Lebanese American University


Institute for Peace and Justice Education launches teacher-training program

LAU institute launches a two-year development program, “Reach a Child - Teach a Child.”

Thirty school teachers from schools in North Lebanon are participating in this two-year teacher development program.

The aim of the workshop is to enhance the teachers’ pedagogical skills towards non-punitive approaches to discipline.

Thirty elementary school teachers from 10 schools in North Lebanon, including Tripoli Evangelical School and Monsef National School, congregated at LAU Byblos on Saturday October 29, as part of the Institute for Peace and Justice Education’s (IPJE) teacher development program, titled “Reach a Child - Teach a Child.”

The two-year project, that is sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee and LAU, aims to train teachers on how to serve as resource persons in their respective schools in interactive, child-centered instructional strategies, positive classroom management skills and constructive, non-punitive approaches to discipline.

“The South is getting a lot of attention, and Greater Beirut schools are affluent enough to afford teacher training, but it’s the North that’s lacking the resources,” says Dr. Irma-Kaarina Ghosn, director of IPJE. “This is why we’re focusing on the North as much as we can,” she adds.

Housed by the School of Arts and Sciences on the Byblos campus, IPJE is the first university-based peace-education institute in the Middle East.

Since its inception, IPJE has been actively organizing conferences and organizing education workshops to advance its vision in the region.

“When students get bored, they get in trouble,” says Ghosn. “In order for children to engage in learning, you have to reach them. Once you do that, your work as a teacher will be a lot easier,” she explains.

The teachers were seated in groups of 4 or 5, according to the subjects they taught, rather than which schools they taught at.

Amale Rizk, who teaches math in Kindergarten 1 and 2 at Monsef national School, is optimistic about the workshop.

“I have no doubt this workshop is very important,” she says. “It’s up to us to apply what we learn here in the classroom.”

Lisa Rachwan, a social studies teacher at Modern School Akkar, similarly hopes to acquire pedagogical techniques she can apply in her classes.

The workshop also served as a platform for exchanging ideas and sharing teaching experiences — whether successful or unsuccessful.

Participants submitted anonymous questionnaires soliciting both straightforward information (how many years they have taught, average number of students per class) and more open-ended questions, for example about the reasons for student misbehavior or the effectiveness of intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards.

According to Ghosn, children today are exposed to a lot more “media and community violence,” which has profound implications for their development.

A follow-up debrief meeting will take place next month, to review participants’ progress with the techniques suggested in the workshop.

“Some new techniques will be suggested by workshop leaders, but other strategies will have to come from the teachers themselves,” explains Ghosn.

The second and third workshops will take place in January and March, with each followed by a debrief meeting.

By the beginning of the second year, teachers will participate in a workshop on how to pass on acquired knowledge to other teachers.

At the end of the project, a handbook containing the teaching methods and techniques that proved successful will be distributed to the teachers, and potentially to the students’ parents.


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