Academy and government teachers exchange knowledge | Aga Khan Academies

Academy and government teachers exchange knowledge

03 January 2018
The Academy’s Collaborative Discussion Forum (CDF) extends modern teaching methods to government and other not-for-profit schools, both locally and regionally. 
Nine CDF sessions took place during the last semester, covering a broad range of pedagogical topics presented by Academy faculty to participants from partner government schools.
Vasanthi Thandlam’s session on Classroom Management on 3rd November brought together 30 government school teachers to share experiences. The educators discussed the process of organizing the classroom such that behavioural problems are minimized, essential agreements are upheld, and educational goals can be accomplished. “It is vital to have interactive classrooms by providing opportunities for open-ended and thought-provoking questions,” commented Vasanthi. “We have to keep in mind that the one-size- fits-all model isn’t applicable anymore. We need to differentiate teaching in the classroom by designing lessons based on students’ learning styles." 
Vasanthi’s session continued with an in-depth discussion of the SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model, which includes lesson preparation, strategies, review and assessment. The session concluded with a reminder from educator Tyler Hester that “classroom management comes when students are loved and respected in the classroom.”
Rajesh Kayiprath’s session on 10th November, focusing on debate-based assessments, was similarly interactive. The Academy teacher fostered a lively group discussion on inquiry-based learning. “In order to develop critical and argumentative skills among students, teachers should be well-prepared,” remarked Rajesh. To inculcate such abilities, teachers debated and presented arguments on diverse issues such as the use of nuclear energy as a global issue. 
Academy economics teacher Jina Saha’s 30th November session maintained a two-pronged process to achieve twin objectives – to share expert knowledge of international trade on the one hand, and to demonstrate classroom activities with minimal directives from the teacher on the other. “Activities need not be expensive,” Jina said. “Learning is directly proportional to how many sensory organs are involved and how many heads are coming together.”
Averil Courtney, a Montessori expert from Ireland, volunteered at the Academy from mid-October to the end of November. During her CDF session, Averil crafted a workshop in which teachers participated in a “Maths Trail.” Once participants were divided into groups and given topics such as arithmetic, geometric shapes, and measuring, they were encouraged to see how their immediate environment could be used to teach these concepts. “To create stimulating and interesting activities for students, you need look no further than your backyard,” the seasoned teacher contended. I come from a Montessori background where everything is integrated. So I liked the idea of using nature and the gardens on campus for zoology classes, botany and biology." 
All in all, Averil’s experience was both personally and professionally fulfilling. “It’s always nice collaborating with other teachers. It’s a great experience working with others who are dedicated to education. There’s always so much to learn.”
A healtfelt thank you to all participating teachers in the CDF program. Your insights and collaboration are more valuable than words can say!