On July 3, Aquatic Public School (APS) kicked off its second school year after their summer break. Like any school in its first years, there are many new systems that need to be implemented in order for the day to day to function well and for students to receive a quality education.
The teachers at APS had requested training on behavioral management in the classroom, so this week, we held a three-part teacher training seminar. One of our goals was to teach them about motivating positive behavior, rather than just punishing the negative. We also emphasized group incentives in addition to the individualized awards that the school already has in place.
We also provided opportunities for the teachers to let us know what issues that seeing arise in the classroom, as our partnership with the school is still relatively new. By the second day of the seminar, we could barely stop the teachers from sharing about their classroom experiences, and we were thrilled to recognize a genuine desire to offer quality education amongst the APS staff.
The day after the seminar, we saw that the customizable charts were already being utilized in their classrooms and that teachers and students were already enjoying the celebration of good behavior!
In India, education functions off of competition. As students make their way through the education system to the university level there are limited seats available. With these factors, much of their educational approach is individualistic to the point of creating hostility between students when working to obtain those seats. In contrast, much of our seminar emphasized the need for students to work together and to build one another up so that all could receive a healthy education that would then go on to meet the needs of their communities. While competition can be a good thing, we also emphasized the team dynamic of competition and how it should result in students being lifted up. We challenged teachers to think about the jobs that these students will someday hold and families that they will someday raise--that they will need to know how to work together with their co-workers and neighbors in order be of benefit to their society.
We began our second session by creating a point system based off of positive participation, discussion and everything we would also hope for their classrooms. The teachers were divided into teams, created team names, and learned our expectations as well as the incentives to participate (winners would get to choose between a new game for their classroom and colorful dry erase markers). They jumped right in and were extremely enthusiastic about participating.
From this model, we focused solely on positive behavior and working together- rather than just getting the ‘correct’ answer. This competition allowed them to begin freely talking about the situations they experience in their classrooms and brought a variety of healthy questions to the surface. We wanted them to experience a classroom full of questions and dialogue that resulted from giving them a goal to work towards. The excitement in the room was profound.
We offered the teachers simple tools to chart positive class points, which could be used in a variety of ways based upon their classroom needs and age levels. Initially as we explained these systems, there was a lot of confusion from the teachers as they so quickly wanted this system to be individualistic and celebrate the “good students.” We showed them the benefit of a whole group working to achieve points and how when one student is weak their whole class will come around them and encourage them to do well so that all can succeed. The teachers asked so many questions and our time together was filled with healthy discussion as we all worked towards possible solutions together.
As we have spent time in classrooms at APS over the past week working with students and teachers, we have seen these systems being implemented by teachers in the classroom and they have been enthusiastic to show us. Each classroom is using the charts differently based upon their classroom needs and students are earning points. The students and teachers are eager to earn points towards prizes. While we have two weeks together to help the teachers implement these systems, we are excited that Rachel Nowlin will be staying for the year to help further this process and help make it applicable and successful for the teachers and their students.