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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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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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Insights from an Intern

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Chahat Kaur interned with us in the month of July 2018, she is currently a second year college student at Claremont McKenna College, California, USA.

Education to a child is what soil is to a plant. It provides a platform for a child’s
growth. On the land of education, learning is one of the key sources of knowledge that
nurtures a child’s mind. As the metaphor continues, a child is exposed to several
sources of learning; one of the initial one’s are educational institutions – schools.
These follow specific guidelines for examining the child to provide an unbiased
education to each child. The guidelines of learning, in schools, vary amongst
countries and are distinguished mostly, by their affiliation to the boards of education.
The boards are examining systems, which organize education for students to be able
to grasp knowledge in the best manner possible. With the emphasis on the “learning
by doing” approach, the schools have deviated from a traditional classroom
environment to a modern high-tech experiential one. These changes have been
prompted due to the awareness, in parents, regarding reasonable experimental
practices that should be exercised by the teachers at the school.
The irony of the system, however is that the schools claim to provide education
through “learning by doing” approach but do not train the teachers in the same
fashion. The style of teaching holds individualistic values (varies with each teacher’s
experience), however it is imperative to observe if the style aligns well with content
assigned by the boards. The hands on learning approach is essential to have but
cannot be practiced efficiently if the teachers are not trained effectively.
The I Am a Teacher Program (IAAT) focuses on practicing the theory, which is
taught during the lectures. The theory includes modules on learning about school,
classroom and student culture. The program respects the individualistic teaching style
of the teachers, but also focuses on teaching a common set of guidelines essential to
teach students across all grade levels.
It is interesting to note here is that even though the style of teaching is different for
teachers and these trainings are mostly the same for all, there is still a certain degree
of variation in classroom functioning of each board. The CBSE exam pattern is based
on the questions given in the NCERT books, whereas the IGCSE exam questions are
based on the findings from the experiments performed in class. Much like we
appreciate the hands on learning approach, we should also fathom the need for putting
into practice the theory that is learnt by an individual to become a teacher.
Education empowers you with the ability to ponder over the intellectual challenges.
The IAAT program catalyzes this process of thinking and encourages teachers to
contemplate the purpose of education. During the course of this program, the teachers
explore this purpose and put it to use while imparting education.

Chahat Kaur
IAAT Intern



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Student in Focus: Anuradha Kishore – From clinic to the classroom


The IAAT class is a diverse space with students from various walks of life coming together to enrich the learning experience in unanticipated and spectacular ways. The presence of Anuradha Kishore is one such addition. A graduate of AIIMS and the Royal College of Physicians, London, Anuradha has over two decades of experience as a paediatrician and has been running a private clinic for the past 13 years. Apart from providing an invaluable perspective to us all, Anuradha is thoroughly enjoying the process of becoming a learner again. Here is her story in her words.

What is your life’s dream?

My dream is to work with children who have special needs and different capabilities. I have always enjoyed being around children, working with them and for them. In my 20 years of experience as a paediatrician I received immense satisfaction in terms of helping young beings find relief from their immediate ailments and providing guidance for their growth. But I felt one big lacuna which still needed more inputs from us as child health-care professionals – the field of special needs education. I wanted to contribute to this need in some effective manner. With that passion in my heart, I began my path in the field of education.

I would first like to attain a sound knowledge base about teaching and learning of young minds and gain reasonable hands-on experience of working with children in the elementary years in a progressive and inclusive school. After gaining enough experience of the methodology, content and pedagogy of various parts of learning in the youngest age group I would like to gain further experience in a specialised environment dealing with differently abled children.

Just as we follow the learning approach in Medicine where we first master the normal body anatomy and functions before knowing how to diagnose abnormal and devise an intervention, in Special Education too the first step to learn would be how to detect a problem no matter how subtle it is in the early years and then plan a well-rounded approach to help the child achieve his/her true and best potential.

As the majority of such special children are just marginally away from the expected normal range, with the right inputs at the right time, we can surely help most of them make a significant difference to their lives and attain the required life skills to survive and subsist in a challenging world.

How does being in the classroom help you in what you want to do? What do you feel like you’re gaining?

For the experiential part of my training at IAAT I have been assigned a KG class at Heritage Xperiential Learning School Gurgaon that has 30 students with 6-7 of them needing extra inputs from the teachers at every level. Being there with my Collaborating Teacher and co-tutor thrice a week for the entire school day I get a complete hands-on experience of what steps are needed to conduct a fruitful learning experience, starting from pre lesson planning, co-conducting lessons to review meetings and feedbacks at the end of the day.

Through this process, I have been able to see the various challenges that a teacher faces and needs to handle on a day to day basis while keeping the pace of learning going. It’s heartening to see how compassionately my co-teachers are making sure all the students are gaining knowledge through their own capabilities without missing out on any opportunity.

Being with children in the clinic and in the classroom – how different are they?

It is similar yet different being with children in the context of a school environment compared to what I have experienced before. Dealing with 1-2 children at a given time in a clinic setup where each interaction would last for 15-20 minutes is very different from being with 30 of them together but in a healthier setup where they are bursting with energy and enthusiasm for the whole day.

Now I feel the need to encash on my physical stamina too while keeping my thinking cap on all the time as these children throw a new challenge at you every few minutes.

However, the speed and consistency of attentiveness needed in both situations are alike and I feel it’s a blessing to work with the purest form of beings who are so honest and generous when it comes to giving a positive or a negative feedback!

You’ve been part of this programme for almost two months now. How far do you feel you’ve come as an individual? What kind of growth/challenges are you experiencing?

I have truly enjoyed the journey I have covered in the last 7 weeks at IAAT. It has been an awakening in many ways. I always knew how much I love the company of young children and how much I value what they have to tell the world in their own sweet ways, but I have now discovered how patient we need to be as adults to allow them the time and space that they all need in their own different journeys of growth and fulfilment.

Without doubt I have grown as a person too, grown more expressive, more compassionate, more inquisitive and more at peace with myself and the world around me.

Maybe the path ahead is a long one but I feel I’m not alone. I have my colleagues and friends who are as passionate about making a change to the present scheme of things as I am. Together we will cross all hurdles and find the momentum we need to keep this ball rolling.