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School-Based Teacher Preparation- Possibilities and Challenges

In this article, Indumathi S. and Sameera Sood, Teacher-Educator at IAAT, explores the way in which IAAT‘s model is key to preparing competent teachers- while sharing some challenges for the same. Published by NCERT in Volume VII Issue I (August, 2018) of Voices of Teachers and Teacher Educators.

This article discusses the school-based teacher preparation model run by a not-for-profit organisation called I Am A Teacher (IAAT), Gurgaon. This is a one-year Post-Graduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching (PGDLT) programme. This course prepares teachers through a model where Student-Teachers spend a minimum three days practicing in a host-school. This article describes the mentoring model and highlights how teachers are prepared through a blend of theory and practice. The voices of the Student- Teachers are presented through reflections and narration of their learning experiences. It briefly highlights the challenges of such a school-based model.

Read more at: Read more on page 99



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Circle Time

– Thelma D’souza, PGLDLT-Aspirant, IAAT-ASB, Mumbai

At the beginning of our IAAT session, we were introduced to the Morning Circle. “Morning Circle” What’s that? Wait, let me brief you about the Morning Circle.
A Circle has no corners, right? Yes.
Standing in a circle helps to be connected, a feeling of oneness. As everyone is given space.

Elements of Morning Circle
 Greeting
 Sharing
 Energizer
 Greeting: As salutation such as “Dear Fourth Graders”, or “Good Morning, Friends!“
 Sharing: Any academic or social skills.
 Energizer: Any movement based activity to get physically and mentally started.
Guidelines For Following Morning Circles
 The teacher is not a leader but a mere facilitator
 Teachers need to set rules
 Objectives to be planned

How Does Morning Circle help?
 The transition from home to school serves well for the teacher as well as students.
 Easy to gain attention for teacher and students
 Start with a free mind
 Begin the day with a happy note.
 Showcase talent both for teacher and students.

Now, taking all the above into consideration, I geared up for my first Morning Circle.
Looks and sounds easy! Ah  ah……no no. A thorough planning is required. It was a challenge to lead ..Lots of apprehensions, How, When, What? Will I be able to engage them? What about discipline?….needed to seek help, so I approached my Collaborating Teacher at ASB, also took some suggestions from my IAAT Teacher Educator and my colleagues.

The children began entering the classroom. They eagerly read the salutation. At the sound of the chime, they all sat on the carpet. I played an A.V. “Greetings in different countries.” The children were glued to the screen.

A bright smile lit up their faces on seeing their country. A soft shrill echoed as India and USA greeting was
displayed on the screen. The video generated a lot of enthusiasm. This boosted my confidence.

Soon, the children adopted their own personalized greetings for their pals.
Now, it was time for sharing. Here I used an academic skill-literacy skill (Phonics) asking children to name any particular food item associated with their name initial. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves, racking their brains like-
 Veer likes Vada-pav
 Lily likes Lettuce
 Tara likes Tortilla

Finally, the much-awaited energizer!
Everyone had their own choice, “Hot potatoes, See Saw” …….were the appeals heard? “No ways”, thought I! We need to save our lives. I see burning bushes. So off we go. Fire on the Mountain…..run run…
– Oh how the children enjoyed themselves! They exclaimed “more! more…!”. Some pleaded for one last time, but I had to disappoint them as there were time constraints, but I promised them, ”Maybe some other time”


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From A Chance Classroom 

In this article, Chirag Arora., a resident-teacher at IAAT, Gurgaon, shares his experience of creating an impromptu roadside classroom.

‘The breadwinner’ was the movie I watched a few days ago. I was overwhelmed by the story of the girl who showed the courage to step out from her house for her family to survive. While watching the movie, I knew, “I would not be able to forget this girl and her story”.

After a few days, I met a new version of “the breadwinner” while I was sitting on the concrete bench in a South Delhi market. Her name was Rainav. Out of nowhere, she appeared in front of me, a five-year-old girl wearing torn and shabby clothes, yet with a pleasing smile. She said, “Please give me some money”. Striking a conversation, I asked, “Why do you need money?” There came a well prepared, standard reply, “I want to eat something.” I took out my lunch box and shared some fruits with her.

While she was eating, I observed her arms which were marked with pen-marks. These pen-marks reflected her choice to learn. Strewn across the back of her palm were crude pen-marks of A, B, C, D.

I asked her from where did you learn this? Perhaps seeing an unexpected response, she promptly replied, “school mein sikha”. Then, the conversation of few minutes followed…

Me: school jatein ho aap?

Rainav: haan, jati hu main.

Me: aaj nahi gayain aap school?

Rainav: school to 1 bje hota hai na. yahi pass mein hi rehti hu mein. Apko pata hai meri teacher ne kaha hai, ki agar hum sub class mein padhenge na to wo nayi uniform le kar ayengi humare liye.

Rainav: pen dedo mujhe ek. Likungi mein.

I took out my kit with pen and chalks. When I gave her one pen and a paper to write, one could see the excitement in her eyes. Interestingly, this also attracted the attention of a group of other similar children, and they all came and started demanding for pen and paper. I took out my stationary kit and distributed pen and papers to them.

One child came and asked for a new pen because the one he was carrying was not working. I gave him a chalk to write and told him that he doesn’t need paper for this – he can write using chalk anywhere, be it wall or bench, or even ground.I  observed this group of boys and girls for about 15 minutes and felt quite satisfied as I could see their craving for writing on paper or with chalk overcome their desire for begging to eat. I am sure we have encountered so many kids who come to beg and we often feel uncomfortable dealing with them. Instead, in this case, despite surrounded by fear of society and family constraints, they still managed to create their own space of joy and learning. They were talking, sharing, and engaged in learning by doing – no noise, no person walking by, or the heat of the sun, or Delhi’s pollution came in the way of their engagement with their learning. I sighed in amazement-”If I could bring this kind of engagement in my classrooms… I would consider myself a competent teacher!”

I shall remember these “Breadwinners” for a long time.

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Classroom Culture

The only working model of socialism I have ever seen is in an elementary school classroom



Most classroom practices, rules and practices are rooted

in the school values

According to my observations, I feel each teacher lends a unique flavor to his/her class. Each seemingly insignificant action of the teacher is actually not a random but a well thought out act. The teacher is the role model, and by being consistent in his/her practices and behavior, he/she becomes the living example of the values. The students invariably pick up and inculcate these values.

The classroom norms and practices are arrived at after discussions amongst all the students of the class. All the ideas and thoughts are considered and there is active participation by all the students. The value of ‘inclusion’ is very evident as children show receptivity to all ideas. The norms are not imposed by the teacher. The students realize the importance of having certain guidelines for the smooth functioning of the class. Since they exercise freedom in choosing their own rules, they feel responsible to follow the norms as well.

There is a sense of ownership and it is displayed in almost all the actions of the students. The students play an active role in implementing all the routines – taking attendance, distributing stationary and journals, collecting and arranging books in the book corner, arranging bottles in the bottle corner etc. The striking feature of such practices is that students become more attentive and aware and are thus in a better position to notice inefficiencies and take corrective action. For instance, the student in charge of organizing the bottle corner every morning noticed the chaos that ensued in the afternoon when students rushed to collect their bottles. The following morning she requested for permission to distribute bottles to all the students at the time of closure to avoid the chaos.

One of the most important value that is being cultivated in the students is to practice self-discipline. Whether it is listening attentively while others are speaking, waiting for their turn before speaking, winding up the tables, arranging the chairs back under the table each time children get up so as to not block the path, or waiting patiently for their turn to move out of the classroom without obstructing others’ way – each of these practices convey an underlying value of respecting others.

Social learning is also very important aspect in the classroom. The teacher utilizes various opportunities to encourage children to reflect on their conduct. For instance, an accidental fall of a middle school student in the corridor while running, was used as an opportunity to initiate a discussion on reinforcing the rules to walk down corridors. In such a process, students observe the behavior of others and its consequences, and as a result modify their own behavior.

Similarly peer learning is also an integral part of the classroom. The children are seated in crews to facilitate group work. Children are assigned in groups after a careful examination of various factors. For instance very fluent readers are paired with progressing readers, a high energy child paired with a low energy child and so on. Children who are able to finish their tasks early welcome the opportunity of helping their peers. There is no competitiveness, rather children appreciate and applaud the progress made by their peers as they feel equally responsible in contributing to peer learning.

To sum it up, the classroom culture is more about co-operation and self esteem rather than comparison and thus provides a joyful learning experience to all the students.

Visit link for more Courses for teacher training


Harjeet Kaur, Resident- I am a Teacher

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A vision for the teacher in me


Meenakshi Gupta

The word ‘educator’ brings images of hundreds of thousands of children growing and learning with their teachers. An educator has huge social and moral responsibility. She is a mixture of various roles and personalities like of a mother, a guide, a visionary, a friend, and sometimes an elder brother or sister.

As I read and think about great teachers like Aurobindo, the Mother, Tagore, Gandhi and Krishnamurti, I try to imagine how much hard work, especially on the self, is needed for one to become a teacher. An educator first knows herself, seeks how she learns in different phases of life, dwells on what constitutes learning and teaching, what is knowledge, and the various ‘how’s and ‘why’s of education. It seems to require a lot to be a teacher. I can say that to be like an educator is almost like being a yogi.

My fears

On one hand, becoming an educator is my aspiration. It comes from an inner wish, an inner voice that tells me to do something for the joyful and true learning of children. I like to be surrounded by a lot of children and interact with them. But as I mentioned earlier, being a teacher is an enormous responsibility. I carry a fear whether I will be able to do justice to that responsibility. Since we are all products of our conditioning, we often behave in ways that we have learned in our childhood and what we see around us. Will I be able to undo the effect of such conditioning? Will I be able to unlearn old practices so I can open up to a more integrated approach to learning? Will I be able to carry with me a flexible mind?

There are many more fears. Being a teacher will require full alertness and persistent patience to listen to each child. I fear that some of my words or behaviour may damage the child’s feelings or self-esteem. I fear that I might not be able to give them sufficient freedom and opportunity to explore, make mistakes and learn thereafter. I fear whether I’ll be able to connect their previous learnings to their immediate environment, providing them with relevant contexts or prepare a conducive environment for learning with safety, love and care where they can construct their own knowledge.

Krishnamurti has said that comparing a dull student to a cleverer one is cruelty. In my own school experiences, comparison was rampant. But according to Krishnamurti, this only causes fear in students. It is the barrier to a clear understanding of oneself and life.

My hopes

I have started on this journey with a lot of hopes, with courage and determination. Fears exist but I am ready to face them and turn the shortcomings into opportunities of learning. With an attitude of a lifelong learner, I hope and strongly believe that I will be able to put effort and succeed.

With the help of this programme and my mentors, I hope to learn all the things which will help me to become a good teacher. I hope that I learn to see learning in its wholesomeness. I feel that integrated learning is required for the complete growth and development of a child, not its division in fragments and individual subjects. I hope that, as a teacher, I can create and maintain the curiosity of children to enquire and learn joyfully.

All in all, I hope I can become an educator who can touch the lives of my children in positive, constructive way.

Meenakshi is a student of PGDLT at IAAT