The second annual education conference was held at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) on October 19 - 20, 2015.
The purpose of the conference was to build an educational community within the region and to help high school teachers develop and improve their professional teaching skills. The two-day conference, which was organized by the University’s Academic Preparatory Program (APP), was led by Rachel Laribee, director of APP and Geoffrey Gresk, dean of students, with participation from several APP instructors and faculty members.
“The more time we spend together - APP teachers and local high school teachers - the better the transition is for AUIS students.” said Laribee, “The more we engage in conversation about victories and obstacles that we face in our classrooms, the stronger education will be in the region of Kurdistan.”
In the past two years, APP has been working to build an educational community beyond AUIS, and to provide an opportunity for high school teachers to learn from the American teaching style, while also strengthening AUIS’s relationships within the region.
The conference included English-language sessions (demonstrations of grammar, writing, reading, active listening and speaking); panel discussions; presentations; and analyzing effective methods in English-language instruction. It also included STEM materials (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), which was made possible through a grant from the U.S.Agency for International Development. “We provided two days of programming to local secondary and university educators,” Gresk said. “We discussed ‘Inverted Classrooms,’ modern teaching methods, and the next generation science standards.”
The STEM sessions included thematic approaches to science education and how to bridge the gap between secondary school and university, as well as panel discussions about STEM curriculums and common practices in the Iraqi teaching style versus the AUIS teaching style.
The attendees ranged from high school teachers to university lecturers across the region. Many of the attendees found the conference to be intellectually stimulating and useful.
“I found out that our conventional teaching techniques and methods are out dated,” said Nawzad Mohamed, a chemistry teacher at Peramagrun High School. “Sometimes simple teaching techniques have a greater impact on the student’s learning experience.” Another teacher, Hero Ahmed, who teaches biology in the same high school said, “I find these conferences very useful, it broadens our horizon. I would definitely come back for the next one.”
AUIS is hoping to arrange more education conferences in the future. The conference is free of charge to attendees, as it aims to provide professional development training for teachers and lecturers - either in high school or university - across the region. According to Laribee, the goal of the event is to share the most up-to-date effective methods in teaching instruction with local teachers and strengthen the university’s relationship with the community.