Wednesday, December 21, 2011

REC's Master Teacher Training

Much has been happening in the world of Lho Mon Education, so much that I haven't had time to write up any reports. In short, I couldn't be more pleased with our final line up of LME partners. I will share details about the final two soon. 

Meanwhile, I am spending this week and next at Paro's Khangkhu Resort observing the Royal Education Council's master teacher training for a select group of educators from the REC Beacon Schools, which are testing out the latest innovations in education. Six of Paro's Beacon Schools, or Seed Schools, are participating in the master teacher training (from a total of 15 Beacon Schools in Paro and Thimphu). This week's course is the fourth in the series with a special focus on brain based learning, classbuilding, and teambuilding, critical thinking and active learning. I'm soaking up every word like a very thirsty sponge.

The instructors are from Singapore's Educare and they are, in a word, fabulous. Mrs. Jaya Das keeps all of the teachers completely engaged and animated from the beginning of class until our final tea. We have so much fun. At one point today the whole room was literally in tears from laughter.

The reason for the laughter was the result of an exercise in communication. About twelve of us lined up against the wall facing in one direction. Mrs. Das turned the person at one end (which happened to be me) around and showed a series of hand movements. Nothing elaborate, but I was immediately flustered. I was to turn and tap the next person on the shoulder, and as soon as she turned around, show her the movement, and so on down the line. What started out as a simple touch of the shoulder, ribs and hip, turned into the most hilarious wing flapping movement. As the final teacher did his goose dance, all of us grown adults were in stitches like little kids.

Mrs. Das gave us a minute to let us quell the giggles, compose ourselves, and wipe our tears. Then she asked: What would have generated more accurate information transfer?

The answer? When teachers demonstrate something once and expect students to grasp it entirely, there is sure to be a problem. But if a teacher demonstrates something, lets the student try it out, guides them, revises and then lets them work on their own, the chances are the student will truly absorb the information.

In turn, her own method of having us interact, be active in the room, have fun, helped us absorb that information. So it was a lesson within a lesson. And there were many more lessons throughout the day.

I am deeply grateful to the REC for letting me sit in on these important sessions. Twelve of these master teachers will participate in our July Curriculum Development Workshop so it's been great to meet them, learn about their experiences as teachers in Bhutan and as participants in this groundbreaking program, and to play! At lunchtime, Aum Tashi told me that she applies what she has learned from these trainings and the students have transformed. There is a new sense of security and belonging that has increased student self esteem, reduced discipline problems, and created a learning environment that allows her to be a better teacher and the students to be better students.

Anyway, I could gush on and I probably will!


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