Gurukul Academy is keen to grow their library program. Keen enough to ask us consistently to work with their teachers, to borrow boxes of books, to ask us to train their teachers on library planning and story telling.
So over two Saturdays in July – August, BW team set off . I find trainings outside BW now good spaces to expose our own in- house educators to training reinforcers.
For the first Saturday I shared my session with Krystal and Harish.
We met with the 13 teachers of Gurukul and threw them into story sessions. Over the years I have experienced the most powerful learning that comes from experience itself. We cannot expect teachers/ practitioner to solely operate from a place of ‘ theory’. Theoretical understandings are easier to share around a library practice than the practice itself. Implicitly no educator/ teacher will say that reading is undesirable or that a library is something that does not find a place in a school. But, what next.
For a long time in our education thinking particularly with the younger years of elementary schooling we have separated books from children. We have used the idea of a library as a story house of knowledge and a treasure trove of worlds for older readers and our teaching institutes do not accommodate this idea into trainings strongly/ purposely enough.
So, practice is necessary. We immersed the group in back to back story sessions, drawing on all the skills, techniques and fun loving moments we use with children and we watched teachers smile, teacher respond with predictions,connections and extension ideas exactly like young children do in our library programs.
We,then asked them to cull out from their experience of the sessions all the components that make lesson panning possible and enjoyable and necessary and we arrived at a broad outline of a lesson plan. Purposively.
It is at moments like this, that I am convinced that trainings are meaningful. It is when educators/ teachers respond to experience connecting it with what they know from their own classroom work and the workshop that one can begin to be hopeful.
For our follow up session separated by a week and an essential model to reinforce new ideas, Sheena, Krystal and I were at Gurukul on another Saturday morning at 9.30 am
The teachers were assigned HW from the previous session. A box of pre selected books was left behind. They had to choose one book from that box and lesson plan and demonstrate a read Aloud based on their own understanding from the workshop. Critical review was forewarned.
It was heartening to see how despite a packed school time table and schedule, other non school demands 5 of the 6 teams had lesson planned in careful detail.
I learnt that book selection might still be a problem area because while it is necessary to choose a book that one connects with, one must remember the audience that one is reading for. While it is important to remember that books are shared experiences and many wondrous and profound learnings come from them they do not have to be overt in the form of explicit morals and judgements.
The core idea of keeping stories alive, bringing them to the fore with thoughtful discussions and the need to allow children to share what they know first about the story / context was very clearly understood. This was demonstrated in the manner in which each team conducted their pre story session.
They also thought of games and songs that link to ‘key’ ideas in the books and with some careful nudging most of the teachers were able to see the strengths and areas to work upon in their own lesson plans.
The teachers had clearly enjoyed the hands – on literary and craft activities, including book making, poster making around a book and specific book related paper pencil tasks, as most of these found reflection in their own lesson plans.
For our own BW training programs this is a good strong model. We know it can work as we build the idea of disseminating the energy/ method and necessity of story telling in classrooms to bring literacy and literature alive and grow a stronger community of readers.
As we moved out of the heart land of Ponda I want to continue to support Gurukul who are poised to set up a strong library program that will establish good reading skills and better learners and thinkers in their own community of learners.