If you have any preconceived ideas about schools in India put them away right now. Today our group of 11 teachers, our coach Annette Udall and our tour organizers Bianca and Brenda split into two groups for two schools for our Instructional Learning Rounds and enjoyed observing the students, teachers and their work.
The students are learning in English. Most speak Hindi or a dialect of Hindi, and English is an additional language. At the school I visited we observed three separate literacy lessons. The teachers are ‘fellows’ who spend two years teaching before they progress into other careers of their choice.
It felt very similar to being in a class of newly arrived students to Australia. The students were of varying abilities and there were no support staff. We saw anchor charts, word walls, students in rows, students in groups, blackboards and chalk, displays of classroom values and reward charts. However, there were no interactive whiteboards or fancy furnishings.
We heard teachers praising students, applause and encouragement of students, students talking to each other, teachers modeling language and students repeating it. There were questions, answers and turn taking as students were encouraged to be respectful listeners.
The students were happy and confident as they came up to us at recess and asked us what our name was and how were we feeling. (These children were currently learning the vocabulary for feelings) 🙂
During the tour of the K-12 school, where we saw a STEM lesson in progress and sighted a swimming pool, we were joined from the group from the other school. Unfortunately, they reported, it was not so well equipped. The school we are at is unusual.
Lunch was provided as well as cool drinks in a conference room. Here we were split into our two groups where we shared our observations and then put them on post it notes under the headings of, students, teachers and content. What we recorded were facts – what we had seen with no ‘wonderings’ attached.
After this we shared our observations and then the other group added any of theirs that were different. They were mostly similar.
From here we were given a few minutes to write down what was done well on three post it notes. These were stuck on a sheet under the heading of ‘celebrations’.
Finally, we quickly wrote down one ‘I Wonder’ on a post it note that would be our focus for collaborative lesson planning the next day.
This done, we shared the celebrations with the ‘fellows’ we had observed.
Finally to top it all off we went with our fellows to visit some of the families in the community. They were potters and their homes were behind their wares. Two families kindly opened up theirs homes for us to come and look inside. We felt most welcome.
Tomorrow is our day of collaborative planning with our professional partner and our ‘fellow’ teacher. I can hardly wait!