Pallavan Learning System’s Two-Day Workshop for Chiragh Junior School, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
by the Pallavan Learning Systems Team
Pallavan Learning Systems designed and organized a Professional Development Programme for the faculty of Chiragh Junior School, Meerut. The programme was designed to be a part of our training workshops after the summer break in the academic session 2022-21. This programme was developed for all staff in pursuit of the belief that learning is lifelong and to help them with Technology in the online transition keeping in mind the needs of students and the teaching -learning experience. In this context, since education and learning are lifelong processes, it is particularly important for schools to encourage all teachers and staff to pursue professional development, not only to ensure the best teaching- learning practices and outcomes for their students using the online platform but also to be more effective and fulfilled in their respective roles during these difficult times of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chiragh-PLS team used the Google Meet platform to conduct the two-day Professional Development Programmes on 23 – 24 June 2021 from 8 am to 12:30pm IST. During the workshops, all staff were given opportunities to learn and develop using programmes that focused on working in smaller groups for better outreach. The programmes were technology driven in an effort to help faculty develop a deeper understanding of work in the following areas:
- Introduction: How Children Learn Multi Sensorial Learning in a Virtual Class
- Classroom Management for Effective Online Teaching & Learning
- Pedagogy to Online Learning
- Technology as an Enabler
Pallavan Learning Systems believes that in order to ensure wholistic growth, it is essential to focus on the Five Areas of Development. Toward this objective, looking ahead, PLS will continue to encourage and give opportunities to all teachers to widen their horizons through workshops. It is therefore part of the PLS team’s plan to design and organize more virtual Professional Development Programme sessions for all staff at the Chiragh Junior School, Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
PLS held several meetings with the School Management as well as from a select faculty nominated by the school to understand the ground reality and the school’s needs and aspirations. The Professional Development Programme was designed in consultation with the School Management.
PLS also conducted an online survey using Google Form to understand the current level of skills, understanding and use of technology from each teacher. As the School iis using Google Suite for Education, PLS decided to use the same platform for its engagement so that we could showcase through example the maximum use of the apps for online engagement.
The data collected from the survey was analysed which gave the team clear ideas on where and how to pitch the training.
Introduction to Online Teaching and Learning: Paying attention to Multi Sensorial Learning and Wholistic Education in a Virtual Class
by Dr Saroj Thapa
The first part of the session with all staff of Chiragh and PLS team was intended to get to know each other and to establish a common understanding of the strengths of the teachers and the problems they are facing in terms of engaging students in online classes.
A short presentation was made to introduce Pallavan Learning Systems, its philosophy, the team and its plan for the 2 days workshop. It was also made clear that it was not just a two days workshop but a 6 month long process of mentoring.
The PLS team acknowledged the tremendous effort made by the teachers to transition to online teaching and to learn the technological skills required for the purpose. It clearly displayed their dedication to work and the rigour they put in in order to meet the needs of the students.
The teachers are facing a lot of stress because they find it difficult to cover the prescribed syllabus. It is because of their focus on converting their physical classroom lessons to online sessions. The online sessions do not provide the same number of contact hours as the physical school does. Therefore, trying to cover all units in the syllabus is a very stressful task. One may, by rushing through the sessions, cover the syllabus and in that way the teacher may feel she has completed her responsibility. But then the question that looms large is whether the student is learning anything. The focus of online engagement should not be for the teacher to teach but for the students to learn. Therefore, it is very important to get out of the fixation of completing the syllabus. Instead we need to distil out the core competencies that the syllabus is trying to cover and all lessons should be focused on covering those competencies.
Teachers also raised the issues of children not being serious about the online classes. In a normal scenario the children get ready for school and then they come to the school. By the time they are in their classrooms, there is enough time for mental preparation and transition from home to school. In the formal atmosphere of the school, they are conditioned to be disciplined learners. But when your home becomes the school and online lessons are either in the kitchen or in the bedroom, the children are also laid back and not so serious about the lessons. Therefore, it is important for both teachers and parents to understand that online lessons have to be taken with seriousness. The children have to be ready for the school – preferably have suitable furniture and not be lying on the bed.
For student engagement and learning we know that a multi-sensorial experience is very important. This becomes difficult during the virtual sessions. However, with pre-planning and creativity it is possible to use the easily available resources at home to bring in activities, projects and movements that make it more interesting and engaging for the students. Even adults find it difficult to focus on the screen for online lectures for more than 10 minutes. Therefore ,it is very important to break the virtual classes into short segments and break the monotony with different kinds of engagement.
Further, the lessons should not be simply to pass on the knowledge that is prescribed in the syllabus but it should focus on the Five Areas of Development for wholistic growth – cerebral, social, emotional, physical and spiritual areas. The online lessons have resulted in the students feeling disconnected and isolated. It is more important now than ever before to nurture the students and make them feel connected and safe.
To ensure that we are able to provide the best possible engagements we have to make sure that the students are learning and are nurtured. For that we have to constantly assess our practices and its impact on the students’ learning. Assessment cannot be confined to the end of the term or end of the unit exams but it has to be a continuous process. There are various ways to check students’ learning as we go on, not just the written tests and exams. And assessment cannot be only about students’ learning; it is also about teachers’ ability to engage the students and to encourage their curiosity to learn. Teachers need to reflect continuously on their own practices and constantly be in the learning mode themselves.
Hence the PLS engagement with Chiragh Junior School is to empower the teachers in this process of creating engaging online learning experiences for the students.
Classroom Management for an Effective Online Teaching & Learning Environment
by Sangeeta Doraiswami
Bearing in mind the challenge of transitioning to online learning in the context of the continuing Coronavirus pandemic, a 2-day workshop on Classroom Management for an Effective Online Teaching & Learning was organised for teachers from grade levels Nursery to II on 22-23 June 2021, by Sangeeta Doraiswami from the PLS team. Through this overarching topic, the workshop was able to provide specific focus on the design of classroom setup, planning, circle time, story time and reflection in a manner that supports the most effective teaching and learning. Careful attention was given to learning outcomes on an online platform and on teacher attitude, values, culture and diversity, time, health and emotional management. The workshop also focused on identifying ways to make the classroom environment most wholistic for learning,
The workshop was interactive and discussion-based, so as to ensure maximum participation. A PowerPoint Presentation was also prepared and shared during the workshop, so that there were immediate and visual takeaways for the participants. Many online apps and strategies to curate an effective planning for online teaching-learning were introduced and shared with the staff through hands-on activity and live demo.
Additionally, through the workshops, teachers were oriented to adapt more seamlessly to online teaching-learning methods, with specific effort to make the experience of virtual learning effective and meaningful. In the continuing pandemic environment, it was the considered view of the participants and presenters that it made sense to continuously hone capacity and skills of teachers through collaboration by setting up Google Classroom.
Embracing New Paradigms in Teaching and Learning
by Ranu Bhattacharya
The global pandemic has challenged teaching and learning in multiple ways across the world. Learning to adjust to a new environment of constantly shifting scales – online, in-person, hybrid – has seen teachers struggle, question, adapt, experiment, research and adopt new ideas to support their students, families and learning communities. “How to thrive, not just survive?” in such an environment was the underlying leitmotif of the 2-day workshop on Embracing New Paradigms in Teaching and Learning organised for teachers from grade levels 3 – 5, on 22-23 June, 2021, by Ranu Bhattacharyya from the PLS team. Using the GROW coaching model, which supports learners by identifying their individual Goal, the Reality of their current situation, the Options available to them, and the Way Forward, Ranu shared powerful and productive teaching strategies that build communities, establish student ownership of learning, use time wisely across synchronous and asynchronous schedules, and allow for multiple ways for student to respond in online learning environments, through the effective use of technology. The workshop was interactive and discussion-based, addressing the immediate needs of the teachers and envisioning the way forward by anticipating future needs. Throughout the 2 days, Ranu shared practical strategies to increase student engagement, infuse fun and energy in the classroom, solidify knowledge of available platforms and tools, plan, teach and assess collaboratively and build capacity among teachers in the school.
Technology as an Enabler
by P. Mohan and Choki Wangchuk
P Mohan and Choki Wangchuk from Pallavan Learning Systems conducted a session on “Technology as an Enabler”. The session was designed as a demo session to demonstrate the functionalities of useful online resources and to give them an opportunity to try out the tools on their own.
Based on the teachers’ responses on the Google Form, P Mohan presented graphs to show the technological tools that teachers of Chiragh were comfortable with and the resources that they were not well-versed with. Focusing on the tools that teachers were facing difficulty with P Mohan conducted a demo on the use of Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides for effective teaching and learning, both online and in the physical classroom. He also displayed the various ways that Google Jamboard could be incorporated for activities and discussions.
Then, Choki Wangchuk asked the teachers to plan a simple learning activity that they can conduct with their students using Google Jamboard. The teachers were advised to use as many functionalities of Jamboard as possible. Then, there was a demo on how Padlet could be used for collating responses in a fun and interactive way. As an activity, teachers were asked to use the Padlet link to note what they knew about technology before the workshop, what they have learnt during the workshop, and what they would like to learn moving forward. Choki Wangchuk concluded the session by stating that we need to move beyond using technology as an enabler and strive towards using it as a motivator, as an enhancer, and as a transformer.