July 2010

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Reading, Information Literacy and Leadership

By Dr Susan Herbert

During the 2009/2010 academic year, the School of Education (SOE) launched three new and exciting projects on behalf of the Ministry of Education. Two of these projects, a Master’s in Education in Reading and The Certificate in Education for School Librarians, were awarded to SOE under the aegis of the Secondary Education Modernization Programme Coordinating Unit (SEMPCU) and the third project, a three-year Training Programme and Professional Development and Support Initiatives for Secondary School Principals, was awarded directly by the Ministry of Education.

Addressing some of the burning issues in Education—reading, information literacy and school leadership—the programmes were designed and developed specifically for the local environment and are being delivered by staff from the SOE.

Master’s in Reading
Started in August 2009 with 90 secondary school teachers, the two-year Master’s in Reading programme focuses on literacy, particularly relevant amidst concerns about the levels of literacy among the student and adult population.

Included among the expected outcomes of the Master’s in Reading programme are that participants should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the various instructional approaches to reading
  • Organise creative and effective learning environments
  • Design and apply strategies to improve the reading performance of secondary school students including students with mild to moderate disabilities
  • Apply different models of learning and teaching to design effective learning environments and experiences to facilitate the implementation of the reading
  • Integrate the reading curriculum across the school’s curriculum
  • Coach and mentor other teachers in the secondary school system in the area of reading in the content areas.

In the first year, participants were exposed to the following courses:

  • Theoretical foundations of Reading Instruction
  • Reading Diagnosis, Intervention and Assessment
  • Teaching Reading in the Content Areas
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Reading

During the second year, participants will be exposed to

  • Supervision and Leadership in Reading
  • Setting up School-based Reading Programmes

Certificate in Education for Secondary School Librarians
The Certificate in Education for Secondary School Librarians started in December 2009. Though not directly related to the Reading Project, it is expected that the synergy that will develop between teachers of reading and librarians will contribute to capacity-building at the secondary level. This programme aims to enhance the skills of school librarians so that they can collaborate with teachers to deliver the Information Literacy Curriculum in the secondary school. School librarians help students to develop the love for reading. With a changing concept of the role of the librarian to that of media specialist, there is need to continually enhance the skills of the librarian. Therefore, among the aims of the programme are the following: To

  1. Promote the ongoing professional development of librarians assigned to secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Support the development of competencies that will equip secondary school librarians to deal with the challenges of the present era of education reform
  3. Prepare school librarians to implement the national Library and Information Literacy Curriculum in secondary schools, both independently and in collaboration with other members of the school community

It is hoped that the enhanced capability of the secondary teachers in the area of reading along with the support of the librarians who have developed skills as media specialists, will contribute in significant ways to educational reform.

Professional Development and Support Initiatives
Finally, the third new and exciting project at the SOE is the three-year training programme of Professional Development and Support Initiatives for 134 secondary school principals. Principals, as leaders, have a unique role within the school system and the development and enhancement of their leadership qualities, problem-solving skills and interpersonal skills require more targeted attention as we negotiate the 21st century environment. The programme’s innovative approach allows for customized collaborative work among members of the SOE team, including Mr. Carol Keller, Dr. Ewart Taylor, Dr. Jerome De Lisle, Dr. Arthur Joseph, Mr. Raymond Hackett, and the principals to create a community of learners, which aims to enhance the management skills of the current school leaders.

-Dr Susan Herbert is Head of the School of Education, The UWI, St. Augustine Campus.