Thursday, April 29, 2010

Building a Community with Bean Bags

The LOEP 2010 Training Workshop theme was "Building a Community of Learners". The theme spoke directly to the critically important role of educators in re-building the Liberian nation community broken by 25 years of political strife and 14 years of war. The workshop focused on how to begin building a community of learners by starting with the inclusive classroom. Teachers discovered that developing a community of learners is important to any educational environment whether that setting is an individual classroom, a school, or a teacher education program Teachers discovered how establishing a positive classroom environment can increase student success and learned how expanding the positive environment to include teachers and students as an entire school community working and learning together can enhance the learning experience for all. Broadening the learning community's reach into the homes of students to include families brings the learning experience into the surrounding community at large - a sort of ripple effect beginning with the classroom nucleus.
Liberian society and culture once consisted of strong, close-knit communities - nation of villages and extended family networks. That all changed with devastating war and now it is time to rebuild communities and restore a sense of community - that is, shared goals and shared commitment. Educators are at the forefront of the re-building process and re-building community is key to restoring lasting stability and peace in Liberia.
As LOEP trainers worked last year to develop the training workshop for 2010 we never imagined that such a wonderful example of communituy-building and mutual support would come to us through the Craft Hope bean bag project. When LOEP submitted our request to the crafting community for help in providing classroom bean bag sets for Liberian teachers, the crafting community responded instantly and generously. Bean bag sets are coming daily from all over the world. The amazing response is a beautiful example of how a community can work together to accomplish a common goal - in this case, enhancing classroom learning for Liberian students.
Craft Hope has provided LOEP teachers with a living example of community.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

International Bean Bags!

The Craft Hope project already has every appearance of being highly successful. We here at LOEP are so excited about this wonderful opportunity and yesterday we received the first bean bag delivery - all the way from Australia! We have word of more coming from that continent and of some contributions from folks in Spain, Netherlands and even, possibly, Russia!

What an extraordinary Social Studies lesson for all of us!

These are the first Bean Bag arrivals!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meet the ToTs

Meet the TOTS!

This group is preparing to take over LOEP!
One of the main goals of the LOEP Training Team has always been to work ourselves out of a job. Yes, as much as we love to come to Liberia and hang out with our friends here, we have focused the training and planning on helping our colleagues become the trainers themselves. These eight (8) teachers (pictured here at the end of a long week of training) are the LOEP Trainers of Teachers (ToTs) who will be busy in the coming year working together using LOEP training kits to develop their own workshop sessions. Periodically throughout the year they will prepare and present to their colleagues an in-service program highlighting a concept and/or technique they have learned over the past two years in LOEP workshops. The sessions will help prepare them to train their colleagues and peers who teach orphans and vulnerable children in Liberia.

Mrs. Rosa Allen, Principal at Lott Carey Mission School, is the coordinator of the ToT group. She will be organizing regular meetings for ToTs to get together and share ideas and observations about training. Next year, the LOEP training team will be working closely with the ToTs developing workshop skills and techniques.
LOEP will continue to support the ToTs, sending training materials, providing new education resources and conducting refresher workshops.
"Train one, train many" is how one of our Liberian friends explained the LOEP concept of shared knowledge and shared vision.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bean Bags for Liberia!

LOEP teachers will soon have a new tool in their classroom instruction toolkit thanks to Craft Hope! A wonderful network of crafters who are dedicated to making changes for the good in this world have volunteered to make bean bags for LOEP to send to classrooms in Liberia!

Check out this link

Thanks to Craft Hope and all the great crafters who have volunteered to bring a new dimension to classroom teaching and learning in Liberia!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Teacher Tools

The typical Liberian teacher's toolkit is basically limited to chalk and blackboard. Classroom supplies and instructional materials are in very short supply in Liberia. Teachers have very few posters, books, maps or art materials and no instructional games or AV equipment to enhance their their teaching. Teachers struggle to engage children in learning, mainly through lecture and blackboard notes.

LOEP teacher training introduces some teaching tools but we are always mindful that materials are not readily available in Liberia - either too expensive or simply not available at all. Over the years we have worked with LOEP teachers in discovering ways to use basic supplies that we can provide for them. For example, LOEP teachers now make their own flash cards using index cards and/or construction paper and markers. Here in the U.S. most of us grew up with flash cards (purchased, pre-printed ones)as an instructional tool in the classroom. Now that familiar tool is becoming a regular teaching aid in classrooms where LOEP teachers work. Thanks to the generosity of LOEP supporters who shop back-to-school sales, LOEP includes large quantities of index cards and markers in all school supply shipments to teachers in Liberia. When those simple materials are inexpensively and readily available in Liberia, teachers will know exactly how to make best use and can go beyond chalk and blackboard.