Midway through her career in project management and human resources for a corporate employer in her native Mexico, Mercedes Ayarzagoitia decided to make a change and switch fields, becoming a college teacher.
That was just a few years ago. To her delight and that of her students, she was quickly able to take advantage of her natural teaching abilities and expert knowledge of her subjects. This summer, in a step forward in her own education, Ayarzagoitia, along with dozens of her colleagues, learned new teaching techniques and practised their English-language skills in a custom program offered at Georgian College’s Barrie Campus.
A total of 70 professors, most of whom focus on business-related subjects, spent three weeks studying in a specialized program created by Georgian for the government of Mexico. Topics included teaching techniques and approaches, presentation skills, software and learning how Canadian students interact with their teachers. The visitors represented 25 different Mexican educational institutions.
Paul Santos, Regional Manager with Georgian’s International Education and Development department, said participants have enjoyed meeting new Canadian colleagues and appreciated the opportunity to gain new insights into teaching.
The Mexican government, he said, sought such training to help meet the employment needs of Canadian companies such as Bombardier which are busy expanding their operations in Mexico. The government wants to make sure its educational system prepares the best candidates possible to meet the needs of international employers. Giving teachers the tools and cultural experience they need will go a long way to meeting that goal.
Visiting teachers lived, where possible, in homestay situations with Barrie families. Others stayed in the Barrie Campus residence.
Ayarzagoitia says that she has learned students are the same the world over – Canadians, like Mexicans, love their cellphones and laptops and find it easy to be distracted in class. She is glad to know that as a teacher she is not alone in battling for students’ attention in class. Learning how to integrate a variety of presentation techniques used in Canada will help, she said.
“Coming to this program also gives me a chance for some quiet time, and time for reflection and to think about my job,” she said. “Coming to Canada helps to open my mind to new ideas and experiences that I will take back to my students.”
RELATED: Georgian and the Mexican higher education system have agreed to collaborate on additional projects like this one.