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Chile’s comprehensive teacher training program earns the global prize for effectiveness in teacher improvement

  • Suma y Sigue: Matemática en línea (Adding it up: Mathematics online) was developed during a three-year collaboration agreement (2014-2017) between the Universidad de Chile’s Center for Mathematical Modeling and the Chilean Ministry of Education. The agreement arose from a series of policies designed to enhance education quality.
  • The UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum prize ceremony will take place on October 5, 2018 at UNESCO Headquarters in France. The award recognizes outstanding projects and practices that contribute to teacher performance worldwide.

Suma y Sigue: Matemática en línea program team members with Carlos Vargas Tamez (center), head of the teacher development unit at OREALC/UNESCO Santiago. Photo: UNESCO/Carolina Jerez

4 October 2018 -In order for children and adolescents to experience meaningful learning, teachers must receive support, especially as they adapt to new challenges posed by students and a constantly changing world. Teacher training is one type of performance support that teachers seek.

To address this need, the Education Laboratory at Universidad de Chile’s Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) created a blended learning training program for primary school teachers. The program seeks to improve the quality of mathematics teaching and close the performance gap in math between schools serving students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

The Suma y Sigue: Matemática en línea program was ideated to address this need. To date, 1,400 teachers have participated in the classes, which apply innovative technology and real-world examples. The program methodology is supported by interactive resources that are specially designed to promote inquiry, visualization, modelling, problem-solving, and reflection on deep aspects of elemental mathematics and teaching processes.

Salomé Martínez, Director of the Education Laboratory at CMM, explained what moved them to create the UNESCO-award winning program: “Teaching children mathematics is a very complex task. Mathematical ability begins to develop, setting the foundation for abstract thinking, in the first years of schooling. It is essential that teachers do demanding mathematical work, reason mathematically, solve, know and use different representations for mathematical work, and use math to model everyday situations.”

Salomé Martínez. Photo: Education Laboratory at Universidad de Chile’s Center for Mathematical Modeling

Andrea Donoso, teacher from the municipality of Pudahuel (Santiago) and program participant, explained: “I thought I had mastered teaching in mathematics […]. Then I learned that I could look at everything I know from another perspective. I realized that I could teach my students not just from one perspective, but in fact use three or four different situations to teach the same material, thus facilitating learning and knowledge acquisition for children who learn differently.”

Andrea Donoso. Photo: Education Laboratory at Universidad de Chile’s Center for Mathematical Modeling

In addition to helping teachers develop in-depth mathematical knowledge and skills to lead classroom teaching-learning processes, the program supports teachers in recognizing and anticipating student difficulties and reasoning patterns. Recognizing the demands on teachers’ time, the modules address specific needs and enable teachers to progress flexibly in their professional development.

During his visit to the secretariat at project headquarters at Universidad de Chile, Carlos Vargas Tamez, head of the Teacher Development Unit at the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago) congratulated the laboratory team on behalf of UNESCO. He also highlighted the enthusiasm displayed by the young and multidisciplinary team working to make a substantial difference in the work and effectiveness of Chilean teachers.

UNESCO appreciates the valuable contribution by the Chilean National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, housed in the Chilean Ministry of Education, which presented and supported the bid by the Suma y Sigue: Matemática en línea program, bringing it visibility at the global level.

 

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The UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers was created in 2008 to support the improvement of teaching and learning quality. It is awarded every two years thanks to a donation by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates.

The US$300,000 prize is equally divided between three winners whose projects aim at improving the performance and effectiveness of teachers worldwide.

The projects were selected by an international jury composed of five distinguished specialists chosen for their high level of knowledge and experience of teacher-related issues. The prize is awarded during the World Teachers’ Day celebrations that take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris every year on 5 October.

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