Workshop for Teachers of English

Inaugural Session

The Two-Day Teacher Training Workshop for Teachers of English, organised by Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV), started auspiciously with a prayer and with the lighting of a lamp, signifying the illuminating power of learning. Following this, Dr. Vanisree Ramanathan, Head of the School of Ethics, Governance, Culture and Social Systems, welcomed the participants to the workshop, positioning it within the context of the newly launched B.Ed. programmes at CVV. The inaugural address was given by Prof. Nagaraj Neerchal, Vice-Chancellor of CVV, who highlighted the University’s mission of spreading awareness about the relevance of Indian Knowledge Systems in today’s world, and explained how CVV’s programmes on education, of which this workshop is a part, are critical to its philosophy. Dr. Leela Ramamurthy, Advisor and Chief Coordinator for the Workshops, proposed the vote of thanks, expressing her gratitude to the teachers and their principals for carving out time from their schedules to attend the workshop, and to the various people involved in their organisation.



Session 1- Managing Classrooms

Dr. Leela Ramamurthy, a vastly experienced educator as well as a teacher trainer, spoke on ‘Classroom Management’. She pointed out the importance of organising and planning the classroom to cater to the needs of every learner. Borrowing from various theories of child development, as well as her own experience in the field, she gave the participants various insights into the teaching-learning process and shared key pointers on achieving a bond with the student, how to be inspirational in the classroom, bringing humour into the classroom and above all, how to learn from one’s mistakes and strive to improve continually as a teacher. Topics like how to manage time in the classroom and how to ensure student commitment, dedication, class participation and discipline, were also discussed, through an engaging video on classroom management. The suggestions provided by her were taken in by the participants enthusiastically.


Session 2 – Differentiated Learning Strategies

The second session, taken by Ms. Neethu S. Kumar, Asst. Professor in the School of Linguistics and Literary Studies (LLS) at CVV, served as an introduction to the concept of differentiated learning. The participants started by answering a questionnaire on Multiple Intelligences, which highlighted for everyone the different types of qualities and potential that learners possess. True to the spirit of the workshop, this was an interactive session as teachers gave their opinions on what constituted a differentiated classroom and shared their own methods to teach learners. Through a series of thought-provoking questions, interspersed with relevant illustrations, the speaker urged the participants to consider a number of issues: why we must practise differentiated learning, who it benefits the most and where differentiation can be most effectively used in the teaching-learning process. The session ended with two engaging and fun-filled activities, a song-based group task and a ‘conscience alley’ as a demonstration of the kinds of tasks that could be used in this context.


Session 3 – Teaching, Listening and Speaking in a Learner-Centred Classroom

The third session, taken by Ms. Vishaka Venkat, Asst. Professor in the School of Linguistics and Literary Studies (LLS) at CVV, focused on sharpening listening and speaking skills in a learner-centred classroom. An audio recording of Ruskin Bond’s “The Black Cat”, was played in four parts. The session began with the participants listening to an audio clip, followed by an activity wherein they had to complete a crossword puzzle. The activity showed how all the learners, seeking specific information, can be involved actively in a listening skill session. Next, the session encouraged the participants to sit in a group and compete with each other in answering questions through ‘grass chits’, which allowed them to comprehend the implicit knowledge of the text. To integrate speaking skills with listening skills, the next activity asked the participants to arrange themselves according to the lines which appear sequentially in the text. The activity was followed by a role play by the participants, imagining the conversation between two characters in the story. The session ended with an activity where the participants synthesised the whole story and reproduced them through a comic strip.



Session 4 – Teaching Grammar and Vocabulary in a  Learner-Centred classroom

The fourth session, taken by Sri Saurabh Singanapalli, Asst. Professor in the School of Linguistics and Literary Studies (LLS) at CVV, focused on how to teach grammar and vocabulary in a learner-centred classroom. The session began with a discussion on why grammar and vocabulary should be taught in schools, followed by a discussion on how it can be taught in a learner-centred classroom. Teaching simple, compound and complex sentences was chosen as an example for an activity, where the participants were asked to name a superhero team and give a description of the members in sentences with no more than three words, as a means of introducing the topic of simple sentences. The participants later discussed how this could be further used to teach compound and complex sentences in a classroom. Similarly, the participants were also introduced to online resources, like Quizlet, which can be used for vocabulary drills. There was also a video showing an example of how classes can be conducted with a focus on differentiated learning. The session came to a close as the participants discussed innovative methods in teaching grammar and vocabulary.



Day 2 – Session 1 – Motivating Learners

The first session, on the second day of the Teacher Training Workshop for Teachers of English, was on the topic of ‘Motivating Learners’ and was taken by Dr. Shilpa Pandit, from the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Heritage at CVV. She prompted the participant teachers to set their own agenda for the session and this collaborative churning identified three key focus areas: how to deal with life span changes in learners, how to motivate students by encouraging their diversity through encoding specificity in teaching and how to motivate students at challenging times of the day such as after the lunch break and in the last period of the day. The participants worked in groups and came up with various suggestions under each of these areas, which were subsequently taken up for detailed discussion. Further, Dr. Pandit stressed the importance of looking at the ‘big picture’, instead of merely taking a step-by-step approach: essentially, getting learners to appreciate not just the what and how of learning but also the why of learning. Techniques of doing these, such as mind maps, were also suggested. Subsequently, the speaker emphasised the importance of making positive upward comparisons (comparisons to aspirational icons that the students themselves identify with) to inspire learners and thus motivate them. The session closed with a review of the topics covered, a discussion on what went well and what could have been done better, as well as an engaging question and answer session.


Day 2 – Session 2 –  Teaching Reading and Writing in a Learner-Centred Classroom

Dr. Sandhya Shankar, Assistant Professor at CVV’s School of Linguistics & Literary Studies, began the session on ‘Teaching Reading and Writing in a learner-centred Classroom’ with a few comic strips of Calvin and Hobbes on writing and the limitations imposed on creativity by the education system. These piqued the participants’ curiosity and reminded them of the hilarious and exasperating reactions of students to writing tasks in the classrooms.


She followed it up with a Learner-Centred lesson on teaching reading, specifically the sub-skill of reading to comprehend explicit and implicit information. The story ‘The Lady or the Tiger’ by Frank Stockton was the chosen reading text for the model lesson which took the participants through the stages of pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading. The first two stages made use of an anticipation sheet and a story map to demonstrate how every learner is involved and focused on the task at hand while engaged in silent reading. This was supplemented by whole class discussions of individual responses. The post-reading stage was an excellent demonstration of a variation of the jigsaw reading technique.


The second part of the session introduced ways of implementing differentiated learning in a writing classroom. The chain tasks which involved groups of participants contributing to stories, poems or comic strips added fun to the learning and saw every participant engrossed in their expressions of creativity. The session concluded with the explanation that a differentiated classroom isn’t necessarily limited to individual activities alone but can also be made a reality with whole class as well as group activities. Energised participants filed out of the classroom submitting ‘Exit chits’ recording feedback on the model lesson, with minds full of plans of implementing the practice in their classrooms.

Session 3 – Participants’ Demonstration Session

True to the theme, the last session of the workshop saw the wholehearted involvement of the participants. Inspired by the tasks used in the previous sessions, they came together in groups to implement differentiated learning in the classroom be it in the teaching of listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary or grammar. The practising teachers and the simulated student audience had great fun in facilitating and participating in the activities. The resource persons also pitched in as students for these demonstration sessions. Some of activities such as a five-stage vocabulary quiz and rewriting the nouns and adverbs in a popular nursery rhyme witnessed even the resource persons in splits with uncontrollable laughter. Everyone made use of the opportunity to showcase their ideas. The demonstrations were followed by feedback from the resource persons. The session concluded with a discussion on the strategies to make such tasks feasible in their classrooms on a daily basis.



Valedictory Session

Vice-Chancellor Neerchal was the guest for the session. Ms. Neethu S. Kumar presented the report of the workshop, which was followed by the Vice-Chancellor’s valedictory address and the distribution of certificates. Two of the participants shared their experience of the workshop, appreciating the depth of Chinmaya Mission’s vision and the professionalism of the institutions that they had created. Mr. Saurabh Singanapalli proposed the vote of thanks. The workshop ended with a commitment from the participant teachers to attempt the techniques discussed at the workshop in their own classes.