Teacher support programme to build capacities to teach and learn in the 21st century

Client : Bal Bharati, Rewa,India

What I Did: Learning Experience Design, Programme Development, Conceptualisation, , Research, Toolkit Development, Faculty Engagement, Team Lead

Date : 2017 – 2018

Optimised Resources Teaching & Learning (ORTL) programme is a teacher support programme that empowers teachers to engage with students effectively and make learning fun. The pilot programme was inaugurated with primary school teachers of Bal Bharati School, Rewa. English Language and communication was mutually chosen as the focus skill. 

Before the programme started, a baseline reading and comprehension test was administered for every child in the participating class to determine their language proficiency.  Through language learning toolkits and lesson demonstrations, I introduced a wide range of innovative learning strategies like storytelling, word games and role plays to the school teachers who then incorporated it into their everyday teaching and learning.  Besides implementation of strategies in the toolkit, students were also given independent task to be completed as mini projects through the academic year like keeping a learning journal, reflection boards etc to make learning visible. 

Three interactive teacher seminar and remote communication with the teachers not only helped to review progress but also enabled me to understand and correct the hiccups of programme implementation. 

Towards the end of the programme, an end line reading and comprehension was test was administered.  An important finding was the upward movement of students across classes in reading and comprehension tasks. Determining every child’s  current level of proficiency in reading and comprehending English not only helped to  quantify learning, but also formed an important data  while providing support and reading material to students. 

With the knowledge of each child’s reading level, I was also able to set up a small library for the school. Over 1,200 books from leading children’s books publishers like Pratham, National Book trust and the like are now a part of the school’s collection. These books are segmented according to reading levels (I, II, III and IV) such that it is easy for students to navigate and find a book that interest them. 

Some important observations and learning for me were: 

a. Since this was the first time teachers participated in a professional development seminar conducted by an external organisation, there was anxiety, compliance and a significant playing out of the ‘observer effect’ with participants modifying their behaviour in response to their awareness of being observed.  

b. The dominant teaching style within the school is chalk and talk where learners are expected to listen, watch, record and attend. The language toolkit with their emphasis on participatory learning where students are encouraged to ask, express and create was functionally opposed to the conventional teaching routine. The road to the adoption of the new model was therefore slow and bumpy. However, within the limited period of time, teachers showed willingness to learn and adopt innovation in the classroom.  

c. Some teachers devised new ways of increasing class participation, like pairing up a girl and boy or choosing students from different rows. Students were more invested in learning when they were allowed to decide or modify rules of the game or plot of the story.  

d. Preparation is key for successful implementation of a lesson plan. It was observed that some teachers prepared well for their class and used their knowledge of the student’s learning levels to personalise activities.  

e. In general, students showed keenness to learn new words, improve their spoken and written English. The importance of English language proficiency is not lost upon them and there is moderate to high level of motivation among students to learn and strengthen their language skills. Motivation is crucial for learning to occur. 

In conclusion, it was an absolute pleasure to spend a fantastic year with the teachers and students of Bal Bharati listening, sharing and demonstrating ways to transform the classroom into a stimulating learning experience!