REPORT FROM ANNU ON 5 DAY RESITENTIAL TRAINING WITH FIRST STEPS FOR TEACHERS
General integrated teachers’ training workshop through ESD ( Education for sustainable development)
The first day’s workshop began with Mr Parshuram S Niraula of First steps introducing himself and, subsequently, teachers introducing themselves. The agendas for the day were exploring expectations and objectives of the training exploring expectations and objectives of the training/workshops, discussing and noting possible issues and solutions in the class, comparing and contrasting old and current theory of education, developing teaching materials from locally-found resources and understanding the growth and development of a child, problems in children/disorders in children. He shared 4 scientific applications which could help direct lesson objectives. One, to be observers and teach children to be observers. This will enable children to become curious beings instead of followers of popular theories. Two, documentation of progress enables teachers to track child development and to redress where necessary. Three, analyze to refine strategy and fourth, to disseminate knowledge to share with others so as to benefit society as a whole. This training complemented January’s training which was an understanding on children compared to seeds needing suitable environment and teachers as farmers caring for the plants/vegetation. The teachers were able to input ideas about organic and chemical teaching where organic teaching was sustainable for the village and country as a whole. In addition, it further supported January’s training when the trainer shared about children being learners hungry for new ideas especially through creative activities. The evening ended with ‘hot potato’ after dinner where each teacher had to recall and share the day’s knowledge.
The agendas for the second day were understanding children’s needs and role of adults at different stages of growth and the problems of many children, understanding personal and professional qualities of a teacher, elements of a complete/whole school, using ESD, its elements and integration in lessons in our daily lives, story-telling with puppetry and advantages of grade-teaching/multi-grade teaching.
The day began with a demonstration of circle time with children’s songs. The trainers explained that it can be used daily to welcome children, learn greetings, describe the day and climate, spread positivity and conduct slight physical activities before transitioning. The first activity was to select a picture each to observe pictures using the 4 skills (observe, document, analyze and disseminate). The trainer encouraged teachers to see the obvious and ‘read between the lines’ or predict. This was to demonstrate the use of imagination for sensory writing, practice listening and speaking skills, boost public speaking confidence by sharing their observation. The teachers used the same materials in a group work by sequencing their pictures and creating a story out of it. This sequence/ picture composition activity was also used to assess child’s memory and, above all, it was made using commonly found materials such as old newspapers, magazines and calendars. The trainer emphasized on ‘creatical thinking’ (critical and creative) through this activity. The teachers were introduced to puppetry through which a teacher could communicate, share and learn with and from the child. They were shown dolls made out of recycled materials and exposed to dramatic voices to capture attention. Next, teachers were taught how to read books to children and the effective use of seating arrangements, physical toys, expressions in voices, pre-reading activities like discussing the cover and back pages, colours, numbers, prediction and relating it to their daily lives (family, food, home, school and such).
The agendas for the third day were exploring advantages of grade teaching/ multi-grade teaching, principles of Montessori and EYFS approach, thematic lesson planning, lesson mapping: identifying common lessons from different subjects and developing themes (select themes from existing textbooks to weave a common theme for thematic plans. The trainers and teachers discussed the advantages and challenges of grade-teaching. The advantages mentioned were that an enriched learning would occur through holistic planning while the challenge was to allocate time to work as a team and to gather local resources. Some of the teachers did express the challenge in balancing family life with work in the village where an average female worked longer than a male. They came to the conclusion that with time, thematic play-based learning should become easier not just for them but for the children as well. The discussion moved further backwards into the life of Maria Montessori and her advocacy for play-based/ hands-on learning. Again, this reinforced our training at Sukute of children being natural learners and the effective hands-on lesson to help children learn meaningfully. He shared that as teachers we must initiate an inclusive idea of involving families into the school and curriculum as the locals themselves know better the gaps to fill in their child’s growth. He added that children reflect our actions to them or result of our actions towards them. For example, if the child is often praised then he/she will learn to evaluate others for the better. It is best that the guidance the child receives from a young age is full of positive actions, intentions, habits, culture, etc. His/ her learning environment in and out of school must pull in values such as emotional and social skills. The teachers learnt and experimented ESD where relevant topics were pulled from each subject into a certain project with sustainable development (intellectual, emotional, physical, social, etc) in mind. They developed a thematic lesson plan with resources. 4 different groups created lesson plans for Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies each in which they had to demonstrate infusion of various subjects. The teachers were made aware that the national curriculum was steering along the same path. The teachers made a creative lesson plan involving the core subjects using flash cards, original songs and skits. After their group work, teachers were instructed to create a lesson plan each of the subject they were teaching back home. They used the same concept to pull in other subjects as well.
The agendas for the fourth were to understand how well music and movement/rhymes and songs fit in the thematic plans, prewriting and handwriting skills, learn classroom displays and management, learning to make anything out of local materials. The teachers participated in the ‘longest climb’ where 2 different groups had to each create the longest chain possible using their belongings. It was definitely a fun activity. This was an initiation of using imagination. The next activity was to use resources in the classroom and outside to create anything and describe it. This was done to show how students could visually observe classmates’ creations and allow students to be involve in free interaction. Inside the classroom, some things that could help make the room conducive were natural light, ventilation and space for movement etc. Those were some of the physical environment to work towards. The others were teacher-approach classroom management in which the teachers explored how to begin the day (greeting, smiles, positivity etc), moving around the classroom than strictly sticking to one spot ( whole-class teaching), voice fluctuations, body gestures to control the class without the need to shout, eye contacts to control the class, personal etiquette and exiting the class. The entire day from interactions, skills, assignments etc were to be infused with positivity to encourage students than bring them down. The teachers learnt that their attitudes would and could directly affect their students.
On the final day, teachers got the opportunity to present their individual lesson plans and storybooks. They practiced story-telling using newly learnt strategies to make it more effective especially for the young learners in the classroom. They received feedbacks such as to practice including the 4 skills and 3Hs to make meaningful impacts in their children’s’ learning. Even their homeworks should be creative and family-involving so they can connect their learning to real-life. We wrapped up the workshop with discussions, feedbacks and certification.
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