SAIIER 2019:Teachers' Center
The Teachers' Center is a place for teachers from all the different schools in Auroville. It is made for them, to help them in any way possible implement integral education in Auroville. The Teachers' Center offers to help teachers find or make the material they need, and help them prepare their school year by offering advisory services, professional development, courses, a resource library, and linking with other schools and educational services.
Activities of the year:
This year we consolidated and developed our relation with Udavi School, Deepanam School, Thamarai, Lilaloka, Aikiyam School, Isai Ambalam School, Kindergarten, Nandanam Kindergarten and Transition School.
Having more presence in the Teachers' Center room, we had interesting visitors not only in search of information on Auroville schools and education but also wanting our help to realize their educational projects in Auroville or outside.
We also finished our Science project and opened ways online for teachers to communicate.
- Thamarai Learning Centre requested that one of our team observe their groups and give support in English and Behaviour Management. This was successfully done and follow-up plans were made. Fantastics Phonics, a literacy program, was introduced at Thamarai and a new class of children will use it.
- Udavi School, in the beginning of July, requested some teacher training sessions. These took place two mornings a week in liaison with other facilitators in Auroville.
- Isai Ambalam School asked to be introduced to the Fantastics Phonics program, and this was done with the help of Aikiyam School teachers.
- At Aikiyam School, the library program and the English as a Second Language (ESL) program which were initiated and maintained by members of our team is developing well. The teachers have been trained and the students are progressing.
- Aikiyam School felt the need to upgrade its crèche and kindergarten program. One of us, having the knowledge and experience in this field proposed her services. She listened to the teachers and started with them to define areas where progress has to happen and how to do it. The teachers were open to new ideas and ready to collaborate, and work is going on next school year.
- In Kindergarten and Nandanam Kindergarten, the involvement of the Teachers' Center was focused on helping teachers to support students in need of Supportive Learning. This included liaising with other schools, Deepam, Lilaloka, pediatricians and parents.
- Teachers from Deepanam School approached the Teachers' Center for support. Our team tried to answer the needs through workshops, individual consulting, books and materials.
- In Transition School the new teachers had weekly meetings to closely follow their integration in the school: their understanding of the program and readiness to take responsibility for their class.
- One of our Teachers' Center team members led 11 geography classes as well as field trips with women of Life Education Center, from October 2018 through April 2019. This will continue next school year.
- A course on Neuro Dramatic Play was offered in October/November 2018 for 5 days. The founder of the Neuro Dramatic Play (NDP) movement came to Auroville and ran the course. Twenty-four Auroville teachers, therapists and facilitators dealing with children took part in the course. Twelve children from Nandanam Kindergarten joined for practical application and exploration of the NDP programmes and activities.
- We received many teachers from inside and outside of Auroville. All wanted more information on Integral Education and how practically schools in Auroville integrate the principles of Integral Education into their program and running of the schools. Most of these visitors were teachers in their own countries and wanted to bring changes in their way of approaching Education.
- Some needed guidance on a project, others we simply connected with the right people in their field of interest. We continue to offer support when requested.
- We were requested to help a school in Chennai improve their Math curriculum. One of us went over there, observed classes and gave feedback to teachers. This will continue next school year.
- The comprehensive Sciences material which the Teachers' Center has been working on has been completed. We now have a full curriculum from Kindergarten to 6th grade, including teachers' manuals, books, activities, and student folders. We are sending the curriculum to class teachers in different schools, offering to show the material during the school holidays, and are getting positive answers.
- We have created an Edmodo site for the Teachers' Center online. It is a resource available to all teachers with links, materials and webinars to view. At the moment it holds two groups: a Pre-K Math Hub and one for Professional Development for teachers in various field of Education. Teachers who wish to join these groups or create new ones can also upload and share resources, promoting a space for co-creation and dialogue across schools.
When professional development embedded in the Integral Education philosophy answers closely the needs of the teachers in their work, helping them solve the many problems of running a class in all its complexity, progress happens for the teachers as well as for the students. There is increased confidence, and learning breakthroughs for both teachers and students, and this is a joy.
We are beginning to consider training the next generation of Teacher Trainers, and some teachers have been approached to consider this next step.
Participants on the Neuro Dramatic Play course wanted to follow up the work and to this end there have been meetings once a month of what has become the “AuroNDP” group. These meetings take place in the Tibetan Pavillon and are led by different participants each session, exploring and extending the themes of NDP while sharing experiences and applications in school and workplaces. Many participants took this work into schools and other facilities where it is developing and becoming part of the participants' skill sets. The Teachers' Center bought some Sue Jennings books and is sharing the material to help the participants deepen their knowledge in that field.
The completion of the Science material will help teachers develop their own approach to Sciences.
Adding two new younger members to our Teachers' Center team has brought new ideas and fresh energy. The Teachers' Center room has been opened from October to end of April, 5 days a week.
It is not easy to fulfill all the Teachers' Center mission statements. We have to prioritize what is the most important now and also keeping openings for the unexpected requests. We are also experiencing a gap between our intentions, projects and what we are ready to do. What we learned is to listen carefully, observe, evaluate what the situation needs so that our answers are meaningful.