24 teachers, 150 kids, 8 volunteers, 5 interpreters, 98 degrees… Creativity was made for weeks like this!
In July, a team of eight volunteers with the American Friendship Foundation traveled down to Haiti to work with teachers on strategies to integrate creativity into the classroom. The team included Jeff Clark, Terry Clark, McKenzie Clark, Erica Stanislawski, Kenny Askew, Julia Smith, Rose Neese, and Kris Neese.
The program started with a two-day workshop for Haitian teachers. Twenty one teachers from Jehovah Nissi School and Institution Mixte Frère Silar, along with three future teachers from the HELP organization in Port-au-Prince, shared ideas around critical thinking, brainstorming, creativity, and the arts.
In Haiti, as in many other nations, the educational system is focused on rote memorization. When teachers can help their students to solve problems in creative ways and to think outside the box, they are planting seeds that will help this next generation of leaders to tackle larger issues like the environment, politics, and social justice.
Teachers are the conduit to get students thinking in new ways.
At the center of the training were a series of creative challenges hosted on www.kreyatif.org that provided the 24 teachers with a practical set of exercises (in Haitian Creole) to leverage in their classrooms.
Teachers were treated to an award ceremony at the end of the event where they received a certificate of completion for completing the training.
Following our professional development workshop, it was time to bring in 150 kids for a two-day “Creative Camp” and let our Haitian teachers test out their new skills!
It was amazing to watch how quickly the entire group adapted to the concepts around critical thinking. The teachers taught with authority and confidence, and you could see the students’ minds firing up and having fun.
The approach on this Creative Camp was that our team of AFF volunteers took a backseat during the event. Haitian teachers were the star of the show!
The week was amazing, but there is still work to be done. The team that organized the teacher workshop and Creative Camp is looking for ways to build a consistent delivery mechanism around these ideas.
It is a simple and obvious philosophy… Haitians are going to find the answers to Haiti’s issues. Investing in teachers and students, specifically in their ability to tackle tough problems and work as a team, is a great partnership opportunity for us.
Thank you to all of the people who provided encouragement and financial sponsorship for this project!