GSE Holds Professional Development Program for Pakistani Teacher Trainers

Posted: February 10, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Amy Biderman

George Mason is one of only two U.S. universities chosen to administer a training program for Pakistani teacher trainers. The first group of 14 teachers arrived at Mason last month and will remain for the duration of the spring semester. A second group arrives in the fall.

The Pakistan Teacher Education and Professional Development Program (PTEPDP) will provide students with the latest strategies and instructional methods for elementary education in the West. A project of the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Academy for Educational Development, PTEPDP is being offered at Mason’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) in partnership with teacher training institutions in Pakistan. The University of Montana also is participating in the program.

Jack Levy, GSE professor and project coordinator, says the goals of the program are to assist with education reform in Pakistan and help strengthen the teacher training system. At the same time, he adds, the program is a two-way street.

“In addition to enhancing the professional skills of the Pakistani educators,” he says, “we want to gain their insights on preparing our teachers to teach Muslim children, teaching large classes with few resources, and providing distance learning to a rural population.” Levy notes that an earlier partnership agreement with universities and teacher training institutions in Armenia provides a strong basis of expertise for this type of project.

The program consists of:

  • Three courses in either English as a Second Language (ESL), math, or science education
  • Workshops in “Leadership and Change in Multicultural Environments” and “Developing a Standards-Based Teacher Education Program”
  • Field visits to elementary schools in Washington, D.C, and Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties
  • Visits to professional organizations, government agencies, and conferences arranged by school and university mentors
  • Development of an action plan
  • Feedback meetings
  • English language support
  • Technology tutorials

The training includes collaboration with George Mason faculty and doctoral students on research and development projects. In addition, the teacher trainers will make presentations on education in Pakistan. When they return to Pakistan, they will make presentations on Western curricular and instructional trends and their application to a Pakistani setting. Participants will receive a certificate in teacher education leadership from George Mason.

Sherry Steeley, instructor of Curriculum Development in Bilingual/ESL Settings and project assistant, notes that PTEPDP provides an excellent opportunity for U.S. educators to collaborate with Pakistani teacher trainers to improve the education of language minority students in both countries.

“The participants are committed and caring professionals who are leaders in their educational system and are eager to learn new models of active instruction, curriculum integration, and promotion of student achievement,” she says. “They have impressed us with their level of readiness to address the academic, linguistic, and cultural challenges of our intensive teacher leadership program.”

At a recent meeting of Steeley’s class, students gave the program high marks. “I want to enhance my knowledge of new and modern methods of teaching and apply them to the educational system in our country,” said Zarina Begum. Added colleague Surraya Inayat, “We are here to learn the differences between the American and Pakistani cultures and the possible teaching methods we can adopt in poor-level schools.” A third student, Fareh Buriro, said, “I want to learn new methods for learning English, including new technologies and new teaching techniques.”

The students also indicated positive initial impressions of George Mason. “I am impressed by the American teachers,” said Tarrenum Kehkashen. “They are very kind, very polite, and very helpful.” Added Shaheen Sheikh, “I am so lucky to be at George Mason. It has a very strong ESL program.”

Levy adds that the university is lucky to have the Pakistani visitors as well. “We are looking for the university community to embrace our Pakistani visitors and make them feel welcome throughout their stay.”

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