And the classroom became a joyous place to learn…

Author: Subhashree Pradhan, State Project Officer-TESS India, Odisha

IMG_3223When they say,“Ama Lipi didi (our affectionate teacher)” I feel honored and satisfied of my accomplishments as a Teacher. It took me a long time to get this space in the hearts of my children and now that I have got it I will always want to keep it.”- says, Lopamudra Panda – popularly known as Lopa, while she narrates her journey from serving as a Contractual Teacher at Kendra Vidyalaya to an Elementary School Teacher currently working at Mahulbereni Koilipangi Upper Primary school of Kakudibhag cluster in Dhenkanal district of Odisha.

It is just another Indian summer day and I am on my way to Mahulbereni Koilipangi school. This 15 kilometers stretch from Dhenkanal town has always been one of my favorites. One can enjoy traveling through the beautiful coverage of lush green farm fields, surrounded with mountains as much as relishing upon the freshly plucked farm produces being sold by the roadside. I just finished my last slice of melon, collected from the roadside vendor, and while I enter the school campus, I see students rushing to their respective classrooms after the mid-day meal break. Surprisingly, I see Bibek and Sheela- the duo who were continuously absent from the school, as learnt from my previous visits. To my curiosity, Lopa joyously exclaims, “They have started coming to school again and now they are regular. Finally, I nailed it.!”

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I could not wait any more to listen to the story behind and while I wait to hear sipping my cup of tea, I see Lopa assigning a task (something about rolling the dice to solve an equation) to the mathematics class of seventh standard and comes back to entail the story. She elaborates, “It happened few months back. I observed that two students of seventh standard were continuously absent at school and whenever they came, they sat idle. I wanted them to come to school regularly and bringing them back was not an overnight job. For that I had to struggle for months together. I tried almost everything- starting from convincing their parents through motivational story telling to exploring possibilities over the Internet to encourage them to get back to school. However, little did that work. This did not demotivate me and rather persuaded me to feel that, I ought to make my classroom a joyous place to learn, which would encourage my students to come to school regularly”.

Playing with numbers through a student centric approach…

“In this new venture, my students do most of the talking and I listen to them”- says, Lopa, while explaining her method of learner centric mode of teaching. I am just a facilitator who assigns the task, instruct them what and how to do and watch them performing. I guide them wherever necessary. Whether it is a group work or pair work or story telling or role plays or any other activity, my students perform and I enjoy as much as they do”. 

IMG_3202Very interested to see the work in practice, I approach towards group-I (as the teacher has named it). Simali- the group leader, introduces me to her group members- Priti, Shravani, Bibek and Vikram while they sit together to perform a task, “throwing the dice to solve an algebric equation”. Priti explains the activity to me -“all the members of our group will throw the dice one by one. Our group leader, Simali will jot down the numbers in her notebook and she will assign these numbers against the variables, X, Y and Z. Together we will solve the equation after discussing with each other. If any member of our group is not able to understand, we will help him/her. Our grIMG_3194oup will then present the answer before the class, upon which the teacher as well as our classmates will provide their feedback.Sneha and Nandini, doing the same task, but sitting in pairs, adds to the conversation by saying, “earlier we used to do it alone and now we do it together and it is so much fun”.

 

Changing minds… 

Soumya Ranjan, a student suffering from health issues, is also seen involved in the classroom activity, silently observing what his friends are performing. “There has been remarkable changes in Soumya’s behavior-the student who made noises and disturbed the class, earlier, is now an observant”-Lopa smiles.

Bibek’s come back to school….

 “Bibek is very fond of fishing and he helps his family in selling fishes too. I learnt this on one fine day when he came to my place to sell fish. To my surprise, when I handed over the cash to him, he quickly calculated them without the support of a pen and paper and returned back the remaining amount.  This struck my mind and I realized that he could do well in the mathematics class too. My students started talking about the classroom changes with their parents, friends- outside classroom, and this message did go to Bibek as well. Acknowledging Bibek’s interest in fishing, I assigned most of the exercises to him, which were related to fishing and gave him examples, which were of interest to him. Gradually, I saw him getting deeply involved in the classroom activities. After Bibek’s come back, soon, Sheela also joined the classroom”- says Lopa

 The motivating factor…

My eagerness kept on increasing and I became more interested to learn what motivated Lopa to think that way. Lopa answered my curiosity by thanking the TESS India Open Educational Resources and the Key Resources, to which she refers as her “Encyclopedia”. “These have provided me a plethora of knowledge and have answered to my queries on how, when and why”-she says. Whilst acknowledging the TESS India Key resources (print and online both), most of which she has been using in her classroom transactions, Lopa also mentions that, “I was familiar of all these resources prior to undertaking TESS India training for mathematics class-VII, in August 2015. However, there is some difference in the way I used to practice earlier and now.  For instance, I did tell stories to my students earlier, asked them to sit in groups, planned my lessons, provided feedback to students etc. However, with TESS India Key Resources, I became aware of using the methods in a systematic manner”.

The ups and downs…

While this conversation gets into depth, this success story unfolds the challenges, Lopa had to tackle through. She highlights, “it was a daunting task to get the boys and girls sit together while assigning group/pair work but I realized this was important. My children did not accept this change initially. Similarly, I struggled to meet the syllabus while keeping in pace with my lesson plans. I also found difficulty in assigning a common activity to my class which had mixed level of students. Amidst all challenges, the remarkable positive changes that I have seen have created win-win situations.  When asked about the most significant change Lopa has witnessed, she proudly mentions, “16 students out of 25 students (as compared to 10 earlier) in my class stand above an average mark today.”

More hands join together…

MVI_3232-010In between our conversation, during our visit to the neighboring classroom, children are seen sitting in pairs and their teacher, Sujata facilitating the process.

Meanwhile, Binodini Mohanty, the head teacher of the school, delightfully mentions, “You can see most of the teachers of this school practicing them in their respective classrooms”.

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Binodini was one of the participants of the school leadership development workshop
conducted by TESS India. In a conversation with her, she opines, “As a school leader, I feel it is my responsibility to spread the good work to all my classrooms and students so that all are benefited. And after the workshop, I decided to encourage all teachers of my school to follow TESS India Open Educational Resources and Key Resources and execute in their classroom transactions. And three other teachers-Manasi Das, Sushmita Sahoo, and Sujata Sahoo, have also taken part in the scale up training program of TESS India and are practicing it. They were also a part of the Massive Open Online Course on “Enhancing Teacher Education through Open Educational Resources”.

 Learning and Sharing…

“To make this process effective, all of us sit together once in a week with our head teacher to discuss over the lesson plans, reflection notes, classroom experiences, the progresses/challenges and learn from each other of what can be done better.”-say, Lopa, Manasi, Sushmita and Sujata, over   a discussion.

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It is indeed impressive to go through all of theirs reflection diary, where they write down their good as well as bad experiences from the classroom. All of them stress upon the importance of reflection diary by saying, “through this diary, we are able to evaluate ourselves and come out with a far more effective plan for the next class which results in an improved classroom”. While saying so, they appreciate and acknowledge the continuous support and on-site guidance they have received from their Head Teacher and Mr. Manas Sahoo, CRCC, and their peers.

Rise of new hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow…

The school bell rings and I bid goodbye to children and teachers, but my conversation with Lopa has still a way to go. We walk down to Lopa’s residence which is in the neighborhood. I have come here to see Lopa’s dream which she has often been talking about- the building, under construction which is going to be a coaching center in near future. The 30 year old Lopa aims to run this center for the underprivileged students of her village who are deprived of taking up coaching classes for preparation of competitive examinations.

Speechless and so much satisfied with this visit, I wish all her dreams to come true and travel back to share this story with my readers.

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Teacher Educators Conference 2016 – Karnataka

Teacher Education has become a key area of interest for educationists. The Teacher Education Policy in India has evolved over time and is based on recommendations contained in various Reports of Committees/Commissions on Education. These committees broadly talk about reflective practice, opportunities for self-learning, articulation of new ideas and developing capacities of teachers as the ultimate goal of teacher development.20160317093623

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Joint Review Mission, Karnataka (2014-15), also recommends continuous professional development of teacher educators through trainings, educational conferences and seminars as the teacher educators need to be aware and engaged with contemporary trends in education.

After the success of the first Teacher Educator Conference in 2015, organised by TESS-India and DSERT, the Teacher Educator Conference 2016 gathered education specialists to carry forward a dialogue on Teacher Education and quality in teacher training. The skills and capacities of the Teacher Educators needs raised in order to raise the bar of teachers in the school and hence to increase the learning level in the schools.

Most of the educational policies for Teacher Education talk about research, innovation and integration of technology in teaching. This conference aims to serve as a platform and bring together teacher educators from all the DIETs / CTEs, Educational institutions and organisations and eminent scholars to discuss / deliberate on the topics relevant to Teacher Education. The conference also invited presentations of thematic papers which supported recommendations for the Govt. in the area of Teacher Education.

The goals of this conference were to showcase the best practices in Teacher Education that supports professional development of the in-service teachers and also talk about research, innovation and trends in teacher education. The conference will support collaboration among practicing teachers and promote dialogue on innovation and integration of technology in teaching.

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TESS-India: A Composite Strategy to Enhance Quality Education in India

TESS-India: A Composite Strategy to Enhance Quality Education in India

by Dr. Simanchalla Ranjit, State Monitoring and Evaluation Officer-Odisha.

[Teacher Education through School base Support (TESS) is one of the felt need projects in a welfare state like India. It has all the potentialities to make teachers and students of the schools, especially government managed schools, to have a quality of teaching-learning practices on par with the private schools. It is a composite approach as well as strategy that has ability to address the academic issues of quality school education in India like, enhancing content knowledge of a teacher, abilities of their classroom transactions and ensuring a conducive school environment of teaching-learning practices by a Head Teacher. Hence, it could be opined that the TESS-India OER possess direct budding effects on promoting the quality of school education that could be strategically channelised through existing government wings and disseminated extensively by educational institutions. As a result of which the teacher fraternity in India, especially government teacher educators, elementary and secondary school teachers, will have virtually an opportunity to self-learn and enjoy easy accessibility to educational resources for enhancing their quality teaching-learning practices in the schools of India.]

Introduction

In the recently concluded state level TESS-India OER dissemination workshop for teacher educators of 30 districts of Odisha, Dr. Sipra Nayak, District Education Officer (DEO) of Focus District, Dhenkanal, Odisha gave her testimony that TESS-India OER has reduced Pic 1the distance between teacher and students in the schools under the project. In other words she explained during her inaugural address that she found a gradual extinction of barriers between the teachers and students. Prior to TESS-India programme, the barriers were so thick that always remained as a hurdle in the effective classroom transactions and interactions. The Officer while expressing her content with TESS-India programme, jubilantly shared with the teacher educators about how the teachers and students under the TESS-India focus district programme attended in the Cub/Bulbuls [Indian national integration programme for children (Cub for boys and Bulbuls for girls) in primary school] Programme were found to be more actively participative in all the activities of the camp organized from 13 to 15 February 2016 in the district of Dhenkanal, Odisha. They were easily identified through their behavior and the professional approaches of those teachers were clearly visible, the Officer shared.

Pic 2Interesting to find that some teachers and students, in the focus district programme, have now become so focused in their learning activities that their learning gaps are assessed to be considerably getting lower. The “class is ready for learning” could be clearly visible by any visitors to the schools. It is learnt from at least 20 teachers out of 100 teachers that the visitors’ positive feedback and comment and importantly paying attention to their professional efforts makes them feel proud of being in the teaching profession. This gives them an impetus to remain more committed to the profession and in-builds interests in them to spend more time for self-learning, self-preparation and conducting effective classroom transactions. TESS-India has the potentiality to bring about behavioural changes among the teachers.

Quality Education in India

Defining Quality in Education, a paper was presented by UNICEF at the meeting of the International Working Group on Education, Florence, Italy June 2000. The paper reads in its preface “Children have a right to an education, a quality education. Quality education includes: „ Learners who are healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate and learn, and supported in learning by their families and communities; „ Environments that are healthy, safe, protective and gender-sensitive, and provide adequate resources and facilities; Content that is reflected in relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition of basic skills, especially in the areas of literacy, numeracy and skills for life, and knowledge in such areas as gender, health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention and peace. Processes through which trained teachers use child-centered teaching approaches in well-managed classrooms and schools and skilful assessment to facilitate learning and reduce disparities. Outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society”.

NGO Pratham’s annual report on the status of education in rural areas in India showed that while enrolment in schools is higher, quality of education continues to decline. The Annual Status of Education 2013 report of Prathama read “close to 78 percent of children in Standard III and about 50 percent of children in Standard V cannot yet read Standard II texts. Arithmetic is also a cause for concern as only 26 percent students in Standard V can do a division problem. Without immediate and urgent help, these children cannot effectively progress in the education system, and so improving the quality of learning in schools is the next big challenge for both the state and central governments”.

TESS-India has a greater opportunity to facilitate quality education through school base support to teachers and teacher educators with the existing educational infrastructure of the state.

TESS-India and Quality Education in India

Looking into the TESS-India Focus District Experiment, it would definitely be considered that TESS is a composite strategy to enhance quality education in India. While, with humility and perhaps, to remain focused, TESS-India declares its aim as “enhancing teacher education through school base support” but it has a larger scope and opportunity for enhancing quality school education in India by directly focusing on the students and teaching-learning environment of the schools, especially those schools managed by Government. Because, this is the reality and contextual need of the country i.e. addressing academic issues of teacher, students and school management at the school points/base.

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Fig 1 depicts TESS-India as a composite strategy to ensure quality education India. It deals with teacher educators, teachers and head teachers so that their professional ability is enhanced and they become competent in the content knowledge of teaching, ability to make effective classroom transactions and the school become an environment of teaching-learning. Ultimately, every child in the school gets quality learning opportunity.

However, some research and academic work needs to be done for making the programme both teacher and school focused keeping the interest of quality school education in mind. Besides, there is also an opportunity for developing TESS-India OER for other subjects (social sciences). Teachers in the focus district opine that they are working on the key resources to make it subject specific. Developing activities and techniques of each key resource would also definitely be helpful for the teachers to enhance their abilities to prepare teaching-learning strategies. TESS-India could be supportive in facilitating the endeavors of teachers.

Scope of TESS-India to promote of culture of alternative learning

Education in India is changing fast but teachers in the elementary schools managed by government in the states are yet to change. Teachers are to get exposed to computer simulation, e-resources, e-learning and constructivist approach to inquiry learning, internet-enhanced learning etc.Pic 3

However, it is observed that due to limited Internet coverage teachers in the rural areas lack access to internet. Besides, the poor digital literacy of the elementary school teachers in the state deprives them from the use of e-resources. However, use of electronic devices mainly smart phone by the school teacher is intensifying gradually. Although slow, the pace of change is observed to be obvious in the classroom transactions by the school teachers as they are necessitated by the digital channels that are constantly growing in volume and strength. Taking a sample size of 50 elementary school teachers from urban areas in Dhenkanal district of Odisha a study was conducted under TESS-India project 2015-2016 to understand the status of digital literacy of the Elementary School Teachers who participated in the ‘Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)’. The title of the online course programme was ‘Enhancing Teacher Education through Open Eucational Resources’.

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The figure shows the frequency of use of mobile phone for information and communication that the majority of the respondents (63%) used it frequently, 26% of kjnthem used the device sometimes and the rest 11% used it rarely.  It could be inferred that, in the age of information and communication technologies, still a significant percentage of participants did not use mobile phone frequently. About the status of using smart phone having internet applications for e-resources, the analysis guessing that the percentage would be far lesser than that of the use of mobile phone here.

Figure 3

It is shown in the figure 3 that 13% of the respondents used E-mail frequently for their communication, 17% of the respondents used it sometimes and 13% of the respondentssdss used E-mail communication rarely. The majority of the respondents (35%) in this study had never used E-mail communication and at last the 22% of the respondents did not want to comment on this. When the last two figures (22% +35%=57% respondents) were analysed it was observed that more than the average respondents did not use E-mail communication. It is to remark that for using E-resources e-mail communication is one of the important requisites.

TESS-India through awareness building, convergence programme and other such innovative ways has enough potentialities to spread across an alternative ways of teaching-learning.

Conclusions and Suggestions

In the contemporary era of reckless commercialisation of education, TESS programme is an apt and most appropriate need based response to the hope of millions of children studying in the government managed schools in India to get quality school education, especially for them who come from socio-economically less privileged and/or not so well off categories. Resource scare should not be a hurdle and benevolence for quality education for every child should also take a center stage in decision making to strategically spread this programme throughout India. Besides, networking and alliances, partnership and convergence are always other possible options for making this a noble cause and a highway to “learning to live together”.

 

 

 

 

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TESS-India Project Support Indian National Education Policy Execution by Dr. Simanchalla Ranjit

TESS-India Project Support Indian National Education Policy Execution:

A Case Study of Odisha

By Dr. Simanchalla Ranjit, TESS-India State Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Odisha

After the Independence of India in 1947, education has been the central priority of the Government of India. With a spirit of establishing a uniform education system, the government of Independent India established University Education Commission (1948–1949) and the Secondary Education Commission (1952–1953). These Commissions aimed to develop proposals to modernise India’s education system. In 1961, the Central Government formed the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) as an autonomous organisation to advise both the Union and state governments on formulating and implementing education policies. Pic 1

The first National Policy on Education was formed in 1968.  The policy focused on equality in educational opportunities and fulfilling compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years. Most importantly the policy aimed at enhancing teacher education so as to have a trained and qualified teachers in the schools.

The education policy of 1986 aimed at inclusive education that emphasised on the removal of learning disparities arising out of gender and caste discriminations. Most important aspect of the policy that matters very much to us was its mission for a “child-centered approach” in the pedagogy of primary education.

One of four National Curriculum Frameworks (NCF) published in 1975, 1988, 2000 and 2005 by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), NCF 2005 has been engaged in the exercise of developing syllabus, textbooks and teaching practices within the school education programmes in India. The exercises are being carried out with the involvement of State Councils for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET). The curriculum framework encompasses learning to be an enjoyable act where children feel that they are involved, valued and their voices are heard. The curriculum structure and school are to provide a satisfactory place for students to feel secure, valued and learn. Thus the focus of the NCF has been “Learning without burden to make learning a joyful experience and move away from textbooks to be a basis for examination and to remove stress from children.”

Teacher Education through School base Support in India (TESS-India), a project of The Open University, UK to enhance teacher education through Open Educational Resources (OER), has been in the operation in India since November 2012. The central focus of the project has been the professional development of the teacher educators and school teachers.

Pic 2Since 2014, the project has been in operation in the state of Odisha. It has a dual approach to cater the services to the teacher educators and school teachers. For the teacher educators, it works with the Department of School and Mass Education, Government of Odisha through its wings like SCERT, Rashtriya Madhyamika Sikshya, Abhiyan, Sarva Sikshya Abhiyan (SSA), Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) and DIETs. The specific activities under this project have been Transcription and Localisation of T-I OERs, one time Training-cum-Orientation on the use of TESS-India  OERs and Mentoring & Monitoring of these teachers on their follow up. Besides, embedding of TESS-India OERs into the teacher education syllabus and training modules, reaching out to teacher educators and school teacher through Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and scaling up the programme through spreading the practices among other teachers by the TESS-India project teachers.

Pic 3At present, the TESS-India OERs have been embedded into the Bachelor of Education Syllabus in the state of Odisha. The SSA has embedded TESS-India OERs in the training modules and started using it and other video resources for training school teachers in Dhenkanal district (TESS-India Focus District) in the state.

The participating teachers have started realising changes in their classroom transactions. The head teachers feel useful in the use of TESS-India OERs by the teachers in the schools. The colleagues are also interested in the classroom transactions by the participating teachers and have started using 10 key resources like, Planning lessons, Involving All, Talk for Learning, Using Pair Work, Using Questioning to Promote Thinking, Monitoring and Giving Feedback, Using Group Work, Assessing Progress and Performance, Using Local Resources and Story Telling, Role Play, Songs and Drama.

Ms. Sunita Sahoo, Padmanavapur Primary School teacher, Dhenkanal has used TESS-India OERs teaching Science subject in the class V. She views that her ability to interact with the students has increased. She was able to have a better lesson plan. She finds students fearless and encouraged to ask questions and respond to learn more. The class has been attractive for the students to learn. Students feel eager to participate in the classroom activities.

Pic 4Ms. Smrutimitra Mohanty, Sankarpur Nodal Upper Primary School teacher says “I have used the TESS-India OER in the classroom transactions on the Science topic with the students of class VII. I used the key resources like involving all, pair work, group work and local resources. My students are very much interested when I use pair work and local resources. I am able to make all students actively participate in the learning.”

Ms. Smrutimayee Sahoo, Parbatia Primary School teacher observes that by using TESS-India OER her classroom transactions have become easier. In her class students work more than she does. The changes she feels that before using TESS-India OER she used work hard to make students learn. But now she feels much more relaxed and happier than before as the students learn from each other and work learn to learn together.

Pic 5Ms. Nabanita Sahoo, Sikhereswara Upper Primary School observes that using TESS-India OERs in the classroom transactions within a group of 40 students becomes easier, more lively and interesting. Using it with 69 students with a limited classroom space becomes difficult for her. But it certainly makes a huge difference in reaching out every student in the class even if the strength is more than 40 students. She happily shares her experiences that Priti Ranjan Beheral of class VI who used to be the lowest achiever in the class has now come up with so much interest to learn, ask question, and respond to the questions. He has become a role model for other students to come up like him.

Mr. Dinabandhu Pradhan, Ms. Nirupama Mishra, Ms. Prabhati Dei and Mr. Bhaskar Mohanty, the Head Teachers of Parbatia Primary School, Saptasajya Upper Primary School, C.S. Prasad Upper Primary School, and Sankarpur Nodal Upper Primary School in the Focus District of Dhenkanal, Odisha observe that by using TESS-India OERs the teachers have become more active and have enhanced their quality of education and teaching. Now the teachers give importance to self-learning, self-preparation and making the teaching more child-centric and participative by all. Due to the improvement observed in the classroom transactions and learning of the students by all, other teachers have expressed their interest to use TESS-India OERs, the Head Teachers commented.

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From chalk and blackboard to groups and pairs by Subhashree Pradhan

From chalk and blackboard to groups and pairs…  

By: Subhashree Pradhan

MVI_2469-002“I read the sentence and she repeats it. I keep on reading it aloud until she has pronounced it right. This way she learns and it gives me immense joy to see my friend learning from me. Pair work is my favorite”- shares the nine year old girl Asha, with a beaming smile on her face. Suddenly, two more voices, Monalisha and Smruti, exclaim with joy “We also love pair work”.

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While the four of us walk around the school campus in a lovely winter morning, the walky talky brings out interesting stories of classroom changes that have been occurring in Hindi Nepali school of Dhenkanal. Whether it is the newly added posters in the classroom wall or it is the pair work that has encouraged students to study after school hours- as Monalisha says, “I was never interested in studying after school hours but now I love studying during evening hours with my classmate, who is also my neighbor”. Smruti adds, I don’t have any classmate in my neighborhood but I study in the evening with my friend who goes to a different school. I have taught her how to do pair work and she enjoys it as much as I do”.

IMG_2476As the young girls keep talking about the new happenings in their classroom, they keep praising their English teacher, Surekha Nayak- the real hero who makes their classroom learning interesting every day. She is a teacher by profession for past 16 years. She started her career in teaching at Joranda primary school, then at George school and is now a teacher of Hindi Nepali School.

“I am amazed to see the changes that these methodologies have brought to my classroom”- Surekha mentions, while she talks about the key resources, one by one, that she practices in the English class of standard 5th after undergoing the training under TESS India. “My favorite subject is mathematics. But I teach all subjects. As a student, I never missed classes. I was so attached to my school and fond of my studies and always dreamt of being a teacher. Let me narrate an incident to you from my childhood, when I was in standard 7th”-laughs out Surekha Nayak as she entails, how she requested her teacher to convince her parents to send her to school during a festive season, when she had only one choice to make: attend a family function or go to school. This was years back- sighs Surekha taking a deep breath as she adds, “Ironically, things have changed. I do not see that enthusiasm among students to study like it happened years back. They are not to be blamed though. My students are talented. They love studying, crafts, music, dance etc. They need encouragement and a favorable environment to excel. When I am at school, I keep these two things in my mind and try to give the best of my efforts to help my students go one step higher”.

IMG_2452 When asked about her experience on TESS India training and classroom transactions, Surekha shared that, “Initially, I was apprehensive about the classroom changes. I had not many expectations. But gradually with small visible changes, my confidence level increased. I became hopeful that these methodologies will certainly bring remarkable changes to my classroom. I kept on trying, experimented with the TESS India Key resources and now I am practicing it in my mathematics class too. Besides, I plan my lesson for every class. I end my day by writing a reflection note and this gives me scope of improvement and thus benefits my students”.  IMG_2479Surekha stresses on the importance of monitoring and mentoring, academic support, and visitors from outside, which have had a positive impact on the classroom environment.

IMG_20151126_114812As Surekha continues to talk about the changes that have occurred, she points out to three students of her class, and says that, “can you believe they never uttered a word in English and now they have gathered the courage of reading English words! If I was asked to mention this change in percentage, I would proudly say that at least 40% of my students are now above an average mark, which was 15% previously”.

While we wind up our conversation and head towards the English classroom of 35 students, children are seen engaged in group assignment that the teacher gave them in her absence. On seeing this, Surekha proudly says “Every little change that I see in my classroom gives me satisfaction and makes me feel proud of my teaching”.

With a feeling of contentment, I head towards another TI project school.

 

 

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The TESS-India MOOC Journey of Dhenkanal, Odisha

An Experience Report by Subhashree Pradhan

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On 23rd Nov. 2015, the second phase of MOOC was inaugurated in the district in the form of a mela, where more than 140 teachers of Sadar block (TESS-India project block) participated. The objective of this mela was to introduce MOOC to the participants, brief them about the six-week course module and encourage them to register into MOOC. During the workshop, participants learnt about MOOC, its objectives, importance of taking the course, its design and contents, use of technology in pursuing the course, no. of working hours to complete the course etc. The participants were oriented about MOOC and the course structure and use of technology in the six week course, followed by an online registration of interested participants. More than 100 participants registered themselves into the MOOC on 23rd, which reached to more than 200 in the forthcoming week. The participants of second phase MOOC in the district included TESS-India project school teachers, non TESS-India project school teachers, CRCCs, DIET faculties, pre service pupil teachers, the District Education Officer, and the Block Education Officer of Sadar block, Dhenkanal and the MOOC facilitators.

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A schedule for the facilitation classes in Dhenkanal was designed, in a manner that would be feasible for each participant to avail the classes and successfully complete MOOC. Hence, it was decided that MOOC will reach to participants through contact classes, and it will be held every week from Monday through Saturday in elementary schools at cluster level (17 clusters of Sadar block) and in high schools (3 High schools) on Saturdays, to ensure participation of each and every registered MOOC participant from the district.

Each contact class started with an orientation of the week’s module and course contents and assignments to be completed in that week. The LCD projector was made use in high schools to orient the classroom on the week’s course. Each participant used the desktops in high school and laptops at the cluster level to pursue the course. At the end of each week course, the participants took the quiz for that week. The facilitators ensured that each participant understood the academic part and went thoroughly through the contents, and also assisted them in understanding the contents and addressed the technical difficulties faced, and provided guidance in completing that week course. The MOOC facilitators also followed up with the participants on regular basis to check their progress and difficulties faced, if any, and thus, extended their support wherever required to ensure completion of course. The final contact class of MOOC was on 9th January 2016.

Key Learning’s:

    • First and foremost, it was learnt that MOOC was new to all the participants and none of the teacher participants had taken an online course earlier, and very few had knowledge about computers before taking the course. However, there was excitement and keen interest among participants to learn about an online course and using computers.
    • The course module and information, and facilitation classes were well appreciated by the participants. Participants shared that the TESS-India OER materials were very helpful for the participants as it promoted self learning and secondly, the resources are useful tool for improving quality of teaching.
    • Few participants who were anxious about the use of computers during the first week of MOOC, made it effortlessly during second week of the course. It was interesting to see that over a period of time, participants were able to log into their Edx accounts by themselves, and took the course. Most of them completed their assignments way before the deadlines and waited for the opening of next week’s course.
    • It was impressive to note that sometimes, the CRCCs facilitated the classes and made use of TESS-India tablets during contact class. The participants also guided their fellow participants in completing the course.
    • Many participants used their mobile phones and  TESS-India tablets to complete the course.
    • Participants shared with each other, their experiences about MOOC, peer assessment and the feedback they received, during facilitation classes and on social media platform such as Whats App. A Whats App group was created by one of the MOOC participant, which is named as “ MOOCers of Dhenkanal”. Many participants kept on enquiring about the opening of forthcoming week course and the contact classes. 
My experience with MOOC…

Monalisha, elementary school teacher of Bhapur girls PS, Bhapur cluster says,

“ I have successfully completed the six week MOOC course. I had a very good experience. During MOOC mela, I registered into the course by myself, with the help of facilitator and helped my fellow participants to enroll into the course. I was initially very nervous about MOOC. Now after completing the course, I feel very confident and I am gathered a very knowledge about an online course. In my cluster, we made use of mobile phones to take this course. We made little use of computers and laptops. Thanks to MOOC team for providing me the opportunity to take part in MOOC”.

Opportunities:

  • First, the keen interest seen among participants to pursue an online course is itself a motivation. Out of 256 registered MOOC participants in the district, 226 have successfully completed the course. This accounts for 88.28% of the completion rate.
  • Second, the support extended by district administration and the school authorities  is commendable. Due to their support only, it was possible to conduct the classes in high schools and elementary schools with limited challenges.
  • Third, if not very good, but still internet connectivity (through use of dongle and SIM cards with different network connections) works in most of the places of the clusters. This gives the scope to reach out to the participants and facilitate classes in their vicinity.
  • On current date, some participants have registered into few others online courses on Edx. This reflects that MOOC has created a positive attitude towards self-learning and has boosted their self confidence in using computers/online course.

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Challenges and ways to resolve issues:

  • One major challenge was the poor internet connectivity in interior clusters. This issue  was resolved by identifying certain clusters which had good network support and secondly, by carrying dongles with multiple  SIM cards of different network connections.
  • Another challenge is that the digital literacy among few participants was very low. Due to this, they found it difficult to type their post and participate in the discussion. Moreover, regional language being odia, some found it difficult to express their ideas in English language. However it is remarkable to note that by second and third week of the course, most of these participants comfortably handled the computers and took the course through the support of facilitators
  • Previously, it was planned that the cluster level contact classes would also be held at the high schools of that cluster. However, it was later learnt that even though the laboratories are well equipped, there is low network connectivity in those areas. Hence, to combat this problem, the cluster level classes were held in primary schools through use of laptops, mobile phone, tablets, and dongles.

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 Testimonials:

“MOOC is a very interesting course. It gives vast information about OER, which I feel, is the best way to apply in the classroom situation. This makes the teachers active and energetic to participate in their concerned subjects”. – Sadhana Mohanty- Govindpur UP school, govindpur cluster

 “Today I completed the assignments of week 3 and 4. Thanks to MOOC facilitators who have been providing us guidance all the while. I feel proud to have participated in an online MOOC course. It gives me immense joy and lot of inspiration to improve my classroom teaching practices through use of OER. Thanks to TESS-India for bringing this to us and I believe that TESS-India will bring revolutionary change in our education system. Hearty gratitude to TESS-India for giving me this opportunity to participate in MOOC.”- Smrutimitra Mohanty- Sankarpur Nodal UPS, Sankarpur cluster:

 “I teach all subjects in my school. I took the MOOC course and I am very happy to take it. The facilitation classes were very helpful and this course helped me in so many ways. I took an online course for the first time. It enhances my computer knowledge and most importantly, I came across so many materials of OER. Thank you MOOC facilitators and thank you TESS-India”.- Ambuja kjuamr prusty, Sarion UPS, Mangalpur cluster

 “I had very limited knowledge about computers and no knowledge about internet. I was afraid if I will be able to do this course. But I got registered and after one and two week course, I felt very confident. MOOC is not a very difficult course as I thought earlier. Not I have completed MOOC and I am feeling proud.”-Babita Sahoo, Salapada school.

 “MOOC is a very interesting course and I felt very happy to participate in discussions and to provide feedback to others. The OERs are very helpful for self learning and to apply in classroom practices. Thank you, MOOC”- Kalyani Sahoo, Jawahar Nodal UPS

 “MOOC is an open course for all. Everybody can participate in it without any hesitation. I like it because there are lot of things for learning through OER and I am very much benefited by it”.- Arjun Nayak, Elementary school teacher, Raidih UP School.

“MOOC is a very interesting course which makes us aware about open education resources. It is a good way of acquiring knowledge. I am very happy to join this course and it is a joy to learn through an online method”.-Swapnamayee Nayak, Elementary school teacher, Balyamba UP school

“MOOC is a vast and open online course. I did not know about online course earlier. But now I am interested in an online course after taking MOOC. There are lot of things to learn from OER. I am enjoying this course very much”.- Lipsa Tosh, Elementary school teacher, CS Prasad UP school

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TESS-India – MOOC Contact Classes in Karnataka

TESS-India Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), ‘Enhancing Teacher Education through OER: TESS India’ was launched on 23rd November 2015. For the purpose of conducting the MOOC, blended learning methodology was adopted by TESS-India and Contact Classes were conducted for the participants across Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The purpose of these classes was to support learning among participants as the concept of MOOC is comparatively new for teachers in India.

MOOC Field Facilitator Mr. Manjesh introducing session in a Contact Class in DIET Kudige, Karnataka.

MOOC Field Facilitator Mr. Manjesh introducing session in a Contact Class in DIET Kudige, Karnataka.

In Karnataka, TESS-India along with Department for State Educational Research and Training (DSERT) nominated participants from 34 DIETs and 7 CTEs to take the course. Apart from that, participants from our partner institutes, RVEC, Vijaya Teacher’s College and Sacred Heart TTI also took the course. The total enrollments for the course reached a staggering number of 498 participants, majority of which are Teacher Educators in DIETs and CTEs. A team of 40 facilitators was also built for conducting Contact Classes for the course in their respective institutions. Apart from this, a team of 12 Field Facilitators was also built to support the Facilitators during the Contact Classes.

A participant taking the course through EdX app in her smartphone. There were many such participants who resorted to their smartphones for doing the course due to lack of working computer systems in their institution.

Senior Lecturer of DIET Bangalore Rural, Karnataka showing her progress. She was not very fluent with computers before she enrolled for MOOC, but now she says that she feels much more confident.

Senior Lecturer of DIET Bangalore Rural, Karnataka showing her progress. She was not very fluent with computers before she enrolled for MOOC, but now she says that she feels much more confident.

The course ended on 12th January 2016 and success stories began pouring in from all corners of the State. Throughout the duration of the course, Contact Classes were being conducted in 34 DIETs and 7 CTEs in Karnataka by the Facilitators and Field Facilitators of MOOC. The Classes or face-to-face interactions were meant to motivate participants, discuss activities and engage learners through active learning pedagogies.

MOOC Contact Class in DIET Bangalore Rural with field facilitator, Ms. Asma Begum

MOOC Contact Class in DIET Bangalore Rural with field facilitator, Ms. Asma Begum

Each week, the Whats app group would get flooded with photographs of the Contact Classes and the activities taking place during the sessions. Field Facilitators proved to be a great asset in the implementation strategy of MOOC. These Field Facilitators were Lecturers from DIETs and CTEs who were a part of TESS-India MOOC during its first iteration in May 2015.

Progress report of a participant. This is one of the many reports that came pouring in in the last two weeks of the MOOC

The last two weeks of the course was a particularly happy period for the facilitators as well as participants of the course as they were excited to have finished the very first MOOC of their lives. Many teacher educators enrolled into other courses on EdX too during the span of the TESS-India MOOC. They were happy to share this information with peers and colleagues.  This is a very good example of capacity building in teacher educators that TESS MOOC has managed to achieve.

Contact Class in Karnataka

The TESS-India team also visited several DIETs and CTEs to observe Contact Classes and also to interact with the participants. This made a big impact on the participants and they expressed that such face to face interaction with the people conducting the course is also important as they felt more connected with the course, the OERs and the project after it.

 

Interaction and experience sharing of TESS team with MOOC participants in DIET Mangalore, Karnataka after completion of the course. We received some very valuable inputs from the faculty.

Interaction and experience sharing of TESS team with MOOC participants in DIET Mangalore, Karnataka after completion of the course. We received some very valuable inputs from the faculty.

 

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2015-12-26

TESS-India is Growing……

From barren to garden…

“I have a vision to save environment and educate my school children on the importance of environment conservation. I have started doing this by telling my children about the importance of planting trees and different ways of environment conservation. I am so happy to see that my children have taken initiatives by planting flowers and vegetable plants in the school campus. It is even more rewarding to see that my students have taken the ownership and responsibility of making the campus a beautiful one”- says, Mrs. Pushpa Rani Das, the Head Teacher of Kankadapala UP in Ranja cluster of Sadbar block in Dhenkanal district of Odisha, who was one of the participants of the school leadership development workshop conducted by TESS-India on the 18th to 20th Nov. 2015.

In her action plans for next three months, Mrs. Pushpa showed keen interest towards environment protection and education.

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OU Development Office sees TESS-India in Action

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It is a warm and sunny morning at Rajkiya Prathmik Vidyalaya School in Vishnupur, Bidupur. When we arrive, the school day has already started, and students and teachers can be heard around the courtyard of classrooms. The school is clean and well-kept, but basic; there are no desks and chairs and only intermittent electricity in the Principal’s Office. We are invited to join Class 1B who along with their teacher Ashok Kumar are singing, playing and noisily having fun, but learning the alphabet and about hygiene.  

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As the teacher with 12 years’ experience and of the youngest children in the school, he has previously struggled to engage his pupils with paper-based learning. Ashok was invited to participate on two days of TESS-India training it has, he says, “changed his whole approach”.

“Before my students didn’t want to leave their parents. Now our classes are so fun they don’t want to leave school. When the children see me in town, they start dancing. This is what they think of when they see their teacher.”

The children are learning through movement and songs. They are involved, engaged, active and excited to learn. This approach is just one outlined in TESS-India’s 10 Key Resources, available online or downloaded from SD cards to a mobile phone. Ashok proudly produces his phone and confirms he checks the invaluable TESS-India materials two or three times during his working day.

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Meeting teachers and seeing their interactions with their students was a crucial part of our trip. My Director of Fundraising and I were there to see TESS-India in action, and to share the experience with a Trustee of a UK-based Foundation who may be able to support the programme. The funding for TESS-India from the UK government’s Department for International Development will come to an end next year. It is our job to play a part in securing TESS-India’s continuity and financial future. Funders want to understand every element of TESS-India. Why is it needed? How does it work? What is the impact? What will my money achieve?

In Bihar’s schools the context is clear: the shortage of qualified teachers, the demand for resources, and the need for mentoring.

We can now bring to life how TESS-India works within existing government protocols and the current curriculum to deliver locally relevant teaching support at scale.

The following day, at Jubilee Town School in Bhubaneshwar we met Subhashani Misra, a teacher who undertook TESS-India training through the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC. We saw her students, aged eight and nine, working in small groups in their English class. They used drama skills to bring a poem to life; showed us their notebooks in which they have been cutting and sticking words to expand their vocabulary. One of the student’s explained the change in their classroom following their teacher’s training:

“Not so long ago we did not speak to each other in class. I am very good at maths, but I know that he isn’t. Now we work together as team to improve together”.

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The visit has been informational and inspirational for us both and our prospective funder. As fundraisers tasked with raising funds for University projects, experiencing first-hand the work that is being done and its impact is invaluable in order to convey the message to our donors.

The trip did much more for us both however – we will carry with us the pride in TESS-India, the almost evangelical belief in its ability to transform teaching practices and the emotion it invokes in staff, teachers and students. From our hearts – thank you for making it a memorable visit and we hope to see you all again with good news.

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School Leadership Development Workshop in Dhenkanal

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Dhenkanal, 1st-2nd December 2015

TESS-India team in collaboration with District Institute of Education and Training (DIET)-Dhenkanal, organized School leadership Development workshops for head teachers of TESS-India Project schools in Dhenkanal from 1st-2nd Dec.2015. 49 head teachers from the TESS-India project schools (elementary) took part in this 2 day workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to inspire, engage and help the head teachers develop their leadership skills needed for both personal and professional growth. Secondly, to introduce the TESS-India Leadership Development Units (LDUs), OERs and KRs followed by an action plan of each head teacher in strengthening the curriculum in their respective schools.

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The two-day workshop stressed upon leadership skills, behavior and attitude of a leader, inception of TESS-India, school leadership OER, Key Resources, and the vision and action plan for next three months. The workshop began with self-introduction and welcoming each other with a bouquet, followed by a candle light exercise. The working session included learning through power point presentations on leadership development, story-telling, songs, group work and group presentations by participants, feedback sharing, etc.

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The Block Education Officer of Sadar block, Dhenkanal district, Ms. Mousumi Sahoo showed her presence in both the days and motivated the participants. At the end of day 2, each participant was felicitated with a certificate of participation. The training was imparted by faculties of DIET, Dhenkanal and Tess India state and district team.

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