On the Ground in the Galápagos Islands

T2TGlobal has two new members on its roster of math education experts. Andrea Ayala and Paola Castillo from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador volunteered their time to coach teachers in the Galápagos Islands. They describe their first experience….

As soon as we arrived to San Cristóbal Island in October, we were excited to be part of one of the biggest projects in the field of math education in the Galápagos — the biannual Education for Sustainability initiative. It is amazing how this program connects experts around the world for a whole week in this far-flung location to give workshops to primary, middle school and high school teachers from the islands of San Cristóbal, Isabela and Santa Cruz.

Approximately 100 teachers attended 40 hours of professional development. The Galapagos Conservancy and Teachers2Teachers Global made this possible, and we want to recognize them for the incredible job they did. The logistical organization was fantastic. The staff teams were always ready to assist us. Their positive attitude and willingness to help us with materials, classrooms distribution, food and lodging made our work easier in the Galápagos.

Starting Out

Since we were new to this project, it was a long journey to be part of the team and understand how everything works. Nevertheless, in each step we made, our workshop partners Patrick Scott and Tim Erickson supported us. They were always able to answer the multiple questions and concerns we had —

  • What were the teachers expecting from us?
  • What should be included in our lesson plans?
  • Where is the school?
  • Is internet available?
  • What materials should we bring?

Getting Underway

Math teachers in the Galápagos learn how to draw figures with polygons.

At the beginning, we were nervous but excited. Every reservation disappeared the moment we met the first group of teachers. They were so willing to learn. They really engaged with every assessment we gave them despite how tired they were at the end of each session.

It was great to see how open they were, to share with us and with their colleagues all the positive experiences they had during the day.

We also discussed our failures each day, and how sharing and celebrating them often contributes to finding interesting solutions.

Definitely, working with these teachers was a very positive experience. We are grateful for their efforts.

Finishing Up

As the workshops progressed and we got to know the team better, things continued to improve. Although there were last minute changes in our lesson plans in order to adapt to the teachers’ actual needs, we felt that all the work we did was worthwhile.

Even though we struggled to fit all the learning into the allotted time, there was not a minute lost. This group of highly qualified professionals, with whom we shared that week, became the key factor to enhance our love of math education and professional development.

We are thankful for the opportunity to be part of this project. We hope we will meet in the future to continue reinforcing connections and promoting professional growth along the way.

Written by Andrea Ayala and Paola Castillo

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