Thursday saw us all teamed up for planning 12 sessions in preparation for conference days. Whereas in the UK, we would normally have more breaks in between planning, it was a huge task and meant that we only managed to plan 2 of the 4 days. This was a little bit demoralising to know that we would have to plan at the end of the following exhausting days after work.
Never the less, Friday arrived and we took the short bus ride to Kathmandu International School where the training would be taking place. Once there, we sat up our classrooms and waited in anticipation of the local teachers arrival. How much will they know already? Would we be patronising them? Would they understand us?
Working alongside two other Fellows, one American who teaches in a school for the deaf and a Polish national who is teaching in the UK, I felt we had a good wealth of experience to draw upon should we struggle. Upon meeting our 12 local teachers, it was initially awkward as we played the usual ice breaker ‘get to know you games. I still have yet to learn names even on day 3 as my memory is terrible at the best of times!
The day went reasonably well with sessions about Growth Mindset and Behaviour for Learning and the teachers were very receptive to the ideas we shared. It was however personally demoralising for me as they fedback how they struggled to understand my British accent. It did make for an evening of mental preparation how I could adapt how I spoke for day 2.
Saturday was a lot better as we all knew each other now and everyone seemed more relaxed. In addition, they understood me a lot better as I spoke slower and had even more visuals. The first session was largely led by my fellow colleague about Special Needs. This was something that we felt was very important to give training on as this is an area that is not well recognised in Nepal. This was evident in how we asked the teachers if they had any special needs children in their schools and only one talked about it. However, once we explained about various needs including physical, behavioural and emotional, other teachers had a lightbulb moment and said “Ah yes! I know a child like that!” They even requested further training in this area which is a huge break through and a real triumph!
Other sessions included differentiation, questioning and group work.
Upon the initial survey we gave on day one, teachers did not understand what differentiation was and even after we had explained it, none of our 12 teachers did it. This meant that the potential for impact in the session was huge and they all mentioned what they had learned in the end of day reflection.
The questioning session went very well and I used a questioning grid that had been adapted by Michael Henry at Redbridge Primary School based on previous work around Bloom’s questioning strands. The grid was so useful that many other groups asked to borrow it for their questioning session. The teachers really saw the benefit of asking open questions and had a practice in pairs.
The group work session was by far my most favourite as we used ‘The Art of Noticing’ poetry as introduced to me by Claire Holt in Bradford years ago.
We paired the teachers up and took them outside where they had to use their senses and notice the environment, making notes as they went. They then joined as groups of four to create a group poem which they then had to present however they wished. Most chose to sing and some added actions. One of the best things was linking it back to the previous differentiation session where we had explained about a ‘gold, silver, bronze’ system where students can choose how to access the content at their own pace and the scaffolding for stretching the higher attaining children. In this case, they went from ‘I can see a bus’ to ‘I can see a yellow, school bus’ to ‘The sight of a school bus as yellow as the sun’.
I think the importance with all of the training is remembering that they have large class sizes, sometimes over 50, and that their rooms are small with rows of benches. This meant lots of explaining how they can adapt the games and sessions for their constraints with their students.
Sadly, I am missing day three as I ended up in hospital last night having banged my head and needing more electolights due to dehydration.
I look forward to the forth and final day of conference training tomorrow with excitement of follow up post observations of the teachers in their setting to see the impact of our input.