Karkhana started off as a team of 5-6 members. It had a few set of teachers and a limited number of students to work with. In the small team, it was easier to see the growth and keep track of the progress of all individuals. To see how a person was growing as an individual was easy which made it easier to see the growth of the team itself. But now the team has grown and expanded to a larger team of people. We have members from multiple backgrounds:
Some are engineers, some are aspiring psychologists, some have dreams of making our country a better place to live in, some know how to get their hands dirty with tools and some have a way with numbers and words. The availability of team members from such varied backgrounds and field of work has impacted the trajectory of their growth. Moreover, with the team expanding in itself from a mere number to a larger team, cratering to over 17 schools and teaching around 2400 students every week has been a leap for us. With the expansion of the family and growth of the team, it has become a challenge for us to understand and keep track of the growth of all individuals. To add more to this fright, with everyday challenges getting stronger than before, it has also been a lot easier to get lost in the mundane things in life.
The cycle of entering a class, sharing experiences and designing learning experiences for the students might be a tedious, monotonous task for an everyday routine. In order to keep the spark of teaching alive and continue making the teaching, learning process a better experience, Karkhana came up with the concept of Teacher Development sessions. Understanding the importance of all that is involved with teaching and sharing experiences, it becomes clear that teaching stands as a complex job. It also requires teachers to be up to date with techniques and tools to deliver an excellent learning experience for the students.
Now, what actually is Teacher Development?
Teaching, in Nepal, has basically been considered as the last career choice for everyone. If you cannot find a job or occupation that fits your qualification or schedule or skill, you can go be a teacher. This mentality has been built into minds of people in the country in a deep rooted manner. Come think of it, many of us even now take teaching as the last career choice. The concept that one needs to follow and implement a set of rules and guidelines while teaching and that there is very few if not much to explore when it comes to teaching has been a major reason for the implantation of this mindset. But it is necessary to change this mindset, isn’t it? Keeping this in mind, a set of contents and plans have been designed. These contents and plans involve an expansive set of activities that allows teachers to enthusiastically participate and work on activities related to many fields and aspects such as: drama, technology, computing and many more which may be linked directly or indirectly with their field of teaching. These methods, contents and plans are basically dots to connect to a bigger picture.
I also had a talk with Mr. Suresh Ghimire, a BC teacher and a co-founder at Karkhana, who also ran a couple of sessions in the ongoing Teacher Development Session. One of the sessions that he had conducted in the TD session: Incorporating Critical Thinking in Education. For this, he had prepared a set of images which the participants did not just have to observe and remember the details of but had to analyze, which means that, they had to figure out what is there in the picture and why it is there. Mr. Ghimire said that “Making Things Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners” was the book that illustrated ideas for him to come up with this concept. The activity for this session required minimal resources making it more of a minds-on task rather than a hands-on one. Moreover, the activity encouraged participants to speak their mind regarding the particular picture immediately instead of noting it down and sharing their ideas later.
Speaking of the feedbacks that the participants gave after the session, Mr. Ghimire expressed that most of them were surprised by how such minimal resources could be used to conduct a session of that kind. Also, he added that the session helped changed the mentality of the teachers themselves towards the classes they had been conducting in the past days. Before the session, most of the teachers had said that in their classes, students worked on projects to build and make something. After the session was completed, the teachers shared that they understood the main idea was not to let the students build something, rather it was to make them understand the necessity and application of the projects and activities that they do.
Bringing together all of these unique ideas, the Teacher Development Session has been designed with a set of activities and sessions like: Theory of Change, Discussion on Unpacking Thinking and Rote Learning Vs. Meaningful Learning, Teacher as Change Maker and many more. With these activities and sessions we believe that a change in the perspective of the team will be seen bringing about a change in how everyone puts in their effort at work.