York University professors Carl James and Andrea Davis are conducting a professional development program this week in Jamaica for Kingston College’s (KC) teachers.
The idea emerged from two research projects that collaborate to offer strategies for addressing violence in transnational contexts.
Over the past three years, the Youth and Community Development: A Transnational Approach to Youth Violence project brought together researchers from five Canadian universities and the University of the West Indies (Mona campus) as well as youth organizations in Canada and Jamaica to examine questions related to youth violence.
The research partnership relied on youth forums, focus groups and collaborative artistic productions to engage Canadian and Jamaican youths within their socio-political and geographical contexts and across their national borders.
“While presenting our findings on this project last March at the UWI, we had some conversations with the KC principal (David Myrie) and some teachers around professional development,” said James, director of the York Centre for Education and Community. “Given the fact that we have been talking about youth in Jamaica, we thought we could bring some of the research data and experience that we have had with these young men in Jamaica to help work with teachers at Kingston College to develop more effective educational pedagogy and curriculum and every such thing so that students could be a little more successful at a time when they should be concerned about the development of their students.”
The KC Old Boys Association Toronto chapter, which was established four decades ago, played a key role in facilitating the program.
“We are giving teachers an opportunity to augment their teaching skills and whatever knowledge they have,” said the local chapter director Alex “Frano” Francis. “As a chapter, we have always supported the school by raising thousands of dollars for various projects, including the refurbishment of the library and the breakfast and scholarship programs. We have never looked at teachers’ needs which we are doing for the first time through the ground breaking project.”
The 2012 recipient of the Ian Greene Award for teaching excellence, Davis said teachers need to be continually and actively engaged in their own learning to maintain standards of excellence.
“The purpose of this program is to facilitate a series of discussions with practicing teachers and administrators in order to arrive at a formulation of effective teaching practices grounded within the social and cultural context of schooling in Jamaica,” she said. “It’s expected that these discussions will reveal strategies related to specific pedagogical, curricular and content and program activities in subject areas including social studies, math and numeracy.”
Myrie, who has a Master’s degree in Educational Management, joined York University’s associate dean Celia Haig-Brown in delivering the opening remarks last Monday.
Consisting of a series of interactive, experiential and practical activities, teachers will explore, review and reflect on their instructive practices.
“By the end of the program, we anticipate that they will have created a workable, written action plan they can use in their teaching context, leading to improved student outcomes,” James said. “Teachers need this kind of professional development and they will find that further education will be useful for them.”
Participants will receive a certificate from York University and there will be six hours of follow-up instructions via distance learning.
“The program was designed by KC which is an all-male school, but the subject areas have global application and are equally pertinent to male and female students,” said Francis.
The all-male Kingston College was established in 1925 by Reverend Percival Gibson.