[Abhijith Sudhir. Teaches the hard-to-handle older boys at Aloysian Boys Home.]
Saturdays and Sundays have never been the same since I joined MAD, there is always something new to learn. This week was no different, emphasis on the learning.
There were two different aspects to the training we underwent this weekend, one was the mentor training mainly dealing with the art of monitoring and giving feedback to the new volunteers and not being preachy and about it. We engaged in a discussion of the most common problems that we faced in class over the last year and came up with new and more efficient methods to solve them.
First there was a role play session where we were required to provide a mock feedback in terms of classes taken by the new volunteers.
The long term impact of our teaching methods on the children was the highlight. Once done with the mentor training program we moved on to the syllabus training. The new Cambridge syllabus, I feel, gives us much more flexibility in varying the different sort of teaching techniques and it gives us the space to understand more clearly what the requirements of the class and as well as the requirements of individual kids within the classroom are.
Break the Ice:
The training started with an ice-breaker session that required us to write our name on a sheet of paper and also come out with a pictorial representation of the same, it was a great way to get the new volunteers to open up and make them feel comfortable and part of the team.
The next stage in training required us to assume the role of an 8 year old, which most of us very enthusiastically did, for some I guess it was just a matter of being natural. ;) We tackled some sample exercises from the Cambridge syllabus and surprising as it may seem, we learnt a lot of things as well (I personally didn’t know that kangaroos can’t run or walk, but then again my GK is not inspirational).
A special mention should be made on an exercise that had us all drawing a picture of a kangaroo and by god I did see some hilarious things that were passed off as kangaroos(mine included). If kangaroos could sue they would have one major lawsuit filed against us by now, but jokes apart when we reflect on these sessions we realized that we enjoyed these exercises so much that it hardly felt like learning and it became quite clear as to why it’s so well suited for the kids.
A small demonstration by Shefali ma’am involving her teaching us French with a variation of methods involving repetition, visual learning and finally a kinesthetic demonstration gave us a chance to understand and comprehend how the kids respond to a foreign language and the methods that prove most beneficial in long term learning and retention.
The syllabus can be used to create a very dynamic classroom environment, one which allows the kids to enjoy as they learn. Day one ended with assigning of different topics to different groups to implement the micro-teaching method (I’m not sure about the term, but it sure sounds pretty classy ;))
Day two began early (so early that I missed the first 30 minutes). The various groups divided the topic among the members, each one taking up a different section and demonstrating what a little bit of innovation can do to make a class exciting.
Kudos to the new volunteers who handled it as if they had been teaching all their lives and gave us oldies some memorable lessons to take home, the feedback given after each group had finished gave us insights on areas that needed more focus, and tuning, and how we could do better what we had already been doing good, which just goes to show that learning is a never ending cycle.
Our trainer, Ms. Shefali Kulkarni, deserves special mention, her presence firm yet so subtle (yeah well I tend to get poetic sometimes). She let us understand and discover for ourselves than trying to hammer the concepts into us, and many of her feedbacks went deeper than classroom techniques and made us reflect on how better to improve our personality aspects like body language and tone.
And finally, Go MAD!
We did learn a lot but the most awesome thing about working with kids, they are totally unpredictable and it’s up to us as to how we use what we learned to really make a difference and make learning fun. After all, isn’t that what being “mad” is really about. ;)