It was nearly 2-3 months ago when all of this started, but I think this is a right time to document the outline details of what is happening. So as I am writing this blog, I am involved in a teacher training program with a set of teachers in a small school at Indore. For some very private reasons I will not name the School over here, however what I will try to explain is the main idea/concept that I had while planning for this training and the key persons with whom I am involved so that my readers can contact them directly.
My meeting with Yograj Patel, a 4th year DD student in Mechanical Engineering at IITB, happened by chance during my final semester of M.Tech in the course Research Methods in Educational Technology (ET 804). We were partners in a class project, which I guess we filled with regular last minute Jugaad fundae, but for which we had planned and implemented certain activities diligently. Then he was again there during my first year of PhD in the class ET 801 (Introduction to ET) where again we shared lots of our interests and passions. It was during this time that he mentioned about his initiative of an educational startup with his friend Akshay (Countryside) and how they would like to spread it further. From my CTARA experience I had certain pre-conceived notions about Educational Startup ventures in general, particularly of IITians. But these guys proved me wrong with the amount of groundwork they had done on it and the clarity they had on each of their ideas.
It was the time when I had completed my visit and study of IT@School project in Kerala and presented my M.Tech Thesis on “Information and Communication Technology Interventions in School Education – Lessons from Kerala Experience“. So there were some interesting ideas wandering in my head which I wanted try out on field and these guys presented me with the best possible option of doing the same. Initially I was bit hesitant to accept the offer, but more I discussed with both of these guys the more I was convinced of the practicability of it. So call it their (mis)fortune, I accepted the role of an unofficial and silent mentor/advisor to the Gyankriti project of Countryside. Though there are many more interesting stories to tell about this advisory role’s journey across the past 10 months, but we will move ahead with the main story in hand which is that of Teacher Training in a small school.
Chapter 1 : What am I trying to do?
In simple words I am trying to train a set of teachers on how to improve their teaching process using educational technology by using active learning (AL) strategies. But what is so different about the entire process is the way I have approached the process and what I am trying to do practically within the available context. So let me now set out the goals of what I am trying to achieve with this endeavor:
1) Try to practice the CTARA approach of developing technology(which will involve both strategies and content) along with the users (over here teachers) based on their need (instructional practice)
2) To ensure the changes that I bring in are sustainable
3) To encourage teachers to use active learning strategies in classrooms
4) To help teachers to use ICT effectively while employing AL strategies
5) Try to see whether a portion of the Kerala Model is replicable in the given context
Incidentally what helped me in the entire process was the preparation process of a workshop of similar nature to be done by ET Department in June for Engineering College Teachers. Since Teacher Training is a core theme underlying my research study, I am involved in almost all related experiments within the ET Dept. And this has greatly helped me to form ideas about the various aspects of the training process. Add to it, the CMI’s Certified Trainer and Facilitator workshop experience.
Chapter 2. How am I going to do it?
From the goal setting exercise it was very clear that I will be focusing on almost whole of teachers – Pre-Primary till Higher Secondary. So when I travelled to Indore I just had a vague idea that there are around 40 teachers, marginally better, but with some enthusiasm. The only sure thing about the training was that I would take it using AL strategies itself. I had read a little bit from “Educating a Reflective Practitioner” by Donald A Schon and “Education Matters!” a blog by Subir Shukla all of which gave me some good pointers on what could be a good strategy.
When I was travelling to Indore in train, a loose structure was already present in my mind. I knew that I will start with expectation management, then move onto course map and then into strategies. I was thinking of taking Lesson Plan using a spiral strategy with regular dose of Instructional Strategy and a simple introduction into assessment. There were 3 days of general teacher training and two days specifically devoted to PCMB. The last two days were solely to help them familiarize with the OER’s provided. So if you put it in a figure, the fig 1 below is something that I had in mind for general training.
This differed from the traditional spiral in the sense that the dia’s (or depth) was almost equal for each of the days. There was also an addition of take-away which involved some tangible output at the end of each day. The lesson plan was supposed to be this take-away, resulting from the task. The AL strategies that were to be discussed were that of TPS, Voting and Collaboration. Also the importance of review and feedback had to be highlighted in this process.
Chapter 3: What actually happened?
As is always, the real life situation differed a whole lot from what I had in mind. I had reached Indore at around 9:45 AM and was in school by around 10:15 AM. It took me nearly half an hour to freshen up and I could see that all the teachers had arrived there and were anxiously waiting for the expert from IIT. The remainder of this story will be detailed in my next blog which will contain a part of my reflection on the entire process.