Do You Dare to Dream? Teachers’ Workshop to Kick Off Verizon Innovative Learning Program, India

What is that one unique trait you have that is valuable for your school? What is your vision for the future as teachers of your school? Do you dare to dream? How do you expand your comfort zone? Can education technology replace teachers in the class room?

This and many more thought-provoking questions were part of a unique opportunity for 17 Science and Math teachers and principals from five government schools of the Hyderabad district in India to participate in a two-day reflection process.

After a four-month needs assessment, endless school visits, meetings with government officials, presentations, and data gathering and analysis, the Verizon Innovative Learning Program was launched with the Teacher’s Workshop in Hyderabad on the February 25-26, 2014.

The evening of 24th was vibrant and full of activities in preparation of the workshop next morning. My hotel room became the activity hub with labeled and coded computers spread across every possible location downloading software to provide hands-on practice to teachers next day. IIE team members made final touched-ups to the presentation and searched and downloaded a You Tube video. Many new ideas popped up, sometimes getting rejected and sometimes responded by “Aha”—all for the purpose of generating awareness and understanding of the program during the next two days and providing new skills for implementing effective pedagogy and education technology for Science and Math teachers.

The next morning, when I arrived at the workshop venue, I found myself in a room full of women, including principals and teachers of participating school. There was a quietness, which I interpreted as curiosity. Soon we decided to break the ice with an interesting introduction exercise. Participants created a Bubble Map describing their key qualities, while highlighting one unique trait that added value for their school. Laughter followed, along with friendly teasing, new revelations, and a congenial environment for reflection sessions and exercises. These activities underscored the importance of finding a vision for oneself, aligning personal goals and organization goals, and being creative: to innovate, to change our lives, to challenge our comfort zone, and to transform our organizations. At the same time, a deep realization emerged about the need to foster 21st-century learning skills, not just among students, but among the teachers themselves.

The reflective faces, bright eyes, and refreshed participants during lunch break were testimonials of the wonderful experience the group had in the morning. This was followed by technical sessions on effective pedagogy and integration of education technology throughout the rest of the workshop.

The IIE team looks forward for hosting another workshop with Chennai school teachers next week, and we hope to have the same satisfying experience. The program envisages a series of capacity-building workshops for teachers in the next 10 months.

“I enjoyed the program, I would really put the things I learnt into practice and see it works out well, it was a program from which we would go back to our school with fresh minds to teach, it was a friendly atmosphere with good rapport, hope it works out well practically in the school. May Your Mission of Empowering Girls Child Moto become Successful.”—a participant teacher