Professional Learning Communities Sharing Knowledge and Leadership: Building a Global Professional Learning Community

Sukayna Dewji

A wonderful opportunity presented itself a couple of years ago when I applied to take part in Project Overseas. This is an excellent professional learning opportunity where teachers can learn and teach at the same time, while they help to build a global professional learning community.

The journey began with filling out the application that is available on the ETFO website. The application, along with the phone interview, gave me an opportunity to describe my strengths and ability to work with others. A couple of months later, I learned I would be travelling to Sierra Leone with three other teachers from across Canada.

Community building started well before departure. Our team leader helped  bring us  together through  emails and  phone  calls. Each of  us brought his or her own expertise, and we divided the task of preparing for the project. We contacted the team from the previous year and connected with the Sierra Leone Teachers Union to get help with planning.

Our first face-to-face meeting as a team was a couple of days before our departure for Sierra Leone. The  Canadian Teachers’ Federation brought all 49 Project Overseas participants from across Canada to Ottawa for a three-day orientation that helped prepare us for the experience. Along with attending excellent workshops, we had opportunities to hear from previous participants and to meet Canadians who had lived in Sierra Leone.

Upon our arrival in Freetown, Sierra Leone, we were greeted by several representatives of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union. We worked together to plan a program to best meet the needs of the teachers we would be working with, teachers who had not had the opportunity to go through any professional training. The teachers would be with us for two weeks of intensive work. We would then have a week of travel and visits within Sierra Leone, followed by another two weeks with a new group of teachers.

Our day started with having breakfast with all of the participants. This was a great time to network and get to know each other. We then formed two groups of about 20 participants each. We had two sessions before lunch and two after. Each of us worked with a local teacher leader to facilitate workshops on teaching English, math, social studies, and science. We also presented sessions on HIV/AIDS, gender equity, workshop presentation, and peace education, modelling teaching strategies as we conducted the workshops.

Participants had a chance to work together to prepare lessons that they could take back and use in their classrooms.

At the end of the day we met as a whole group to reflect, and the official part of our working day ended. (The local participants, however, contin- ued with a session about the


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