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Shikshantar

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“THE FIRST principle of  true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or taskmaster, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil’s mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process.

He does not impart knowledge to him, he shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself.  He does not call forth the knowledge that is within; he only shows him where it lies and how it can be habituated to rise to the surface. The distinction that reserves this principle for the teaching of adolescent and adult minds and denies its application to the child, is a conservative and unintelligent doctrine.

THE SECOND principle is that the mind has to be consulted in its own growth.  The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher is barbarous and ignorant superstition…

To force the nature to abandon its own dharma is to do it permanent harm, mutilate its growth and deface its perfection.  It is a selfish tyranny over a human soul and a wound to the nation, which loses the benefit of the best that a man could have given it…

THE THIRD principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is, to that which shall be…  We must not take up the nature by the roots from the earth in which it must grow or surround the mind with images and ideas of a life which is alien to that in which it must physically move. If anything has to be brought in from outside, it must be offered, not forced on the mind. A free and natural growth is the condition of genuine development.”

SRI AUROBINDO

 

Children’s Literature and its integration in the curriculum (Monday, 3rd of July 2017)

After a rejuvenating summer break, the team reconnected through an enriching session on ‘Children’s Literature and its integration in the curriculum’, facilitated by Paro Anand.

Paroji is the author of more than 26 books for children and young adults, including plays, short stories and novels. A performance storyteller, Paroji has performed her stories in many parts of India, UK, France and Switzerland. She runs a programme, Literature in Action on the use of stories in the holistic development of young people. Paroji has recently been honoured with the ‘Sahitya Kala Academy award 2017′.

The session was inclusive keeping in mind that teachers from Playgroup – Class XII and our auxiliary/admin team members were all part of the same. Powerful narration, stories of and from children, experiences with village schools and first generation learners who have never seen a book – all this was sensitively built in the session.

The dialogue with teachers was inspiring and included how stories can generate awareness and lead to exchange of thoughts on sensitive issues such as violence and gender. Also how a simple story can be facilitated for various age levels and give way to varied discussions.

It moved forward with her book ‘Like Smoke’, whose opening line ‘I hate Muslims’ has created furore, bans and accolades too. Widening our mind sets, the take away was also that ‘it is not just the story but what we do with the story’.

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Induction Programme – 2017

A facilitator in Shikshantar establishes her first connect with the school through a walk in the school premises, absorbing the surroundings, understanding how each and every space contributes to enhancing the learning experiences of children. Thereafter there are days of making observations in classrooms, interactions with supervisors to share experiences and seek clarity. This is how they also build their initial linkages with the school philosophy and practices.

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 leads to development of the ‘self’ as a thinking and feeling individual. This year 36 team members were part of the Induction Programme. We believe that nurturing children is a collective responsibility. Often parents have exhibited their willingness to be associated with the school as parent volunteers and offer their services. This in turn requires a certain kind of readiness, understanding of classroom practices, a synergy in thought processes and ability to establish linkages between school philosophy and practices. Induction Programme equips parent volunteers and prepares them for supporting classroom facilitation or any other work with children. This year 4 parents were part of our 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, Vygotsky, Lilian Katz, Aurobindo and the Mother. There was an intensive planning and preparation for the facilitation of all sessions. 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, “Every lesson plan must address the three principles of learning and most important ‘near to far’, also to ‘awaken the psychic’ all three principles must be thoughtfully integrated in the lesson plan.” “My windows to the world around me have opened and hopefully I will be able to do that for my children.” “I now realise the significance of ‘doing’ in understanding.”

Case vignettes were drawn from within the school context. Team members were divided into groups to reflect on the diversity of learners in the classroom 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. Art, music and yoga sessions were organised and teachers created an understanding of their integration in the curriculum. They went through hands on experiences such as project work and later made presentations around project work for a week. The session on “Structure of the Day” brought clarity regarding the seamless infusion of our curricular practices with the structure of the day for children at various age levels.

The outcome of the Induction Programme was the development 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.

According to some of the team members, “Induction Programme has helped me grow as a person, brought maturity in understanding relationships, learning processes and connecting with my own self.” “We feel more empowered and ready to work with children, have more clarity regarding how to respond to situations.”

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Understanding Autism

Our Vishvas team facilitated a session on ‘Understanding Autism’ for Primary School teachers on Friday, 31st of March 2017. Purpose of this session was to empower all team members to develop a collective understanding of autism and integrate the same in their work with children. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by delayed development of social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and non verbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.

The session was interactive, facilitators reflected on their present understanding and implementation of strategies in their respective groups. Art and music therapy corners were facilitated to provide an experience to all facilitators.

Through researches we know that Autism is caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. Each child with Autism is unique. Many of those on the Autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills.

We’re at an important crossroads right now: almost everyone has heard of autism, but not everyone knows how it influences us. And people’s understanding varies so much. One way or another, we are going to reach the other side of that crossroads. And what autism awareness looks like at the other side depends on how we choose to talk about it now.

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