A Waterfall Model for Providing Professional Development for Elementary School Teachers: A Pilot Project to Implement a Competency-Based Approach
Supporting the professional development of teachers to enhance mathematics learning is an important consideration of global education initiatives. However, designing and implementing professional development depends on the structures in place in different contexts. For instance, some structures involve different roles played by the different actors in the schooling system. Thus, school board consultants, principals, inspectors and teachers might be in charge of providing information, coaching, training or educating teachers. Those policies and practices are key components when designing and implementing professional development for teachers at a large scale. This article presents an initiative supported by UNICEF in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2015, the DRC undertook a transitional approach to school reform by adopting a situation-based approach “Approche par les Situations (APS)” in the elementary school curriculum. An experimental pilot project to improve teaching and learning Mathematics and Language Arts in elementary school was set up. To this end, learning situations were created and 80 teachers were trained in the use of these situations in class using a waterfall model of professional development. The results indicated positive contributions resulting from the teacher-enacted situation-based approach, but also exposed functional problems of implementing a waterfall model to support teachers at a large scale. Our results highlight the challenge of supporting all teachers in a global context.
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