Teacher support and development is considered to be the backbone of the work at Shikshantar. For a teacher to be effective, it is important that we recognize the factors that permit teachers to perform their roles effectively and those that do not.
Careful selection of trained teachers is followed by a strong teacher development and support programme. A well-designed in-service training programme provides opportunities for teachers to
• be informed about the latest research findings in education
• be in touch with their inner self and professional development
• develop interpersonal skills necessary for meaningful interaction with school-age children
• learn from the strengths of experienced teachers in schools in India and abroad
• upgrade their skills and knowledge levels as teachers of an integrated educational curriculum
To address the needs of the teachers at Shikshantar, members of the core team regularly conduct training and professional support workshops. In addition, workshops are also conducted by resource persons from accomplished schools of learning and universities of higher education. Intense in-service workshops are conducted around each vacation of the school calendar. These are supported by fortnightly workshops where everyday situations are discussed, analysed and resolved to create enriching environments for both teachers and the children.
‘Literature in Action- Impact of Stories’ session with Paro Anand on 8th January 2022
After the winter vacation, didis and bhaiyas of Shikshantar virtually reconnected with renewed energies in a collective Circle Time; a customary practice in Shikshantar. What better than Stories! Stories are closely embedded in our curricular experiences for children at various ages. An engaging session with Paro Didi ‘Literature in Action- Impact of Stories’ widened mind sets with exchange of perspectives, listening to stories and reflecting on our experiences.
Paro didi shared her own story and journey as a writer, stories behind the books authored by her, the impacts of stories on the minds of the children, adults and their responses. Importance of exposure to stories on real situations and topics closer to children’s context to provoke a closer thought, understanding and discussion. Providing a non-judgmental and space of trust for children to relate and respond; observing their responses through their questions and body language.
Creating opportunities for children to choose books that they connect with. Enabling young minds to question and think beyond…Paro didi read aloud excerpts from few of her interesting books such as ‘The Other’, ‘NomadsLand,’ ‘Like Smoke’, ‘Being Gandhi’ and ‘Unmasked’. Stirring deep emotions and reflections, stimulating the impact of stories with her remarkable story narration.
She also inspired us with her initiatives to reach out to children with limited exposure to books. A Bal Sahitya Puraskar winner, Paro Anand is an Indian author of books for children and adults including novels, short stories and plays. She is also a part of Shikshantar’s Governing Council.
Induction Programme – 2016
The teacher training programme in Shikshantar is an ongoing process, Induction Programme is a step in a continuum of professional learning for teachers. It empowers teachers to create an effective ‘teaching learning environment’ and also evolve as an individual. This year 30 team members were part of the Induction Programme. A well thought out plan was created taking inputs from the supervisory team members and the core team members. A holistic development of teachers is a pre requisite for the holistic development of children. Sessions were spread over the months of April and May.
Sessions included educational philosophies and work of educators and thinkers such as Erikson, Piaget, Lilian Katz, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Models for facilitation of sessions included sharing of classroom experiences, interactive discussions, reflective group work, case vignettes and power point presentations which reflected the application of theories and philosophies in classrooms. Children’s anecdotes and observations shared by the facilitators helped in widening the understanding.
As the programme progressed, teachers were able to analyse and draw linkages between different philosophies and their application in classrooms. What are the natural movements and changes which children go through as they move through different developmental stages, how we can address their needs through the curriculum and enable a sensitive and inclusive learning environment. As some of them shared,
Case vignettes were drawn from within the school context. Team members were divided into groups to reflect on the diversity of learners in the classrooms and deliberate on questions such as ‘Where is the child?’, ‘What should be the learning goals for the child?’
Teachers were completely immersed during the soulful experience of “Awakening the Psychic”, it evoked their spontaneous and intuitive self, “I feel connected with myself when I look at my shadow, there is a mystery and I feel I am that mystery.” “I connect with myself when I am in the hills, there is greenery all around and the sky is blue and clear.” “When I am near the water, I become the water and the water is me. I experience bliss.” Feelings, emotions and memories found their forms through strokes of brushes and colours as soothing music played and calmed the senses. They summed up the experience as, “Awakening the Psychic of Children begins with being in touch with our own Psychic.”
Art, music and yoga sessions were organised and teachers created an understanding of their integration in the curriculum.
The outcome of the Induction Programme was enhancement of the mental, vital and physical being of all team members and also awakening of their psychic being. It has also led to the expansion of our community of thinking and feeling individuals.
As expressed by a team team member, “We learnt about the true spirit of education where there is faith in the learner and education that respects the child as an independent being and provides space for each and every child’s growth. An education that is holistic, where there is a perfect harmony and synthesis in the physical, emotional, psychic being of each child.”
Session with Satyanand ji