Teacher Training in India, Part 3

(Continued from parts 1 and 2)

I did not start thinking "what principles should I use?" I grew into them. 

2 teachers helped me:
(1) Success: Every time a session is successful I reflected, "What made it successful"?
(2) Failure: Every time a session was not successful I reflected, "What happened?" 

 Over the years, I understood that more than content and knowledge, what is needed is your 'humanity'. Teaches are human beings who work with a very sensitive age group. They are sensitized to them. That makes them tough clients for they can sense just how real and genuine you are from miles away. If they do not respond to your product, it is not because they don't is because they feel and understand very deeply and can see through us. 

 There are 2 types of workshop leader. One who completely demolish teachers and where they are and then build them in the way the leader feels best. Then there are those who feel everyone has a 'wow!' in them and our job as facilitators is to nurture it. I am the 2nd kind. 

 I stay humane: 
A teacher in a school in Jodhpur could not keep her eyes open during my session.
Ego jumped out with a 'Is she bored?' I nudged her a bit, sarcasm being my tool.
She said, “My son has 102 degree fever and is alone at home. I had to come to school for your workshop and stay back too. I could not sleep at night for I was tending to him”.
Collapse ego…forget sarcasm. I tell her, “Just go…go home and tend to your child. I will inform the head of school.”
She gets up with reluctance…then walks out with gratitude. I wonder how the head of school could be so insensitive to her! Since I knew her personally I could take this decision.

 Learnt: Be human, confidently!

 I use "adaptive expertise" (Bransford, 2000):
Teachers in a workshop in Delhi would just not connect…no matter what I did. There was a very distracting restlessness in the room. So I could not just go on and on with my trumpet.
So, I stopped. And I said, “Something is not gelling. And I won’t go on and on unless I know what it is. If required I can wind up the session right away”.
And then it poured out…the level of stress they were working under.
So I changed my session to “Teacher stress and how to handle it”. I divided them into groups and asked them to brainstorm ways. Then had a whole group session where we came up with 25 ways to beat stress for Delhi teachers, the most popular being ‘retail therapy’…of course!

 Learnt: Never be obsessed with finishing your content. AAA-Adapt, Accommodate, Adjust.

 I use principles of neuroscience:
I use a lot of strategies that I learnt while teaching kids. I stumbled into ‘neuroscience in education’ while working with students with special needs and that has given me a lot of strategies very useful for everyone. Some of these are-
  1. Switch the mode: Switch your session every 20-30 minutes. Change!
  2. Tackle the whole person: Be aware of Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor/Physical domains (Benjamin Bloom, Bloom’s taxonomy)
  3. Goal setting: Ask teachers to set 1 to 3 goals for implementation in the end. As Maya Norula, principal Hopetown school, Dehradun, said, “If teachers can get 2 to 3 ideas for work in their classes through the workshop, it is a successful session”.
  4. I am not an evangelist. I am one of them - I am one of you. I have been there. This is my message for the teachers. From the way I communicate to the clothes I wear. I don’t try to stand out. I try to stay a ‘teacher leading other teachers’. And this is what builds what Shelja Sen of Childrenfirst, India says “Connect” with the teachers. They open to me with trust. To the point that a teacher in Manipur asked me, “Why are you not wearing a dupatta? In Manipur we always wear a dupatta!”
  5. I don't use jargon - Jargon…words that are indecipherable. What a way to build a barrier between the audience and you. I am superior and you are inferior. I hate it. I don’t use it. I can transfer the highest of education principles using the most common language, my favourite being “cooking”.
  • Cover learning differences becomes “How would you feel if your whole family had to eat the same food day after day”
  • Creative teaching becomes “If your child does not like an apple, you bake him an apple cake without telling him”.
  • Teaching strategies become “I am just adding recipes to your recipe book. So you have a bigger choice to choose from when you plan your lesson”.
I don't get burn-out. I care for myself:
Finally…I care for myself. I do only as many training sessions as I can manage. I don’t give up passion for name and fame. I keep revamping my sessions to stay upbeat. I don't chase teachers who are too hardened to change.

I am grateful:
I take breaks and I take pauses in between sessions to ...‘simply breathe’ and enjoy being together with fellow educators. Teachers are different from other professionals. They are simpler and more sensitive. They operate from the heart. And I absolutely love being with them. It rejuvenates me and makes me fulfilled enough to face existence with a song in my heart.

#teachertrainingindia, #teachersofindia, #teachingmatters

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