Minnesota Educator – “A publication for the members of Education Minnesota” wrote an article in their October 2017 edition about Jackie Smith and Debbie Hadas; Jackie and Debbie have been a huge part of Mano a Mano’s teacher training trips to Bolivia over the past decade. (We are sharing this today because Facebook Memories reminded us about this article from 6 years ago, and the link in the original post going to Education Minnesota is broken.) This post is an update on Mano a Mano Teacher Training projects over the past few years.

Minnesota Educator Article

Accessed here from the Education Minnesota website.

7 Years of Teacher Trips

We are thankful to everyone that was involved over the 7 years of teacher trips:

  • 40 US teachers & education professionals
  • 495 Bolivian teachers
  • 15 Bolivian schools
  • 5 Bolivian school districts

Pictures from Teacher Training Trips

Bolivian Teachers Continue to Apply Methods Learned During the Workshops

In 2021, while traveling to deliver COVID-related medical supplies, Mano a Mano staff traveled through the municipality of Santivanez, site of several schools whose teachers attended the training workshops. Teachers for grades 2 and 3 of the Unidad Educativa Cayacayani invited our traveling staff to visit their classrooms, excited to share how they continue to use and expand on the methods they learned.

Conceptual maps created by teachers and students, displayed on classroom wall.

Maria Blanca Velasquez wrote to share about their experience:

“We saw conceptual maps on every wall; students doing “turn and talk” exercises with each other and then with the teachers. Truly, the workshops have made a sustainable impact on these teachers and their students. Thanks to all the teachers who came from Minnesota and from Bolivia to work together, Hand in Hand, to teach our children.”

Mano a Mano Teacher Training After the Teacher Trips

In June 2019, Mano a Mano hosted our 7th (and final!) year of teacher workshops. These trips were an opportunity for teachers from Minnesota and teachers from Bolivia to meet together and discuss teaching methods, develop curriculum, learn how they keep parents involved, and have an opportunity to interact in informal as well as classroom settings. We approach these trips with a deep appreciation for the dedication of teachers in both countries, for the similarities and differences in our life experiences, and for the gifts that teachers from each country can bring to the other. On November 12, 2019 we gathered with Minnesota teachers that have participated in these trips for a discussion and celebration of what was accomplished through these trips.

This teacher’s training manual was one of the main outcomes of our teacher trips – a reference guide for Bolivian teachers to be able to teach more of their fellow Bolivian teachers simple methods to potentially improve math and language teaching.

In 2022, our goal was to improve the education offered to rural Bolivian public school students with an emphasis on interactive learning through use of conceptual maps. During our search process for a qualified teacher to help manage this project, the Normal Simon school, located about 15 miles from our Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) in Cochabamba, approached Mano a Mano with a request: could we provide agriculture-related training for their students. Given that Normal students would be teaching in rural schools, the faculty wanted them to be better prepared to include lessons in their classroom teaching that rural students and their parents would find relevant to their daily lives. In addition to providing agricultural training, CEA staff saw this request as an opportunity to provide training on interactive and conceptual maps to students whose teaching practices are in the formation stage, ones who are most likely to integrate new methods into their classroom teaching. We are expanding this teacher training to other communities over the next few years.

A teacher training workshop at Normal Simon Bolivar in October 2022. (You can see the Mano a Mano teacher training manual in the foreground.)

Teacher Training Project with Normal Simon Bolivar (October 2022)

Our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Internacional entered into a formal partnership agreement with the teacher training college Normal Simon Bolivar last year. Based on this agreement, Mano a Mano presents conceptual map pedagogy to Normal students, training them to use these maps as teaching tools that can be applied to any subject matter. Groups of 25-50 students each take part in sets of five workshops, the first taught at Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA), the next four at the Normal campus. In return, the Normal school provides products needed to support the operations of the CEA.

Ben Martinez teaches the workshops that focus on conceptual maps; he co-managed the Mano a Mano pilot project that prepared us to embark on this project. One session focused on use of the “double bubble” map to teach fourth grade biology. The next session focused on math. Once the concepts were presented, the students discussed examples of lesson plans with each other and then created their own.

A total of 48 students attended their second set of workshops at the Normal’s Sacaba campus, located about 10 miles from Cochabamba in October 2022.

Teacher Training in 2023

Here are just a few of Mano a Mano’s activities related to Teacher Training in recent months:

  1. August 2023: Training 30 primary school teachers in the Sacabamba school district. These teachers will integrate the conceptual map pedagogy into their daily classroom teaching of 400+ students. In October, our staff and Sacabamba teachers will conduct a full evaluation of the process and the usefulness of the content taught. The purpose of the evaluation: determine whether any changes or updated examples would improve teacher’s ability to construct lesson plans.
  2. August 2023: Expand the training of Normal students who are enrolled in the Escuela de
    Maestros Manuel Ascensio Villarroel de Paracaya (the post-secondary Teacher Training School). Mano a Mano staff are currently preparing materials for this expanded training. We will know by November how many teachers from this Normal will be included. Staff have ordered new books and classroom wall banners for an estimated 50 students. We’re very excited about this opportunity to integrate the training on conceptual maps into another teacher training program, thus further supporting the sustainability of this project.
  3. Currently and through the fall months: Continue to train the teachers-to-be at the Simon Rodriguez Teacher Training School in Sacaba. 50 future teachers will be trained during the next two months.

Mano a Mano Training Programs

Continuing Health Education workshop, November 2022.

In addition to building community-based infrastructure projects (clinics, schools, water projects, greenhouses, roads, airstrips, among others), Mano a Mano strives to provide training programs that complement those projects and further our mission in a comprehensive manner. Learn more about our overall programs across our 5 counterpart organizations in our 2022 Annual Report, and below are links about a few of our training programs:

A week-long agriculture seminar at the CEA in October 2022.