Lynette Noel has travelled a long way to be at the Mount. She is an instructor in the Department of Education at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, who has come to the Mount to continue her research on the literacies of male adolescents.
Here on a faculty scholarship awarded by the Government of Canada, Lynette is able to use the Mount’s resources and collaborate with faculty and staff to further her research on this topic.
“Literacy is my passion, and I have been exploring it in all kinds of ways, from the point of view as a student, and as a budding writer,” says Lynette. “If you want to be in literacy, you must be a reader and a writer.”
Lynette’s passion for literacy is largely inspired by the people in her life. With a son and many male students, she is always searching for new and innovative ways to make reading fun and accessible to those male students who seem to be marginalized in the Trinidad and Tobago school system.
“If we want our students to read, we have to have resources for them, especially things that are culturally relevant,” says Lynette. “You need to have content that makes sense to them.”
Though this would be optimal, Lynette feels there is a lack of varied resource materials that are interesting and relevant to young men in Trinidad and Tobago. In efforts to remedy this, and to engage her students, she writes many of the materials she uses to teach herself.
“For the boys I work with I am writing poems and stories,” says Lynette, who is currently in the process of having a story published, and is constantly dreaming up new tales to tell.
She also involves her students in the process of writing by creating fun activities that challenge them and spark their interest.
As part of Celebrating Writing at the Mount week, Lynette held a session that allowed people to take part in one of these activities.
In teams of two, participants were asked to write a story based on a prompt provided by Lynette. The activity allowed them to write using a collaborative process rather than individually.
These are the kinds of activities that Lynette hopes more teachers will implement to make students comfortable as writers.
Lynette is very happy to be able to continue her research at the Mount. She is a graduate of the Mount’s Master of Education program through a cohort in her home country, so this is the first time she’s been on campus and has been an opportunity for her to meet many of her mentors after working with them for more than seven years.
“Being here is like a homecoming for me,” she says. “What I do and teach are inspired in great extent by Mount faculty.”
With several months left on campus, Lynette and her collaborators are proposing a short term research project with a nearby school. This prepares her to move onto the next stage of her research.
“It deals with transforming the lives of the students through a mentorship program with teachers,” Lynette explains.
While her original research dealt with intervention and improvement with respect to literacies of male adolescents, the next phase will be centered on collaborating with teachers to create an environment that empowers males from a young age to be confident in their reading and literacy skills.
Lynette will be at the Mount until the end of February, at which point she will head home to Trinidad and Tobago. She hopes that with an expanded base of knowledge and a new set of resources, she will be able to help more students embrace literacy.
“[Literacy] is, to me, the thing that can open any door,” affirms Lynette. “Many of our students are shut out of doors because they don’t have the literacy skills. As teachers, we must recognize that our students have many strengths, and use them as an asset to open those doors.”