Teachers go back to the classroom
MANAMA // The Bahrain Teachers Society has announced it will hold two teacher training conferences over the coming weeks with the aim of improving educational skills throughout the Arab world.
The first of the meetings will take place next month, the teachers' society said on Sunday, focusing on teachers from the Gulf, with dozens of educators from the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain - the only three out of the six Gulf states with established civic organisations representing teachers - expected to participate in the five-day intensive training sessions. Another conference with a similar itinerary will be held five weeks later, encompassing teachers from across the Arab world.
The aim of the conferences, which will be held in Manama, is to improve teachers' performance in classrooms through training by experienced experts, mostly from Bahrain, versed in modern educational methods. "We wanted to ensure that the teachers take back what they learn and not just apply it in their classroom, but also share it with their follow teachers," said Falah Rabea, a high school teacher who is heading the conferences' scientific committee, which will oversee the training programme for the conferences.
"That is why at the beginning of the forums there will be specific sessions focusing on how the participants can transfer the information they learn to their counterparts." Mr Rabea added that the conferences will focus on the most recent developments in the field of teaching. "The workshops of the meetings will cover various topics including the use of new technologies and its strategies, the use of electronic resources in teaching, as well as a specific workshop focusing on children with special needs and how they could be integrated in the setting of a regular classroom," he said.
The skills can be applied at both elementary and high school levels, Mr Rabea said. The teachers' society president, Mahdi Abu Deeb, who also heads the Gulf Teachers Association (GTA), said the two forums were no simple undertaking for his society, which itself is less than 10 years old. "The first Gulf Teachers Forum and the first Arab Teachers Forum is a combination between two ambitious regional projects sharing the same goals, being repeated at two different levels," said Mr Abu Deeb, whose organisation was established in March 2006.
The first meeting, which was the brainchild of the Emirates Teachers Society, will be held in co-ordination with GTA, while the second is being held in co-ordination with the Arab Teachers Union (ATU). "As the head of the GTA, we wanted to activate its role and inject ourselves into the training process for teachers in the region by making use of the expertise and resources available to us today in the field of training," said Mr Abu Deeb.
"And despite being the newest member of the ATU, which has a long history, we wanted to undertake the same goals and aspirations sought by the GTA to a grander and more regional level." Mr Abu Deeb said it was important to hold the two conferences at the same time because of the shared aspirations to achieve similar goals and to ensure a more unified approach emerges on the two levels by creating an "atmosphere" for Arab teachers to communicate and share their views and experiences.
Jaleelah al Salman, vice president of the Bahrain Teachers Society, pointed out that the two meetings open the door for further integration of her organisation into the regional network and would allow teachers from the Gulf and the Arab world to better communicate, which would help these societies reach one of their goals - the advancement of teachers' skills. "We are undertaking the achievement of that goal on a local level by training teachers here and regionally by sharing the training with our Gulf and Arab counterparts," she said.
San Zain al Dean, the head of the communications committee for the forums, said that the teachers' society launched its website ahead of the meeting to ease the flow of information not just to media and the public, but also other educators to maximise the benefits of what will be shared. The organisers said 70 per cent of the preparations for the first forum has been completed and they expect to break even over the two conferences.