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Transformers - Agents of Change

Teachers are catalysts, providing the much-needed energy to drive the change towards progression. Prayoga, through its education research, strives to play the role of a promotor - small but much essential for the functioning of the catalyst. To this end, the 4th series of the Teacher Empowerment Program was organised between 12th-14th June 2024 at Prayoga Institute of Education Research.

Dr. H S Nagaraja, Chief Mentor at Prayoga, welcomed the teachers at the inaugural event by emphasising that teachers should uncover portions of knowledge rather than cover them, thus making learning an open-ended process. He highlighted that everyone was gathered for a common cause and asserted that we must nurture the new generation of learners to be ready for the futuristic digital world. Encouraging rational questioning in children is a significant step in that direction, as curiosity is the first step in learning. It is of utmost importance that they build their competencies, apply their knowledge and contribute meaningfully to society. The magnitude of the impact that teachers as changemakers can have is immense, even if each of the 100 participating teachers reaches out to their 200 students.

Dr. K S Nagabhushana, Director of Research at Prayoga, illuminated the role of a teacher in a student’s life. He emphasised that students can achieve great heights with ‘ಗುರು ಹಿಂದೆ ಗುರಿ ಮುಂದೆ’. Drawing a parallel between light and a teacher, he highlighted that when the light source is at its brightest in the centre, the shadow diminishes and the darkness is eradicated. Likewise, when a teacher shines with full brilliance, they can profoundly brighten a student’s life.

During the inaugural ceremony, all the teachers adopted a resolve to be the best possible teacher and enable their students to learn science the experiential way. Under the mentorship of Dr. H S Nagaraja and Dr. K S Nagabhushana, every participating teacher took the following oath -

ವಿಜ್ಞಾನದ ಶಿಕ್ಷಕನಾದ ನಾನು, ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳಿಗೆ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನವನ್ನು ಅನುಭವಾತ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ಕಲಿಸಿ, ಅವರನ್ನು ವಿಶ್ವಮಾನವರಾಗಿಸುವಂತೆ ಪ್ರೆರೆಪಿಸುವುದು ನನ್ನ ಕರ್ತವ್ಯ ಹಾಗೂ ಅದನ್ನು ಸ್ವಇಚ್ಚೆಯಿಂದ ನನ್ನ ವೃತ್ತಿ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಸದಾಕಾಲ ನಿರ್ವಹಿಸುತ್ತೆನೆ.

As a further step to nurture curiosity in children, Dr. H S Nagaraja said that teachers should encourage inquisitiveness and discovery among children through an activity called “Habitat Hunt”. India, being rich in natural resources, could house many undiscovered species that children may bring to light. Any information and details of such supposedly new living species encountered by a child can be shared with researchers at Prayoga, who will guide them through the discovery process and its publication.

No two learners are the same, and no two classrooms are similar, making it crucial for a teacher to be equipped completely in his/her armour with different strategies to manage any classroom situation. To this effect, the first Teacher Empowerment Program (TEP) for this academic year was conducted. This marks a progression from the three workshops held last year, underscoring the necessity for continuous professional development.

Dr. Karuna K Simha, who is a senior researcher in the Education Research team and Principal Investigator for Kriya Research, presented the learning outcomes of the teachers over the last year supported by data. She highlighted how the two tests conducted, pre and post-tests could help assess multiple parameters. This comprehensive analysis demonstrated to the teachers the effectiveness of their ongoing training in refining teaching practices and the path that lies ahead.

Beginning with a session to recall all the theories and skills learnt in the workshops conducted the previous academic year, this was a step further to enable and empower the teacher to evolve and meet the challenges arising out of the needs of student development. The spectrum of discussions ranged from pedagogical theories and their implementation in a classroom setting to theories behind experiments. Practical sessions that ensued met the objective of familiarising the teacher with resources provided by Prayoga to better facilitate the experiential science learning process.

The novelty of these programs, where theory blends with practicals, remains the highlight.

The key events included the launch of Labstation 3, a comprehensive set that includes all the essentials for the science practical classes of grade 7, along with materials to restock consumables required for grade 6 practicals. Another important highlight was the introduction to the embellished revised courseware. The education team at Prayoga revamped the courseware to place more emphasis on the child’s writing practice, aesthetics and focus on specifications. The inclusion of the concept map at the beginning of every chapter, presented as questions to instill inquiry-based learning, was provided as a guide to teachers. Here, every concept or principle is connected to one another, with each question in the map leading to the next possible question that the learner may want to discover and understand. This updated approach was presented to the teachers with an openness to receive feedback.

As always, the workshop was comprehensive, covering science content, pedagogy, classroom strategies, among other topics. One expertise of the resource persons at Prayoga that consistently deserves appreciation is their bilingual fluency, to even conduct technical sessions seamlessly in both languages.

The scope for further intellectual collaboration between Prayoga’s education team and the teachers was unveiled. During one session, the topic of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) was addressed, proposing that teachers, along with academic coordinators, frame HOTS questions for their respective subjects. The resource persons at Prayoga will assist in advancing this initiative and guide it through to understand the level of higher order thinking skills among the different districts of Karnataka. The intention is to involve teachers in understanding higher order thinking skills so that the teacher makes an effort to improve such thinking processes in their classrooms. Additionally, the education team requested that teachers bring to light any classroom problems that could provide context for research and aid in developing better strategies for teaching-learning processes.

Shri. Vallish Herur, Managing Trustee of Prayoga, encouraged teachers to design their own experiments based on their learnings. The organisation would help in communicating their findings and innovative solutions as a publication to the teaching fraternity. This initiative aims to provide further impetus to Prayoga’s goal of empowering every teacher to be a researcher.

Prayoga aspires for every school to transform into a complete experiential learning centre and reiterated our commitment to journey together.

The valedictory ceremony was presided over by Smt. Sumangala, Director of the Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT). Addressing teachers as ambassadors of change, she said that the best reward for a teacher is a student’s smile and that the system would always support the teacher in their journey to grow and transform.

During the Vote of Thanks, Dr. K S Nagabhushana, on behalf of Prayoga, expressed gratitude to SSK (Samagra Sikshana Karnataka) and DSERT in providing support to the organisation and its endeavours. DSERT was highly appreciative of the utility and quality of the labstations that Prayoga is providing to its partnering schools at no cost and expressed a wish for them to be accessible to all students across the state. The benefits of Kriya, not just to students but also to teachers, was highlighted. The facilitator copy provides ample space for the teachers to prepare for class without needing an exclusive lesson plan. Captivated by the research conducted at Prayoga, it was also suggested that Prayoga provide supplementary reading material for students especially in subjects like Geography and Earth Sciences.

The feedback from teachers witnessed some overwhelming moments. Shri. Mahesh P R from Chikkodi, notices a difference in children who attend Kriya classes and those who do not. He recalled how other children at the school also requested to become part of Kriya. As a science teacher, he says the difference between teaching with and without aids is apparent. Expressing gratitude for the facilities that Prayoga provides, he mentioned that for a school which is so remote, being able to access these resources is invaluable.

Shri. Vittal, a non science teacher with 19 years of experience from Bagalkot, shared how transformative these TEP workshops have been for him. He acknowledged that it has enabled him to utilise provided resources and conduct science classes. The initial apprehension and fear have been replaced with confidence. He fondly recounted a touching moment when a child, deeply inspired by Kriya classes, vehemently refused to go along with his parent’s decision to be shifted to another school, insisting on staying to continue his cherished learning experience.

One feedback was that resource persons at Prayoga suggest which pedagogical skills to apply for each of the science topics. It was validly asserted that the teachers use their creative freedom to tailor their lessons to suit the requirements of every classroom.

All teachers expressed that children are deeply involved in science classes, taking responsibility for right handling and preservation of resources provided to them. Teachers agreed that student-teacher relationships have deepened and their responsibilities have increased but also promised a more effective learning process.

The program drew to a close with the teachers leaving with their adequate thoughts and actions plans, ready to use and aiming for growth, progression and transformation.

Deepika S


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