The fifth Workshop for Teachers and Educators was organized by the Department of Psychology on November 15-16, 2013 at Christ University. The workshop provides a common platform for schools teachers, administrators and counsellors to discuss various issues related to current trends and research in the field of Educational Psychology.This year 27 participants registered for the workshop and consisted of middle and high school teachers and administrators from schools across Bangalore and teacher trainees from the School of Education, Christ University.
The workshop was inaugurated by Prof.Mallika Krishnaswami, Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences and Dr.Tony Sam George, Head, Department of Psychology. Dr.Tony welcomed the participants and introduced them to the relevance and objectives of the workshop. The theme for this year was CreatingPositive Learning Spaces and focussed on two contemporary topics namely – Diversity in schools and classrooms and Student Empowerment. Prof. Mallika Krishnaswami, in her opening address, spoke about the changing nature of education and the rapid strides being made towards virtual learning and technology in classrooms. She also spoke about the increasing challenges faced by both teachers and students today, and the need to blend old school values with modern innovations.
The formal programme was followed immediately by an ice-breaking session by Stephen Samuel who set the tone for heightened participation in the workshop.
The first session of the workshop was facilitated by Baiju Gopal on the topic “Recognising diversity in schools and classrooms”. The facilitator contextualized the topic by engaging the participants in activities that enabled them to reflect on the concepts of uniqueness and individual differences, the relevance of multiple identities in today’s world and rejecting the idea of a melting pot. The focus of the session was the importance of recognising and respecting differences and preserving them in educational contexts.
The second session was facilitated by Stephen Samuel on the topic “Dealing with Diversity in classrooms”. He specifically focussed on two aspects namely understanding diversity in learning styles among students and using culturally relevant pedagogy. He encouraged teachers to become more culturally responsive through self-reflection, exploration and appreciation.
The sessions for the latter half of the day were facilitated by Deepali Sharma. The topic on “Identifying children with Special Needs” although vast was effectively dealt with as the facilitator chose to focus on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other comorbid conditionssuch as anxiety and learning disabilities. The session that followed was on “Dealing with inclusive classrooms”.The facilitator used an interesting combination of case studies, research findings and engaging anecdotes in the session. She also emphasised on the importance of following systematic procedures of brainstorming, observation and recording among educators if inclusion needs to be effective in mainstream education.
The theme for the second day was Student Empowerment. The tone for this was set by Anuradha Sathiyaseelan who facilitated the first session on “’Defining Empowerment”. She spoke about the 3 E’s of education namely – enabling,engaging and empowering students.She emphasised on the long-term benefits of empowerment such as gaining knowledge and self-awareness,learning that is self-initiated and personal responsibility.
This was followed by the session on “Empowering students through positive life values and self-regard” by Padmakumari. Using the Self theory by Carl Rogers as a framework, the facilitator conveyed the importance of unconditional positive regard and a positive self-image. The activities were simple yet thought-provoking as participants were challenged to reflect on the A (Activating situation) -B (belief) – C (consequence) of their self-talk, their strengths and weaknesses and their value system.
The focus of the workshop then shifted to addressing practical ways of empowering students and this was facilitated by Elizabeth Thomas who spoke on “Classroom practices to promote empowerment ”. She focused on the importance of democratic learning experiences and enabling students to “learn to learn” as opposed to the traditional teacher –centred method. Through a mix of an instructional video and a hands-on group activity she discussed how Project/Problem Based Learning (PBL) could be an effective classroom pedagogy to promote student empowerment.
The session on “Pedagogical practices using multimedia in classrooms” was facilitated by Upagya Rai. She contextualised her session by an extensive look at the history and origins of teaching and pedagogy and how multimedia represents the face of modern education.Some of the Interactive online resources that were discussed were Poll everywhere, Jing, UStream, Media convert, Prezi and Teachertube.
This was followed by a session on “Cultivating student empowerment through the teacher- parent partnership” by Miriam Mohan. The session started off with a role-play between parents and teachers through which the positives and negatives of the interaction were reflected upon. She emphasised on the importance of a “goodness of fit” between parents and teachers which can be initiated by examining the approach, attitudes,atmosphere and actions that can maximise the effectiveness of the partnership. The participants were encouraged to identify activities such as homework, school programmes and so on that can be used as common ground on which to build this partnership.
The two-day workshop was effectively summarised by Tony Sam George through open feedback and reflection from the participants. He also mooted the idea of offering online teacher courses for teachers by the Department of Psychology in the near future and hoped that this would help build more effective interaction between school and university spaces.
On the whole the workshop was well-received by the participants and initiated a thoughtful approach to create more positive learning spaces in their respective institutions. The feedback given was encouraging and constructive.One of the points for consideration for subsequent workshops was to have fewer sessions and more time devoted for each session.
The organizers wish to place on record the immense help rendered by the faculty of the Department of Psychology who contributed meaningfully in generating the themes for the workshop, publicising the workshop, facilitating sessions, and playing supportive roles during the various sessions.
Miriam Mohan&Lijo KJ
Organizers –Workshop for Teachers and Educators
Department of Psychology