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Teaching Leadership the focus of summer Pakistan program

Since late May, 20 teachers from across Pakistan have been studying “active learning” practices with professors from the UMass Amherst College of Education. Called the Instructional Leadership Institute for Pakistani Educators (ILIPE), it’s a cultural exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department that provides training in learning-centered teaching methods and creating classroom environments that benefit students.

For the last four weeks, they’ve spent their mornings and early afternoons with classwork rooted in learning about “constructivist teaching”. This is a pedagogy based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction as opposed to passively receiving information. This includes active learning instead of not a “one person exclusively teaching to all” model. An active learning classroom encourages student questions. The contributions by students will serve to not only enrich other student’s experiences but also can support the teacher.

“If a classroom is established and supported like a community, then the students will be there to help and assist if the teacher isn’t right or needs help,” said Rebecca Woodland, Ph.D., Associate Professor.

The teachers recently made their summary presentations to their instructors and fellow participants at the UMass Amherst Student Union building. They combined the highlights of their classroom experiences, how they’ll approach implementing what they’ve learned along with their thoughts about American culture.

“Don’t just immediately incorporate your studies back home. Be practical about your implementation,” said one teacher. “Think big, think ahead for the next few years but start small. Form a team who will be susceptible to your ideas. You can walk around with a big idea in your head but the implementation will have to start small and with the help of others. These pedagogies that we’ve learned are highly needed back in our classrooms.”

The teachers also spent time out of their classrooms by traveling to Boston, New York City and in small groups having home-cooked meals with local families in Amherst, Pelham, Holyoke and South Hadley.

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