Memoirs of a few training days

Many of my good friends asked me why I stopped abruptly at my last post. And for that the only answer I could surmise was the lack of time to continue it further. But almost a week after the entire episode, I think I had to take some time to reflect on the entire episode and provide information which will help others take some lessons out of the entire experience. So I am using this post to start Chapter 3 afresh in a brand new style. The post is a work in progress due to various other work loads that are coming as a result of my campus stay.

Chapter 3: What actually happened?

The scene upon my arrival had literally scared the bejesus outta me. There they were, the principal, management representative and a lot of teachers waiting for me. What I could muster at that moment was a sheepish smile and some general courtesy remarks. After freshening up and having a quick breakfast I proceeded towards the lecture hall to start with the proceedings.

Getting Introduced

I had a faint recollection of planning the Intro part in my mind the previous day.  I just planned to take a start by getting to know each one, but the sheer number and poor memory led me to realize the fact that it is a futile exercise. However I really wanted to know their educational background and the classes and subjects that the teachers. It was during this time that I realized that some of the teachers were from pre-primary, while some were taking fine arts or library-in-charge. What actually happened was that the School Management had made it compulsory for all the teachers in the school to attend the session. They even had teachers from 2-3 sister institutions located at various location within Indore. Also the qualifications of some teachers  never matched with the subjects that they took within the academic environment. However these are things that are beyond your control and we should have expected this as there was a clear gap between what we thought and what the management thought.

But on the bright side, I had the teachers right from lower classes till Std XII right in front of me. If I was able to make them understand the importance of active learning pedagogy, then a lot of future efforts could be minimized. I thought of doing a reverse introduction by answering their queries  about me.  Quite expectedly most of the questions were about the famous Kerala Model of ICT introduction in School, which I think answered more or less satisfactorily. And during each of these replies I ensured I was moving around the class and making eye contacts with most sections of the teachers.

Taking it session by session

I wanted first day to be a lighter one, and this I ensured by just giving them basic intro on importance of instructional strategy. I had used instructional strategy of Think-Pair-Share and Voting while delving through the sessions on Day 1. By doing it the way it is done in my ET801 class I ensured that the teachers understand the point that technology is only a facilitator for the transactions within the class. This was followed up by giving them an assignment to prepare a course map of a lesson that they would be teaching this year along with an instructional strategy that they use.  It will include the Subject, Chapter, Sub Topic within the chapter and contents within the sub-topic that they are planning to take along with the instructional strategy that they are going to adopt. I had shown them a sample inside the class for removing any doubts that they have on the assignment.

The next day was supposed to be a little more heavy with plans for explaining the AL strategies in detail along with an introduction to Blooms Taxonomy. I started off with a recap session to bring them on same page.  Then I proceeded with an activity which had them remember twenty words. The activity was used to connect the point about the Long Term and Short Term memory and how information losses happen at each stage. This was followed by an intro into various learning theories to position our active learning strategies within each of them. The rationale of each of the used AL strategies were then explained with some guidelines on how to use them effectively. The major input towards lesson plan on that day was the concept of prerequisites and how to assess them. I then introduced them to the Revised Blooms Taxonomy of cognitive levels along with assessment strategies.

The third and final day of common training was the most demanding as it dealt with writing of Learning Objectives (LO). I had started it with the need for LO and why it becomes crucial. Then I slowly introduced them to the ABCD of LO’s literally. I had seen this video in youtube which identified the four essential ingredients of an LO namely – Audience, Behaviour, Condition and Degree. This was easier to communicate to the teachers, I also made sure that there were atleast 7-8 teachers who showed the LO’s infront of the whole class. I used this opportunity to refine the concepts within the LO and obtained an indirect assessment of how well the teachers introduced. The next level of this was writing LO’s at different Bloom’s level and tying their assessment questions with the Learning Objective. Thus on this day I added the three crucial inputs LO, Blooms level and resources to my Lesson Plan Template.

Thus when you summarize, my lesson template is something like what is shown below:

LessonPlan

Though this is not following any standard lesson plan template, within the context, this helped in communicating the essential ingredients for a meaningful teaching-learning experience.

The last two days of the workshop was dedicated to introducing OER’s in Science and Maths to the teachers. And this was the normal demonstration of PhET simulations and Geogebra lessons.

Some Interesting Experiences

Though I have studied Hindi till Xth std., being non-native speaker, I was regularly accused by my friends of murdering the Hindi Grammar (which is true btw). However the little bit Hindi knowledge became a boon as at end of Day 1 few teachers approached me with this request. ” Sir, our English is very poor. Though we understand the language, it becomes difficult for us to follow complete lectures in English. So if you can speak Hindi in between, atleast for important terms, then it will be really helpful”. Next day onwards I made sure that most of my class was in Hindi and I took the help of the teachers themselves to translate the keywords into Hindi so that the meaning does not get lost.

One more interesting experience was more related to the communication gap between administrator in charge and me. They had arranged for lunch on each day for entire participants and the in-charge wanted us to take lessons till 3 . On the first day, I had left them at 1 and this became a problem for him. Now it was becoming difficult for me to make the person understand that if the teachers were not in a mood to learn, then there is no point in mandating them to stay till 3. But he was adamant and we had to finally budge. However I made sure that the teachers all agreed to the revised schedule and adjusted my plan to accommodate this change. One positive that came out of this change was that I was able to try out some on-the-spot created activities with some sort of connection to the general training goal. For e.g. we tried a competition of passing the ball by keeping the teachers in a linear line. The analogy that we created was that to two express trains. The participants were coaches in the train and they had to carry a duster across each compartment. There was a station master for each train who initiated the pass and when it comes back to him, then 1 round is over. The team making maximum rounds with t he duster wins. To add spice we had a teacher acting as a signal light who was given the authority to show the red signal when she wishes. This would mean that the passing has to stop and they cannot proceed until the signal goes green. The teams were allowed to choose their own strategy for reaching the goal as long as all the rules are followed.

The activity really brought enthusiasm among the teachers after a good lunch and it was very well appreciated.  Each of the subsequent days saw two or three similar strategies getting employed to make them energetic and active.