LAU at the Heart of Professional Development for Educators
LAU continues its quest to host forums that bring together educators from across Lebanon to exchange knowledge and expertise in long-established partnerships with private institutions.
In two such partnerships, the Education Department hosted the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) conference sponsored by Levant Distributors on March 2 and 3, and held a workshop on early childhood education sponsored by Macmillan Education and Griffin Publishers on March 7.
The events, both held in Irwin Auditorium on LAU’s Beirut campus, gathered hundreds of schoolteachers, curriculum designers, administrators and coordinators from across Lebanon.
The two-day CPD conference, entitled Schools of the Future, focused on how to adapt teaching methods to changing times.
“This CPD conference gave a chance to service current education students, as well as in-service teachers who have years of experience from private and public schools, to help them work together and present their own views about the schools of the future,” said Associate Professor of Education Rima Bahous.
Bahous opened the conference with a number of questions, launching a debate among the participants about what shape schools will take in the future.
“We do know that things are going to be different. Children and learners will have different demands, different interests, different hobbies, and their view of the future is different from ours,” she said.
Some questions raised in the debate were whether there will still be national exams in the future, whether memorization will be a major component of lessons, whether parents will be involved in the learning process, and whether science and math will take precedence in the classroom above languages, social studies and the performing arts.
Bahous stressed that no matter what shape schools might take, it is imperative for teachers to “rethink the way we teach.”
“Teaching is a profession,” she noted. “And like all professionals, we must stay up to date with research, new methods of teaching and new approaches.”
Wadad al-Sherif, a supervisor at Rafic Hariri High School in Sidon, who attended the conference agreed. “The students at school are of the technology generation, and if we do not update ourselves and meet their expectations, they lose focus, and they won’t learn,” she said.
Tasnim Manssi, an English teacher at the Maqassid Doha School-Sidon, said the conference was engaging. “It offered techniques we can apply in school. My colleagues and I are discussing how to integrate them in class.”
Also presenting at the conference were Eftychis Kantarakis of National Geographic Learning, Heather French of Scholastic Publishers, and Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs Mona Majdalani who is also a professor of Education, among others.
The development of young learners was a major topic during the March 7 workshop, called Shaping the Development of Preschoolers, which was led by teacher and educational trainer Nick Michelioudakis.
Michelioudakis stressed the importance of games and storytelling in children’s development. “If you look at developmental psychology, all educators and all psychologists agree that children grow through playing. This is their default mode, which is why this should have a central place in the classroom.”
The workshop was interspersed with interactive games and tips on how to improve communication between teachers and students.
These two events were only part of a series that LAU’s Department of Education is conducting in cooperation with different partners from the community.
Iman Osta, assistant dean and acting chairperson of the department, said that these partnerships are an important and necessary extension of the department’s programs.
“They allow our students to expand their professional connections and to get a grasp of many international educational perspectives. They also put LAU and our department at the forefront for the educational community,” she said.