Importance of Fellow-Teacher Engagement

Author: Monika Thangavelu, Bhumi Fellow

Synopsis:

I really think the most important aspect of the fellowship is to have continuous engagement with teachers. While we have a lot of spaces for children, it is essential we have spaces for teachers to share, express vulnerability, learn, grow and glow.

I still remember my ice-breaker session with my school teachers. I was curious to know my teachers. At the same time, I was afraid if they would be welcoming and how I would fit along. But I was fascinated to see the bond between the teachers at school. One of the activities was to pair up and introduce their colleague. Teachers started to share positive traits about each other. This was when my nervousness turned to a feeling of faith. I believed they would treat me the same and yes, they received me with open arms.

Since day one, I have seen great enthusiasm in my school teachers. This also stems from my school’s HM’s attitude. She is open to opportunities and also encourages other teachers to be participative. Many of my ideas were implementable at school because of her acknowledgment, acceptance, and willingness. At our school, we have had 

– Sharing spaces;

– Co-creation spaces;

– Informal spaces; and

– Learning circles.

In sharing spaces, we have discussed the needs of the school and children. It helped us work as a team keeping “child at the center”. Creating a timetable and getting online classes scheduled was possible through co-creation spaces. I didn’t recognize the importance of an informal space until we had one. Teachers engaged actively throughout and mutual trust and bond were formed out of it. What amazes me about all these spaces is the attendance percentage. There has always been more than 85% teacher attendance in formal and informal spaces.

Lastly, talking about learning circles (LC’s) for teachers, the motivation to organize one came from LC’s organized by the program team at quarterly intervals for us (fellows). I and my co-fellow working at Macaulay School planned to conduct a four-part series. Our main aim was to enable teachers to think beyond teaching. Think and act as “Teacher Leaders”. So, we began the series with goal setting for self-development, followed by reflecting on their relationship with students. The last before will be on envisioning an enabling environment for school and finally, leveraging school-community partnership. 

I acknowledge that there has been mutual learning and growth. To quote an incident, one of my teachers taught me the easy way of using the Tamil Keypad in WhatsApp last week. 

I really think the most important aspect of the fellowship is to have continuous engagement with teachers. While we have a lot of spaces for children, it is essential we have spaces for teachers to share, express vulnerability, learn, grow and glow. It creates a positive impact on their social and emotional wellness, relationship with others, student outcomes, and creates a sustainable environment.

Education can transform lives. It can create a future where every child gets a fair chance at achieving their fullest potential. “We reap just what we sow.” That is why, a brighter and better tomorrow, starts today.

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