This response was a major statement in terms of what we witnessed through the series of
workshops that we recently organized, but before diving deep into the details of the response and what triggered it, let me give you some background about what these workshops were all about.
Recently, the LSEP team conducted a series of capacity building workshops for teachers, BRTs and DIET faculties of Tamil Nadu state government to assist them in creating State Learning Achievement survey (SLAS) papers for Science, Mathematics and Language. The duration of the task looked limited, but it was limitless in terms of its potential to trigger a long term change.
Teachers who attended the workshops came from various districts of Tamil Nadu and with them they bought their varied experiences of the education system. Each groomed in one particular way of teaching his/her students came with a pre-conceived notion about the training which made the first few days of workshop the tougher. There were moments of joy, disappointment, perseverance, re-learning and a lot of reflection which paved the way to collaboration that was not just working for SLAS tool development but also envisaged a greater vision of the teachers taking the learnings from the workshop to their districts and to their classrooms. This became the tipping point for our workshops.
We as a group were no more learning the steps to make good questions, but pushing each other to think on the lines of what our students know and what they should know at their grade levels and hence created ‘questions to assess understanding’
We moved from having sympathy for our students for not knowing an answer to setting up high aspirations for them and pushing them to think an answer, hence ‘transformed teacher’s outlook towards education for our students’. The outcome of this entire experience was ‘the inspirational teachers’ themselves began to initiate change in their classrooms.
One such teacher that I would like to mention was Mrs I Leema Rose, a science teacher in a government school who took a moment to realize the importance of this training. She was determined to change the lives of the students she worked with. Moving from teaching science she wanted her students to develop enduring understanding of the concepts they learnt for which she also started a small science lab in her school to help students internalize the learning. She independently managed this.
If one such training has the potential to trigger a change, I can imagine the power of long term sustainable interventions and trainings in collaboration with state governments that can help the state to identify a motivated bunch of teachers who can drive their own learning and use their creativity to drive their student’s learnings.
The statement that she made in the very beginning was the feedback from her during the workshops, which in turn made me realize how at times by following the conventional style of teaching we forget to bring in creativity in classrooms. Any change takes time. For this, we will need to take up challenging and new methodologies of teaching. This teaching needs to be coupled with unique methods/tasks. At times we tend to question the novelty of unique tasks and thereby fear taking up such tasks. This limits our learning and cripples our creativity. A single step taken towards bringing this visible change can bring about a radical transformation in the field of education. We need more people in the education field sharing their short stories of big change.