Wednesday 2 June 2010

One Atlantic Away from Home....

It has been quite a long time since I posted something on this blog. I know, that's not like a good blogger.. My absence was just temporary. It was not because I didn't have anything to tell, but it was because I was away from home. (Well, that's not a good excuse anyway.)

But let me explain.. Yes, I was away from home.. Crossed the Atlantic, spent five months in the US as an ILEP scholar, interacted with teachers across the world, revisited my professional dilemmas... The last five months took me to a world of difference. There was lot of adjustments and readjustments to a new kind of living with people from different cultures. These interactions has enlightened me with a thought that how important it is to understand people from different backgrounds, values, attitudes and ambitions.

Well, to begin with, I was attending a program called International Leaders in Education Program(ILEP), which is sponsored by the US Department of State. The program is meant for the secondary school teachers from different countries. It is for five months (the spring semester) and this year 85 teachers were hosted in 5 different Universities in the US. (You may find the details on the link http://www.irex.org/programs/ilep/)

There has been different kinds of experiences, personal and professional, during the program and they helped me stretch my views with more elasticity and flexibility. I appreciate the department for offering a platform and sharing its resources to enhance cross-cultural sharing among international educators. I think educators need to travel more and meet people to enrich their experiences, which would definitely benefit their students.

There are many things to share. Since it's not possible to do so in one post, let me share with you one important thought. I liked many things about the US and other countries. Also, I disliked many other things about them. But at the end of the program, I came out with a realization that it's not the likes and dislikes that matter, it's the understanding of the other from his/her point of view that matters... It is easy to say - I don't like you. And it is quite difficult to say, I understand you. Now, as an educator, I believe that (though difficult) it is this value that we need to inculcate in our young generation through education - to understand and accept the differences across the world and to live on our commonalities. Because life is not about existence, it is about co-existence.

I encourage my fellow educators to participate in such programs. Differences can be made when educators are empowered.

Maybe you can refer to the following links:

http://www.irex.org/education/index.asp

http://us.fulbrightonline.org/about.html


http://www.cies.org/

http://www.usief.org.in/

Sunday 6 September 2009

THE POST BOX

Sometimes a little idea can bring in a lot of changes. Yeah, as they said it "An idea can change your life". And if we, teachers, begin to think different, I think we could say, "An idea can change the classroom". Here is a little idea that changed my class.

The idea was to have a post-box in my class. My students were surprised, but excited by the very idea. We were through our letter-writing session. It has been always the same. The teacher would given them an imaginary context in which the students have to place themselves and write letters to imaginary people. If they were to write real letters they would need real people to receive them. Thus came the idea of a letter-box. A student made a wonderful box and another one happily volunteered to be the post-man.

Students could write letters from home. They could write it to anyone in the class, including the teachers. The only condition was that they should write the letters in English. The letters can be posted in the box any time. But the post-box will be opened only once in a week and during English hour. It takes only 5 minutes to deliver the letters.

Though I had doubts about the success of the idea, I wanted to give it a try. And I'm happy to say that it really worked. Now students eagerly wait for Fridays. And I have seen excitement on their faces when they receive letters. I too write letters to them. Though only very few write long letters, I'm optimistic. I think now I can easily teach them how to write letters. And I believe language learning is faster in natural contexts.

I would love to hear from you all those little big ideas that have changed your classroom.