Last week, 46 librarians from villages throughout the Guatemalan Highlands traveled to Antigua for Child Aid’s third group training session of the academic year. For many of the participants, attending the all-day workshop meant leaving home well before dawn and traveling by bus for several hours in order to make the 8:00am start time.
Usually, Child Aid staff members are the ones doing the traveling because we conduct hundreds of one-on-one sessions with librarians in their home communities each year. Personalized coaching and mentorship are a critical element of our work. But we’ve also learned that group sessions are indispensable for the librarians-in-training who participate in our Reading for Life program.
The beauty of group sessions is that they allow librarians to network with other librarians and share information. Throughout the workshops, librarians break into small teams and talk about everything from frustrations and successes, to techniques for reading aloud, to imaginative ways they’ve increased community participation in their own libraries. In this way, not only do the librarians learn from each other, but our staff is able to get a big-picture sense of what’s working and what isn’t These sessions are very lively, and issues often arise that wouldn’t come up in the more tranquil environment of the one-on-one setting.
Each of our group trainings also has its own theme. During last week’s training, we focused on bilingual teaching methods and how to more effectively engage and encourage indigenous children, who speak Spanish as a second language. We also conducted a two-hour session on how to create rincones de juegos educativos (areas in a library that are dedicated to educational games for children). During another session, we taught librarians how to make educational posters and “folder games” that liven up the reading process and inspire kids to engage in the books. For children who come from homes that lack books entirely, these simple tools help them overcome frustrations, make reading fun and jump start their reading skills.
This was our last general training of the Guatemalan school year. In fall, we’ll begin our Adventures in Reading training sessions, which will help librarians create summer-break reading programs that keep children reading throughout Guatemala’s three-month school break.
If you or your company would like to sponsor a librarian training workshop, we would love to hear from you. Just email or call us! The workshops are a critical part of our program, and they play a major role in improving educational opportunity for children in the remote communities where we work.