What started as an informal discussion between our foundation’s President, Bibhuti, and Ms. Yashodhara Pant, who was visiting her daughter in Pittsburgh, resulted in one of the most comprehensive and effective Teacher Training Program ever in Pharping. Ms. Yashodhara and Bibhuti were attending No Menu Monday, a benefit dinner for Rukmini Foundation, and Ms. Yashodhara, who is professor of pedagogy and a founder of a prominent private school in Kathmandu, gave few advises on how to implement teacher training.
After Ms. Yashodhara returned to Nepal I visited her and together we planned how to conduct a result-based teachers’ training in Pharping. Ms. Yashodhara introduced another professor, Dr. Ganesh Singh, who also specializes in teaching methodology, visited Pharping region for assessing the needs of the teachers. After the visit, Dr, Ganesh drafted three and a half day of teacher training module. The main theme of the training was “Active and Thinking Teaching Learning Method”.
The training, which took place in October of this year brought together 39 teachers from 6 different schools of the Pharping region. The training focused on alternative teaching methodology like: “Think Pair and Share (TPS)”, “Classify, Categorize and Organize”, “Read, Summarize and Question (RSQ)”, “Directed Reading Activity” (DRA) “Snowball”, “Jigsaw”, “Relay-Race”, “Pen in the Middle”, “Semantic map”, and so on. These methodologies were designed to enhance the participation of students in the classroom and the teaching methods were very new to the participating teachers. Among the 39 teachers, 6 teachers were selected for additional training as part of Training of Trainer (TOT). These teachers will act as the trainers for similar future trainings in the region.
Upon completion of the training, I spoke with a few teachers about the session and the feedback from them was very positive. Said one teacher, Mr. Gajendra K.C of Setidevi School, who participated in the Training of Trainer session, “ I have attended so many training sessions in the past conducted by the Ministry of Education, but I found this particular training to be more effective because the trainers gave us not just the theory but also the practical methods of teaching”. He continued “ I also participated in the TOT and now I will make sure that I teach these methodologies to other teachers of my school. I hope to be a trainer in the future so that I can provide training to teachers of more remote schools of the region.”
Mr. Binod K.C., Principal of Shikharapur School was also very grateful for the foundation’s facilitating of the training. He stated, “Since very few teachers from Shikharapur have ever received a formal teaching training in the past, this training was very useful to us.” He continued, “As the Principal, I would like to thank the trainers and Rukmini Foundation for this great opportunity and I will make sure that our teachers take these methodologies to the classroom and not just leave it in the training room.”
Ms. Balkumari Shrestha is a pre-primary level of Shikharapur School mentioned that all of the methodologies that she learned during the training can be directly implemented in her class. “Before coming to the training, I had never heard of these methodologies like Snowball and Relay Race, but now I think I can implement these in my classroom so that the students will be more active and involved. I was very happy when Rukmini Foundation brought Ms. Sagun to teach us about Early Childhood Development (ECD), and now I am even happier that I could attend this training for alternative teaching techniques.”
Although the feedback was mostly positive, there were some concerns about practicality of the methodologies for the upper level classes. Mr. Shree Krishna Mahrjan of Pharping Higher School pointed that ”These methodologies are suitable in the lower level classes, but not for 9th or 10th graders because we are all focusing on passing the School Level Certificate (SLC) examinations.” We appreciated this honest assessment and understand the importance of passing tests, but we are looking to truly change the way students learn and develop critical thinking skills. We hope that these new methodologies will help, not hurt, the chances of those students doing well on the SLC exams.
While there is still some work to do to implement these ideas in the curriculum, most of the teachers expressed that the training was hugely beneficial. I believe that a follow up in the classrooms is essential to see whether the methods are being implemented. Dr. Ganesh promised us that he would volunteer his time for a follow-up session in the near future. We are truly grateful to our two trainers and all the participants who took time out of their busy schedule to attend. We hope to conduct more of these training sessions in the future.
Once again, we would like to thank Ms. Yashodhara Pant for leading this effort and helping us realize this opportunity. Many thanks to Dr. Ganesh Singh for sharing his knowledge with us and thanks to all of the participants who are giving the extra effort to improve the quality of education in Nepal. We will have a follow-up post by one of the participants, Mr. Amit Lama, a teacher at Shikharapur School about his impressions regarding the training session. Stay tuned for that.