Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Celebrate the mistake

By Dawa

From April 30-May 1, 2015, I attended a five-day training at DKCLI, Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh India, called: Bringing 21st Century Methods into the Monastic Classroom, lead by Mrs. Jaya Das of Singapore. The training was attended by more than 40 Rinpoches, lamas, tulkus and khenpos including Dzongsar Khyenste Rinpoche, Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, Avikirti Rinpoche, Thartse Khen Rinpoche, Tulkus, Khenpos and teachers from DKCLI, Sakya College and Chokyi Gyatso Institute (Dewathang in Bhutan).

One of the many things I learned over the five days was that it's important to cherish mistakes, especially in the field of education. If there are no mistakes, no learning will take place. If students are not afraid to say something, they are not afraid to think and make mistakes. Valuing mistakes means valuing many good ideas and thinking.

Mrs. Das taught that today, with the rapid advancement of technology and social media, the teaching and learning process in the education sector has been enormously challenged. There are many fascinating things to divert the students' interest and attention from learning effectively in the classroom like cell phones, television, videogames etc. Now one of the important questions we teachers have to ask is how are we going to make the teaching and learning process more interesting, engaging and learning?

The workshop, which was sponsored by Khyentse Foundation, was conducted to infuse the 21st century competencies in the teaching and learning process, enhance lessons using brain-based learning, incorporate active learning strategies and building rapports in the class. We learned that students can be engaged with the lessons best by using active learning strategies and brain based learning. Active learning strategies provide opportunities for participation of all the students through different attention signals, valuing interactions, collaboration, team work, pair work, and respecting student-centered classroom.

As a teacher, providing an appropriate learning experience like teaching each other between students, practice doing what they are learning, discussion, demonstration and audio visual are also important part in the lesson to help students with retention and motivation while learning.

We teachers must have an awareness of how the brain learns. This knowledge will help engage learners to do it with the strategies that are based on how our brain works and also recognize different kinds of learners in the classroom-Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic and Tactile learners.

One of the strategies to activate our brain is physical movement like walk, clap, move around, talk, laugh, jump and use our body parts in an fun way as much as possible in line with lesson.  
Not to overlook and very important to consider is making student's everyday learning product relevant and practical in the context of everyday life.

The 21st century teaching and learning is all about feeding the needs of 21st century students and absolutely not fitting the circle shape through square shape.

Personally I feel the training was empowering one. I have started to use some of the active learning strategies that I have picked from the training like cheer up, team building, ten minutes talk and two minutes stop, discussion etc. These learning strategies I have observed are very helpful in keeping the students active and engaged with the lesson.

- Lopon Dawa