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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Learn, Out of the Box Teacher Training: The WHYs and the HOWs

12 States
2000 Teachers
100 batches of trainings
5 months
Refresher trainings every 3 months
Trainings conducted in English, Hindi, Telugu, and Assamese

These figures are still not indicative of the actual emphasis we give to teacher training as an integral element in the implementation and success of our project. 

The project is teacher-centric, focused on developing and supporting teachers to integrate a variety of interactive and innovative teaching-learning methods in the classroom using technology. Since teachers play a key role in student learning – they serve as an effective medium through which we can impact students. Moreover, working with teachers multiplies the impact, enabling us to reach over 25-30 students annually through each teacher.



The WHYs of Teacher Training

Creating sustainable change

We provide technology as a tool to enhance the process of teaching-learning in the classroom. However it is the teacher training that allows teachers to integrate and adapt these innovative methods to their classrooms. The goal is to develop the skills and capacity of the teacher, creating a sustainable model for change in the classroom rather than creating a dependence on technology.

Providing Technical Guidance

Most often, even if latest technology or resources are available to them, teachers struggle when it comes to using them. Many of our teachers are computer illiterate and find technology daunting. Trainings are an important medium to help teachers overcome this fear through demonstrations and closely guided practice.

Building Relationships

The project is largely dependent on a strong relationship with both the school and the teachers. Trainings are the key to developing these relationships as we gain the teacher’s trust both in our staff and in the project itself. 



The HOWs of Teacher Training

Core Features

Focus on Content

Trainings focus on Maths and Science content – with all examples and demonstrations being content specific. This is an important feature to ensure that teachers understand how the technology and teaching-learning methods can be integrated into their specific classroom situations.

Focus on Teaching-Learning

Our trainings go beyond technology, focusing on teaching practices. The goal is to provide a platform to introduce, demonstrate and discuss creative classroom ideas. For example we have sessions to demonstrate: how gaming can be used to teach; how to build observation and discovery through science experiments; and how to break down math word problems such that students can easily relate.


Active Learning Methods

Our trainings are designed to incorporate similar learning methods as those we encourage teachers to use in their classrooms. Training sessions are focused on creating opportunities for teachers to observe, be observed, receive and provide feedback, and both lead, and participate, in discussion.

Structural Features

Duration

It is important to strike a balance between conducting a training that is long-enough that teachers have sufficient time to engage with the content and collaborate with each other, yet not too long, that teachers get overwhelmed and saturated. Keeping this in mind our trainings are generally designed to be covered in 4-days – keeping each day to approximately 6 hours.

Form

The trainings are designed as a series of shorter, structured activities, rather than an ongoing lecture or conference style training.  We find this gives teachers the opportunity to constructively engage with and understand the material. 

Participation

Trainings are restricted to math and science (6th and 7th standard) teachers. Additionally we limit our training size to between 20-25 teachers. This ensures that each teacher receives adequate attention and is able to participate in the training as it holds relevance to their classroom. Moreover, even if teachers come from different places or backgrounds, they have this commonality on which to collaborate and discuss.

Needs-Based

Trainings are adapted to the specific location-based needs of teachers - this includes training location and safety, dietary requirements, transportation and timing amongst many other factors.


Training Design

We use a similar outline for an initial training across all locations; however subsequent refresher trainings will be designed based on specific teacher needs.

In designing our teacher training plan, we:  interviewed teachers at phase 1 schools to understand their needs and interests; collated and incorporated feedback from our trainings in Phase I; consulted teachers that currently use technology in their classroom; researched best practices in teacher learning and professional development; and continue to incorporate feedback received from teachers, trainers, and other experts.  Click here for a broad outline of our initial teacher training.