SAIIER 2016:Teachers' Center

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Play of Painting at Nandanam Kindergarten
SAIIER Annual Report 2015-16 icon.jpg




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Supportive Learning Teacher Training
Teachers' Center


Introduction

The aims of the Teachers' Center are to encourage the development and implementation of Integral Education in Auroville through collaboration, networking, research, and innovation; provide teacher training, advisory services, and a teachers resource center; research and develop didactic material; offer skills, tools, knowledge and sharing to understand and implement Integral Education. The Teachers Center is a space for making and storing educational material, to meet and host gatherings, seminars and informal meetings, to view videos and do online research.

Activities of the year

In its first year the Teachers' Center (TC) worked on the different areas defined in the aims and objectives:

  • Teacher training under the umbrella of the Teachers' Center happened regularly. Most of the Teachers Center members were engaged already in training teachers in different Auroville schools: TLC, Deepanam, Transition, Future School, Oli, Nandanam, Aikiyam, Udavi and New Era School. The training is different depending on the needs, and can include: workshops, meetings in the different schools or in the TC, consultation with teachers, advisory services, individual following of teachers and class observation, teacher guidance and support.
  • Networking happened through the weekly “Conversations on Integral Education” held in the TC, which teachers from all the schools were invited to attend. These Conversations are an opportunity for teachers working in different schools to meet and share about all aspects of their schools at the administrative or academic level, for exchange and support.
  • The TC has been a drop-in center for people interested in learning more about the various schools and educational activities in Auroville.
  • Files and materials related to Teachers' Center programs for teacher training, special needs and the like are stored for easy access. The current agenda of meetings and workshops is displayed on an accessible bulletin board.
  • Educational materials are being made and can be borrowed by teachers to use in a variety of projects. Volunteers have been engaged to help in the making of the material.
  • A library was started with books on professional development which can be borrowed. This year we also bought some books to be used by teachers for their projects.
  • Over 1,500 books for children on different topics have been stored and catalogued on the Teachers' center computer, for teachers to use in their classes. Some books have been printed.
  • Children’s books on science-related topics have been purchased as a part of building up the project boxes. The Teachers' Center now has close to 100 beautiful books on different subjects.
  • Online educational material has been purchased and made available to the teachers, including “Reading A to Z” and “Science A to Z” for elementary school, and “Big History Project”.
  • Films on different topics have been saved and catalogued.
  • As an outcome of the “Special Needs Consortium” started last year, the Teachers' Center facilitated an eight-month long supportive learning program with teachers from many of the Auroville schools participating. The program had weekly gatherings on different topics, through which the teachers could deepen their knowledge and understanding of how to work with children with special needs. 12 teachers participated regularly. A continuation will be offered next year on the request of the participants.
  • A course for parents and parents-to-be was started. Initial meetings were held with midwives and pregnant women, with the intention to raise awareness of the importance of the beginnings of a child's life.
  • We worked with the STEM Land team of Udavi School to develop their understanding of Montessori materials.
  • The Teachers' Center opened a Facebook page to be able to communicate with a larger group of teachers.

Work in identifying the special needs required for the Teachers' Center was done, with the support of an architect specialized in spaces for learning.

Outcomes

The Teachers' Center brought more exchanges between the different schools and their teachers. As it is a space dedicated to all teachers and not located in a particular school, it brings more unity between the teachers and gives a sense of working all together for the education in Auroville. By bringing our ideas and experience together as well as our difficulties and needs, it creates a positive energy enabling us to find a way to progress. The teachers, students and parents in Auroville benefited directly as well as volunteers and guests.

Reflections

This year the most important task was to gather a team eager to participate in the work and offering a variety of abilities. A great team has formed, with professionals in the field of education.

We have been working to better understand the needs that the Teachers' Center has to care to; this has been done through surveys and feedback. We have seen that to be able to fulfill our objectives we have to work also with parents and concentrate on early childhood. We have started with this and will continue next year.

Until we have a physical library space we have to limit the Teachers' Resource Center to books and materials that can be stored on our computer, and printed by teachers. There is a great need for a library space to store materials in an organized manner, where materials can be catalogued and teachers can borrow them. This is not possible in the current Teachers' Center room. We are in the early planning stages of moving towards being able to have a Teachers' Center that meets the special needs of the services we offer. A building application will be sent in when it is ready.

Goals for next year

  1. To continue the work on the project boxes for the use of schools and teachers.
  2. To make more educational material with the help of volunteers.
  3. To have our website operational (with newsletter, ongoing events, sharing); work is already in process.
  4. To increase our collection of books – books for teachers on professional development, and educational children's books to be joined to the project boxes.
  5. To offer an interesting collection of topics for our weekly Conversations on Integral Education with teachers, following closely the needs of teachers. Also to organize amongst teachers a sharing platform to communicate our best practices.
  6. To organize a variety of workshops with guest teacher trainers which can help teachers to progress in their daily work.
  7. To create a visual database with photo material and videos on of all the Auroville schools and their activities, as well as posters for display and leaflets to disseminate.
  8. To continue to support Special Needs by organizing courses.
  9. To work on developing tools for Unity aiming to improve the relationship between people and their environment.

Conclusion

As a service we want to develop what the Teachers' Center can offer by learning from our work with the teachers what works and what does not. One example of this is the model of the Supportive Learning program offered this year that was very successful. We will apply the same principles in other courses that we have been requested to offer during the coming year.