Lessons from the “best teacher in the world” for Colombia – Education – Life

An immigrant, with few resources, faces culture shock and a big city. Those were the conditions Keisha Thorpe faced in her early years in America. He has just arrived from Jamaica in search of a kind of “American dream” that includes a better education.

(Also read: Harvard acceptance rate drops to record low.)

After years, In 2021, he was awarded the Global Teacher Prize, the world’s best teacher award, a coveted decoration that more than 800 teachers on the planet aspire to each year.

What he achieved is important not only because of the size of the award, but also because of the circumstances surrounding his training and career process. and that is Immigrants who live in inner-city neighborhoods have the lowest high school graduation rate in the entire United States (sometimes as high as 30 percent) and lower college transitions (less than 15 percent)).

(Also: Do ​​you want to study in Canada? This call provides opportunities).

Thorpe teaches in a school where 100% of its students are immigrants, not fluent in English and a large percentage (95%) are considered low-income. To help her students learn better, this teacher has completely redesigned the 12th grade curriculum (the last in that country’s high school) to be culturally appropriate for her students, who are immigrants from regions such as Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South and Central America.

Likewise, she spends much of her time, resources, and effort helping high school students apply to college, assisting them with their applications and searching for full scholarships. Together with her twin sister, Dr. Trisha Thorpe, she founded US Elite International Track and Field, Inc. , a non-profit organization that provides at-risk student-athletes from around the world the opportunity to use their talents to earn full scholarships.

How can an immigrant become the best teacher in the world?

I am an immigrant to the United States and I initially came to this country from Jamaica in search of a good education. I grew up in very bad conditions. My grandmother invested her savings in me and my sister, and instilled in us the desire to want to continue our education, which is one of the reasons why I got a scholarship in America.

How did you become a teacher?

When I was in college I wanted a law degree, but when I realized there were other disadvantaged students around me who wanted the same chance at a better life, I decided to turn around and go to education. For me it was a rewarding career because of its ability to change lives. Having the opportunity to go to the United States on a scholarship and get a debt-free education changed my life. This is what is required, opportunities and that is why I am a teacher, to open up a range of opportunities for my students. In the school where I teach my students are mainly immigrants and refugees, all from disadvantaged backgrounds. About 95 percent of them are considered low-income, so they receive free or low-cost meals at school, sometimes their only meal of the day.

What does educating refugee children in fragile conditions look like?

My experience teaching immigrant and refugee students was very challenging at first, but it has improved over the years as I become closer to their needs and have also developed my own teaching practices. The pandemic has amplified many of the inequalities in our school environment that particularly hit immigrants. The challenge was figuring out how to make sure that we meet the needs of our students in this context. When they come to the United States, they learn English as a second language.

(Keep reading: Sina releases ‘certificate’ for photographers and videographers.)

The challenge is to bring them up to language proficiency, preparing them for university and the real world abroad and also for their careers. What I do is try to connect with my students in a culturally responsive way, and turn theory into practice. This is the key to pedagogy, to teach them the practical applications of what they learn in my class, and that they can really transfer these skills to the real world and solve the problems they will encounter in their daily lives.

What are the disadvantages of immigrant students in terms of education?

One of the main challenges that my immigrant and refugee students face is first and foremost culture shock and the feeling that they do not belong. It is very important to create a place of belonging and to create a safe space and safe haven in schools.

“It must be done
An effort in skills-based education. Schools focus on academics, but how this knowledge is imparted is also very important.
For practical application.

The second challenge they face is language barriers, because most students never speak English again. But the main thing, and this happens in all migration contexts, is the fact that their education is spotty. They do not even have an education in their own language, and they usually come with significant delays. It is a traumatic event that can interrupt their life project. We try to overcome these challenges by offering different forms of support in the classroom. Some of my students are in 12th grade and their education level is 6th grade, and they have just come to this country, they are 16 or 17 years old, which means that they get into the high school system right away and they have a short period of time to learn the language and other skills, to be able to Thinking about college or being a productive citizen, but she lags behind in learning and cultural barriers.

What results have you achieved through your migration interventions?

In the program I dictated, 40 percent of the students improved their reading comprehension. This is very valuable because before the indicators reach 10 percent. With the Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting these young people’s access to university thanks to sports scholarships, as I was able to do when I was young, we were able to get scholarships for these kids for a total amount of $6.7 million in 2018-2019 alone at 11 different universities. Over 500 students have won full athletic scholarships for athletics. US Elite has achieved more than 90 percent of college graduation, nearly 20 percent have a master’s degree and 8 percent have a graduate degree.

How do you think what should be taught in schools?

A great deal of effort should be put into skills-based education. I think initiatives like the Skills Summit are absolutely necessary because we don’t always focus on what students need to develop skills. Schools often focus on academics, and of course it’s great to have academic knowledge, but how to put that knowledge into practice is also very important for students to lead productive lives and give back to their community. When we think about making sure students have skills, retrain or upgrade their skills, we are also making a contribution to the economic sustainability of a country or region, as well as to the individual and his or her family, Because it is these students who will eventually return to their communities as part of the workforce. Translating knowledge into creativity, into innovations that add, and making sure that they advance your economy, is undoubtedly the right way to go.

Colombia is a country with a large number of immigrants. What do the authorities advise in the education sector?

One of the things most countries face is ensuring that all of their students receive an equitable, high-quality education. I think the Colombian government is doing a great job of making sure these things happen from a young age, right up to 28 years old through programs from the Ministry of Education and the Colombian Family Welfare Institute. It is essential to recognize the need to train migrants and refugees who have stopped learning and who either go to secondary school at 17, 18 or 19 or enter informal work.

(We recommend: the legal oblivion in which Venezuelan children cannot be adopted.)

In America we have what they call community schools. They are schools that are a resource to the community and provide comprehensive services to students and families, and are built on six pillars. Those pillars are to ensure that there is a cultural curriculum for immigrant and refugee students. I think this can serve as a reference point for Colombia.

What should be the role of teachers?

Given the background of the immigrant population, teachers must ensure that lessons are conducted in a way that targets all dimensions that their students experience. Good teaching also includes inclusive leadership and positive behavioral practices, which must reach other levels beyond teachers, such as the use of restorative justice models rather than punitive ones, because we are talking about vulnerable populations that can be saved from crime through education. Make sure the students are reintegrated into their community in a positive way. The community school also provides support services for students, such as a psychologist, school nurse, and community school coordinator who can provide additional services to the school.

How does it make a difference?

There are many ways we can make a difference in the way we approach education. The educational future at this time, particularly in a world undergoing transformation, as we have seen in the pandemic, is to ensure that comprehensive policies are in place to provide an equitable, high-quality education for all students. Not just for immigrants, not just for minority students, but for all students. Make sure everyone has what they need to achieve better chances in life, and that there are more paths to a better education. We must also provide opportunities for teachers to retrain and improve their skills, because we must have the so-called skills of the twenty-first century to pass on to their students, to adapt to the needs of our educational environment. Ultimately, all stakeholders in society must be involved in training, investment and educational programs: parents, community partners, businesses, mayors and governors, and those who influence educational policy.

Mathieu Chacón Ordos – Teaching writing
On Twitter: @EducacionET

You also find in Education:

Technique to study and learn English even if you don’t have time

Columbia has improved its English performance, but the level is still low

Leave a Comment