Indian Discoveries

Posted on Posted in Bronze Contributor, Participant News, Stories

Aiming for:&Bronze Award
About the Author:My name is Mary Hickey, I am a primary school teacher from Rathmore in Co.Kerry. Last Summer I was fortunate enough to travel with Global schoolroom to Bodhjungnagar in North East India. I traveled with two other Irish teachers and together we worked with our Indian teacher counterparts in working towards their third level teaching qualification. We spent four weeks supporting the teachers in which time they completed a two week course on the components of teaching and a further two weeks completing teaching practice in their Indian classrooms. It was such a privilege to work with such outstanding teachers in such an amazing place.

Indian Discoveries

Hidden Learning
I was fortunate enough to have been one of a chosen few to travel to North East India in the Summer of 2016 as part of the ‘Global Schoolroom’ team. Global Schoolroom is a teacher education initiative, set up in order to promote high quality education through the sharing of expertise between teachers in various places throughout the world. Garret and his team of experienced practitioners and volunteers, continued to stress the learning we would experience at a personal and professional level but really nothing could have prepared me for the level of learning I was about to encounter.

Full of the understandable apprehensions one would have before they travel to a new and unfamiliar country, I set about making preparations for my new adventure. Travelling as a Global Schoolroom ambassador meant a number of weeks planning not only what were appropriate clothing and travel essentials but the development and organisation of lesson plans and resources. As part of a team of three, we were responsible for the facilitation of year three of the Global Schoolroom teacher education syllabus, which incorporated a number of differing topics. I was responsible for the Special Education module of the course. This was an interesting and valuable journey for me as a teacher into my own existing knowledge and perceptions of the challenges that children with Special Educational Needs encounter and what standard of facilitation I as a classroom teacher was providing to these children with daily.

Armed with notes, lesson plans, flashcards, visual resources and tummy butterflies, walking up the steps to the classroom on that first day in India, I was reminded of those fearful days during teaching practice only back then I wasn’t contending with intense heat, the hum of building contractors, and the constant threat of the electricity current starting and stopping sporadically throughout the day. Back when I started teaching practice I was grappling hard with the impressions of what I thought a teacher should be and with the type of teacher I was becoming, trying hard to develop a sense of myself as well as myself as a professional. Interestingly on those mornings when I stood in front of my peers in India, I felt that same sense of self-discovery, what sort of a teacher had I become now? Was it the teacher I had envisaged back then? What were still the qualities I deemed important for teacher and did I still display them? I quickly realised that I personally as a teacher was not meeting the expected models of professional practice I was covering with the students in such areas as teacher facilitation and inclusion.

This is when my learning began, I sat among my professional counterparts in India, constrained by the stresses of life, the lack of resources available to them and the current attitudes towards Special Education and was completely overwhelmed by the good practice they displayed and the boundaries they were knocking in doing their upmost to allow the children in their care to access the curriculum to the best of their abilities. Open and willing to try new practices and approaches to teaching children with Special Educational Needs, they could identify the children’s needs that were not being met and adapt their teaching in order to facilitate as many learners as possible. It was not long until I was making mental notes of all the little changes I too could make in my teaching to afford these children in my class every chance of success. The most important learning which took place for me was not peer-peer learning, not teacher- peer learning but the learning that took place from peer to teacher. Those teachers who were making many sacrifices in order to develop their professional careers and the difference they made taught me more than anything I could have ever taught them
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