainees as they come to terms with new and innovative best practices in literacy in learning/mentoring forums (Florio-Ruane & Morrell, 2004; Mazur, 2004). Mazur (2004) refers to “virtual conversations as potentially rich sources of data about how on-line learning, instruction, or work may occur”, indicating that such discourse can reveal much about the cognitive processes involved in the learning process (p. 1081).

Using a social learning lens, then, the study examines students’ text-based online typed-in talk in order to unveil their reactions to best practices, to illuminate the challenges and opportunities that arose out of attempts at inducting teachers into cutting-edge literacy best practices, and to lend freedom to student calls for improvement in attempts at fostering emulation of best practices on their part even with what they deemed an excellent course. Steps taken in conducting this basic conversation analysis involved an extraction of key propositions (in student utterance), and which might indicate their reactions to and level of willingness to implement exemplary practices to which they were being exposed. Patterns across utterances were observed and trends in the conversation revealed. The results of this process are outlined below. See Appendix A for the raw data.

Findings and Conclusions

Suggestions from the data are that even when teachers in the Caribbean context are exposed to images of innovative best practices and even when they are appropriately mentored by experts, they still harbored a sense of disbelief that practices learned can actually work in their context. Even amidst admiration for the utility of such practices, students still communicate a lack of agency and willingness to try new practices.

Upon examination of the dialogue, it was observed that reactions tended to move in a particular direction as students came to terms with practices to which they were being exposed. A movement from awe to skepticism or doubt that strategies can work in Caribbean contexts, given contextual mismatches, was at first evident (“I was very impressed with the organization and sequencing of each of the lessons in the videos. However, I would like to know if…”). Such thinking is also exposed in expressions such as “It’s difficult to carry out”, “…it would be a bit challenging to…?”; “… (we) have to dream about preferred arrangement”. This was followed by, upon facilitator prompting, a ferreting out of possible solutions to address situational mismatches (“I am pleased that our facilitators nudge us to find ways to contextualize these ideas.”). Reactions then transitioned to calls for Caribbean exemplars and, upon students being presented with Caribbean images of successful practices and effective classrooms, a sense of hope and, finally, eagerness to act despite challenges (“It has inspired me to go beyond…”.); “I have a deep desire to do the same”; “I am encouraged to create a different class climate”) to enjoys the challenges as well as the results (“So many of the things I learned in that course I have managed to implement and I must say THEY WORK.” “By the end of the day I am covered in chalk dust, my voice is gone, my legs are weak and my fingers are blistered. But I rest and my voice returns, my legs are stronger, my blisters heal and I am ready for the day ahead...It's worth it.2 Still, student reaction to print and multimedia resources presented in the course is then quite warranted, and their repeated call for “Lights! Camera! Action!”, quite telling. There appears to be some reluctance on the part of students to apply strategies they view as being more workable in privileged contexts and which are in “a sharp contrast to (their) own Caribbean experience”, and a desire to experience Caribbean-based exemplars before taking the “risk” of implementation. It may be that while “simulated” experiences presented in “borrowed videos” may allow for exposure and reflection (the preliminary steps in observation learning), doubts on the part of trainees regarding the applicability of such practices to Caribbean context will still linger if practices are depicted in more privileged settings. Thus, conversational snippets illustrate the need for the region to develop its own repository of high-quality, home-designed resources illustrating cutting-edge best practices involving Caribbean literacy practitioners working with Caribbean students (so that trainees can move beyond being “impressed” with depiction of successful classrooms practices to being “absolutely impressed!” as one student indicates).

It is possible that the situation, at present, may not allow students to project themselves into images of best practices viewed in the virtual space and thus to readily superimpose such practices onto their context. Online teacher trainers and course designers may need to seriously consider populating the space with localized resources in much the same way that teachers in face-to-face settings create classroom displays using localized and student-created materials in a bid to foster ownership and personal connections. Bandura’s socio-cognitive theory maintains that students must approve of practices and must (due to a desire to minimize anxiety) perceive behaviors as viable and desirable in achieving specific outcomes if they are to readily emulate such behaviors.

It must be made clear that the aim of the study is not to promote blind insularity or what Irvine (2003) refers to as a “not-from-here syndrome”, but rather to proposed that populating the learning space with resources that foster a sense of ownership and identification (because students see themselves and their students in images projected) can foster a greater need to act on the part of instructional coaches in training. While online courses provide an economically viable way of meeting the training needs of Caribbean territories and can, in fact, place depictions of the latest best practices “right at the doorsteps” of Caribbean nations, multi- media resources presented must truly address the teaching demands of our contexts and must acknowledge Caribbean literacy teaching and learning challenges. Teachers must, as they have clearly articulated, experience images displaying best practices that work in their contexts and with which they can readily identify if they are to truly integrate these experiences into their own repertoire of practices. As long as images reflect more privileged contexts, doubts will linger. Showing a student a “perfect model” estranged from their own context will not necessarily achieve the transfer we desire.

Our teachers must view the best and be taught by the best but they must also believe that these practices ARE BEST for their context. Potentials for training are enormous; however, funds must be invested in creating resources that illustrate best practices that work for Caribbean teachers working with Caribbean students. Irvine (2003), in assessing potential and possibilities for optimization of online training in the English- speaking Caribbean, indicate a need for regional cooperation in the development of shareable resources to be used in the long run, even though expedience might dictate the use of borrowed “borrowed” resources in the short term.

Recommendations – Toward and Online Regional Multi-media Repository

As indicated by the data, exposure to cutting-edge best practices creates in teachers a sense of initial disbelief and often results in cognitive distancing from best practices. Such disbelief must be offset by exposure, not only to competent facilitators who can steer teacher thinking, but also to context-based exemplars of best practice. Online repositories such as Teachscape and ITeach provide examples of ways in which governments in partnership with teacher training institutions and master teachers can collaborate to place at the disposal of teachers, images of best practice in action in their own contexts. Dodero et al (2007) underscores the need for a “localization” of resources available to teachers during training, indicating a need to harness local expertise in creating resources to stock a web-based repository with which such teachers can engage.

Creating and maintaining such a resource is the least one can ask of our collective ministries of education if we wish to see improvements in teacher training online. Open-source environments such as Moodle can work for such an endeavor as this option would eliminate licensing expenses. CaribNet’s capacity to host such a repository can also be explored. Teachers who have already been trained and those being trained are already expected to apply practices in their context. Ministries can request that teachers document best practices as part of their tenure-seeking bid and that the best of these videos, once vetted by a select group of teacher trainers from designated universities, be uploaded to repositories for the training and mentoring of other teachers. Sessions can also be captured by roving CETT trainers and similarly vetted for inclusion in this repository. Additionally, assessment data, and materials produced by teachers and their pupils can be submitted to this collective storehouse.

Such a storehouse – one that is supported by a consortium of professionals – can stock searchable resources to be used by teachers in all English-speaking Caribbean territories. With this web-based repository in place, teachers can search for and find activities and practices as suggested by their peers. They can then seek to adopt practices ideas in their specific context and report back to the online community regarding their effectiveness. Online training programs developers could also pull from the repository in augmenting the content of courses designed for teacher training purposes. Such a provision appears to hold immense potential for changing teacher perception regarding the viability of new practices and can encourage transfer of such practices to actual teaching and professional development situations. Potentially, perceptions of the quality of online teacher training programs could improve as a consequence of this provision.

How would such as resource be mounted? While Dodero et al (2007) suggest three layers of expertise working to feed this repository, the current writer proposed four, with a ministry of education consortium group acting as the buffer layer for three main internal layers of such a task force. The first inner sphere, the conceptual layer, would comprise teacher-training professionals from higher education institutions. These parties would be, as suggested Dodero et al, the driving force behind the development of the virtual community, “guiding and supporting teachers to be trained, and those wishing to apply the methodology in classrooms” (p. 352). Given UWI Open Campus’ “trailblazing role” is promoting online teacher training, it seems that it could lead a consortium of universities at the conceptual layer. The conceptual layer would also coordinate training activities and take administrative roles in the supporting technologies. Our Universities already have the capacity to do this.

At the second inner sphere, or the continuous development layer, would reside master teachers. These professionals would document and share supporting materials from the classroom in which they work or to which they pay regular visit (“What I would like to see are videos of teachers in our region employing these practices.”). This layer would include personnel from the Caribbean Center of Excellence for Teacher Training (CETT), for instance. They would liaise with lecturers at university level (the conceptual layer) to receive guidance in research-based practices and principles as emanating from the literature.

The third inner sphere, or dissemination layer, would comprise regular teachers and teachers-in-training wishing to implement practices within their classes and who may wish to comment on the quality and relevance of resource and ideas pulled from the repository. These teachers would be encouraged to take an active role in the web-based community of practice. This is where the superimposed policy layer can prove instrumental. Policy makers in the respective ministries can put the wheels into motion through incentives and mandates that will give teachers the drive to engage in online communities and to consent to the documentation of their classroom work for potential inclusion in the regional repository. With such a repository in place, possibilities are boundless. Already our students are getting ideas (“Maybe we could do a couple together and forward them to the open campus so they can use them”; I think I will try to make my own videos in the future”).

The University of Belize has already undertaken efforts to share its teacher training resources with other countries. Collaborative portals for university professors and researchers have already been developed and organizations such as the Caribbean Examination Council, under a recent Commonwealth of Learning initiative, have shown that it is possible to pull teams together to create shareable resources. Irvine (2003) acknowledges that development of shareable regional resources can be executed most effectively using “a systematic approach to cooperation and collaboration” (p. 5). The role of the Association of Caribbean Universities, Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL), the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institutions (ACTI) and Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation Virtual Institute (LACCIR) can be explored. Several other supporting organizations do exist.3 We do have the expertise and the capacity to create such resources. We are not there yet but the prospects do look promising.


1 Internet World Statistics, 2010.

2 Quoted from an unsolicited email sent after completion of the course.

3 Resource Guide: Programs Related to Strengthening and Financing Higher Education in the Americas: http://www.oas.org/en/rowefund/ResourceGuideOnProgramsRelatedtoStrengtheningAndFinancingHigherEducationInTheAmericas.pdf


Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Dodero, G., Ratcheva, D., Stefanova, E., Miranowicz, M., Vertan, C., Musankoviene, V. (2007). The virtual training center: A support tool for teacher community. Technology-enhanced Learning. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/19/00/62/PDF/349-362.pdf.

Florio-Ruane, S., & Morrell, E. (2004). Discourse analysis: Conversations. In N.K. Duke & M.H. Mallette (eds.), Literacy research methodologies, pp. 46-61. NY: Guildford.

Hill, J.R., Song, L., & West, R.E. (2009). Social learning theory and web-based learning environments: A review of research and discussion of implications. The American Journal of Distance Education, 23, 88-103.

Irvine, D. (2003). Collaboration in distance education in the Caribbean: Potential and possibilities. Retrieved October 1, 2010 from http://www.col.org/speeches.

International Reading Association. (2004). The role and qualification of the reading coach. Newark, DE: IRA.

Marrett, C. (2009). Distance education and collaboration in the Caribbean. Paper presented at the Mapping the ICT Research Agenda and the FP7/ICT Awareness Workshop, UWI Mona Campus, March 19, 2009. http://euroafrica-ict.org.sigma-orionis.com/downloads/Awareness_Workshops/kingston/Christine%20Marrett.pdf

Mazur, J. M. (2004). Conversation analysis for educational technologists: theoretical and methodological issues for researching the structures, processes, and meaning of on-line talk. Retrieved October 15, 2010 from http://www.aect.org/edtech/ed1/40.pdf.

Richardson, A.G. (2004). Study of teacher training processes at universities and pedagogic institutions in the English-speaking Caribbean. Paper presented for UNESCO/IESALC International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Retrieved October 14, 2010 from http://www.glp.net/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=10413&folderId=12858&name=DLFE-1253.pdf.

Sawchuk, S. (2009). Teacher training goes in virtual directions. Education Week, 26(14), 8. http://bullyingcourse.com/file.php/1/Teacher_Training_Goes_in_Virtual_Directions.pdf.

Stephens, C., & McLeod, L. (2004). Responding to the need for resource materials through distance education: In pursuit of a collaborative model. Retrieved from http://pcf4.dec.uwi.edu/viewpaper.php?id=190.

Vaishali, H. (2006). Accreditation makes virtual teachers college “real” think. Education Week, 28(26), 22-24.

Internet World Statistics. (2010). Top 58 countries with the highest internet penetration rate. Retrieved from http://www.internetworldstats.com/top25.htm.

Appendix A

The Data: Highlights from the Conversations
Teacher comments of Video Vignettes – Best Practices Date Insights
Central Asia
I was very impressed with the organization and sequencing of each of the lessons in the videos… However, I would like to know if these are private schools… Also, I noticed the classes are small… Do you primary school teachers find that class size does play a major role when trying to achieve your objectives or planning your class activities? Maybe our Ministries of Education need to look at these factors as part of curriculum planning. 05/10/2010 Teacher is impressed; questions feasibility for public schools; teacher hopes policymakers are cognizant of gaps.
I endorse your sentiments about the sequencing of the teaching in the videos. The children have at their disposal attractive and appropriate resources…. I am the teacher of a Standard Two class of 25 students, with no assistant and inadequate resources to work with although some effort is made to design my own. I sincerely believe that the class size, the appropriateness and the adequacy of resources play a major role in the delivery of the Curriculum. Am I to believe that this is a Caribbean deficiency that has to be corrected; although I am fully aware that Caribbean Teachers are very creative in designing some resources, however, this exercise is time-consuming… 05/10/2010 Teacher notes gap; blames contextual issues; notes challenges posed to even the most creative of teachers; hopes for change.
Though I teach at the 1st, 4th and 5th form levels, seeing the videos has instill in me the desire to want to do more in terms of being more creative especially with the form one students 18/5/2010 Teacher is inspired to act.
We cannot allow our lack of, or limited supply of resources, to deter us from reaching within our creative minds to provide exciting, interesting and self rewarding activities for our students. Has anyone ever tried "Alphabet Checkers"? You construct a checkers board as for the normal checkers game… 19/5/2010 Teacher is willing to surmount challenges; makes suggestions.
These practices that have been tried tested and proven. I think that with our foundation training and background coupled with other practices, we can conquer any challenge that arises. 20/5/2010 Practices work; teachers can surmount challenges.
I have found the videos to be very helpful. I think our teachers will benefit from some of these activities. 20/5/2010 Adopting a coaching stances; want to share practices
The videos are extremely informative and provide a bank of supplementary teaching material. 22/5/2010 Videos are crucial coaching materials.
I found the videos very inspiring and a sharp contrast to my own Caribbean experience … 24/5/2010 Images are inspiring but at odds with the context.
Maybe we could do a couple together and forward them to the open campus so they can use them. They are rather interesting. 24/05/2010 We need to create our own and make them available for teachers/trainees.
I think I will try to make my own videos in the future. 26/05/2010 We need to capture our teaching in action.


The Data: Highlights from the Conversations
Teacher comments of Video Vignettes – Environment Date Insights
As I write this I shudder at the fact that some of the classrooms in which I taught were pigeon infested… 7/7 Challenges exist.
I think one of our greatest challenges is to find adequate space to set up our different learning centers. 12/07 Practices are difficult to execute given resources
It’s difficult to carry out Morrow's ideas in a Caribbean setting. I said to myself that this could never occur in the Caribbean setting 12/07 Practices are difficult to execute in our context
I believe that it would be a bit challenging to arrange the physical setting of our Caribbean classrooms in the manner that is suggested …. particularly as our classrooms are usually overcrowded and some of the facilities and physical structures mentioned are not readily available within our Caribbean context. 12/07 Practices are difficult to execute.
Our Caribbean classrooms do not have the space and equipment…. Practices are difficult to execute given resources
Although it may be a challenge creating such exemplary classroom it is quite feasible. 16/7 Best practices are feasible despite contextual challenges.
The various techniques for first grade literacy instruction as suggested might be a bit challenging to arrange the physical settings of our Caribbean classrooms as they are normally overcrowded, lack necessary resources and activity centers are small or non-existent 16/7 Best practices are challenging to execute.
Despite the challenges of limited classroom space and inadequate resources, we can still achieve exemplary literacy instruction within our schools similar to that highlighted 16/7 Exemplary instruction is possible despite challenges.
In looking at the majority of the videos one had the feeling of very efficient, very well run disciplined classrooms. There was no crowding of desks or of children. Teachers looked cool, fresh and in control. There was an encouraging arrangement of desks and working space. When the surrounding displays could be viewed. The entire room set up was clean, tidy, and appealing. Neat bulletin boards, black/white boards. Everything seemed to be properly put away. The students’ desks appeared uncluttered and tidy. In my county, the focus in most classrooms is in the arrangement of desks. At the end of the day, it is a matter of pragmatics, the best fit for the most desks wins out. Teachers we have to dream about preferred arrangements…. 16/7 Contextual challenges are still as reality; exemplary classrooms are a dream.
I very much admire the attractive classrooms in the resources, but the reality is that we are not privy to many of these resources and sometimes lack the finance, creativity or motivation to create them. In this regard, I am pleased that our facilitators nudge us to find ways to contextualize these ideas. What I would like to see are videos of teachers in our region employing these practices because I am sure there are some of us in this very group who are! LIGHTS...CAMERA...ACTION!!!! 17/7 What we are viewing seems to be at odds with our reality. If such practices are possible in our context, let us document them and have these exemplars available.
As you stated, perhaps one of our colleagues has such set up and can do such a video clip (time permitting). Lights ...camera...action...indeed !!! 7/7 Whomever is capable and has the resources should document for the rest of us

Post Image Sharing Comments

Post-Course Actions and Reactions: Insights Gathered

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© Michelle McAnuff-Gumbs

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