15 Feb November Conference Moves Online
Since 2014, the November Conference in Guatemala has been an annual opportunity for teachers from our international network to share math teaching and learning across contexts. This professional development opportunity for teachers of all backgrounds includes mathematics workshops where teachers not only learn content and strategies, but they also share ideas and experiences. The resulting collaboration builds a community of math educators and leaders that lays the groundwork for ongoing partnerships.
Due to COVID-19, we decided to host the 2020 Conference virtually. We took into consideration survey results from our teacher network in order to plan an experience that would best align with the increasingly complicated needs of educators.
Teachers’ Professional Development Needs
The requirements to become a teacher in Guatemala are minimal. Many teachers enter the classroom immediately following graduation from high school with little to no training and limited opportunities for professional development from the Ministry of Education. T2TGlobal originally created the November Conference in Antigua as an inclusive and accessible opportunity for any teacher in Guatemala to receive the professional development in math education that is so difficult to find in the current system. Against the backdrop of this year’s global pandemic, sustaining that inclusion and accessibility proved more challenging than ever before.
Overcoming Access Barriers
The November Conference typically includes educators who have traveled domestically and internationally in order to attend a week of in-person workshops. In a normal year, rural teachers in our local network, like those from the Department of Alta Verapaz, travel a full day by public bus just for the opportunity to learn at the Conference. Teachers and students in remote areas like Alta Verapaz often have the highest need for education support and the lowest access to internet and digital resources. With a recent report indicating that eighty-three out of one-hundred homes in Guatemala do not have wifi, we knew access barriers were high and that many of our rural partners would be unlikely to join given how many have struggled to obtain any virtual access at all during the pandemic.
In 2020, a total of 122 classroom teachers participated in our first virtual November Conference, which also featured 100% Guatemalan presenters from our local expert network. We were excited to learn that 40% of participants had participated in a T2TGlobal program in the past, giving our team the opportunity to continue deepening existing local relationships despite the pandemic. Over time, we’ve seen teachers in our programs grow from curious Conference participants to confident Conference presenters who are leading their peers through transformative change.
One such participant-turned-presenter, Celestina Poz Bocel, said this year:
I have unlearned and learned a lot from each of you. I feel very flattered and fortunate to be able to share the knowledge that I have built and continue to build with the support of the team of T2TGlobal.
At T2TGlobal, we’re more committed than ever to building equitable programs and opportunities. As we celebrate the success of new virtual programs like this one, we also remain conscious of the inequities inherent in virtual education. That’s why in 2021, we’re investing in the research and development of program strategies specifically designed to reach rural educators like those in Alta Verapaz. Stay tuned for more updates on our progress and how to learn more about the 2021 November Conference.