The webinar series, ‘Re-inventing Teaching in a Post-Pandemic World’, organised by Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV), Ernakulam, in collaboration with Shikshangan Education Initiatives, Pune, started auspiciously with a prayer.
Ms. Neethu S. Kumar, Assistant Professor in the School of Linguistics and Literary Studies (LLS) at CVV, hosted the session and introduced the speakers, Ms. Devika Nadig and Mr. Vijay Gupta, Directors, Shikshangan Education Initiatives.
Session 1 – A Strategy for Managing Stress
The first session was on ‘A Strategy for Managing Stress’ and Ms. Devika Nadig started the discussion with ‘when and why one feels stressed’. The session was centred around two areas for dealing with stress – Cognitive skills for keeping stress at bay; and effective strategies for coping with stress.
The speaker first presented four cognitive abilities that a teacher must develop to keep stress away: 1. Planning and Executing teaching 2. Managing time 3. Problem-solving, and 4. Effective communication. She elaborated on how important it is to go with a lesson plan that engages every student in the class, that organises teaching into a cycle of ‘What – How – Whether’.
A four-quadrant graphic of a ‘Time Management Matrix’ was used to explain the strategies to manage time by eliminating time wasters and focus on tasks of high importance and priority. With relevant examples from the context of a COVID hit life, the speaker explained the importance of problem-solving in coping stress and elaborated on the process involved in it. She suggested practising awareness as part of effective communication so as to avoid stress during a dialogue with another person.
The speaker then presented seven strategies for dealing with stress: 1. Engaging in internal dialogue 2. Developing psychological hardiness 3. Practising breathing 4. Releasing endorphins into the body 5. Attending to random acts of kindness 6. Maintaining a Gratefulness Diary 7. Spending time with positive people. These strategies were discussed in a very practical context of resuming schooling in a post-pandemic world and attracted many questions from the participants.
The session ended with Ms. Nadig and Mr. Gupta answering the participants’ questions. This also led to a few topics that the speakers foresee to be discussed in the upcoming sessions.
526 educators from across the country took part in the session and opened meaningful discussions through their questions.
Session 2 – A Strategy for Motivating Students for Learning
‘A Strategy for Motivating Students for Learning’ was the theme for the second session in the online teacher training workshop series, ‘Re-inventing Teaching in a Post-Pandemic World’, organised by Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth in collaboration with Shikshangan Education Initiatives, Pune. Today’s speaker, Shri Vijay Gupta, the Co-founder and Director of Shikshangan Education Initiatives spoke on how to motivate learners and the strategies teachers could use to encourage students in the process of learning.
Shri Gupta began the session began with a detailed discussion on the five principles of motivation: relevance, control, self-efficacy, interest and social interaction. The principle of relevance points out that students learn better when they know how the syllabus is relevant and can be applied to real life. The teaching strategy would be to focus on experiential learning by showing them real-life examples. The principle of control says that there must be autonomy is learning and students must be given choices. This may be applied by letting them choose their assignments and homework, rather than assigning them a topic which is fully dictated by the teacher. The principle of efficacy mainly looks at the confidence the students have in themselves to grasp a subject. To ensure that students have understood the topic, teachers revise lessons regularly along with formative assessments. The principle of interest looks at how a class caters to the multiple intelligences of the students. Students may be verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal or naturalist. The task of the teacher is to cater to these interests while engaging them in a lesson. Teachers can use various modes of teaching like audio lessons, video clips, debates or a field trip. Teachers can also invite questions from the students. The last principle is that of social interaction. In every class, teachers can set aside a few minutes for group discussions.
The session concluded with asking teachers to come up with lesson plans taking care of the five principles of motivation. The session also conveyed to the teachers how they can put in the right effort and encourage all the learners. The session was later open for discussion and was followed by an active question-answer session. The discussion lasted for an hour and the speaker answered all the questions. The questions ranged from strategies for encouraging different kinds of learners to motivating students as well as parents in attending online classes. The session was well received by the 550 participants.
Session 3 – A Strategy for Developing Habits of the Mind
Day 3 of the online workshop series, 'Re-inventing Teaching in a Post-Pandemic World' saw another thought-provoking session by Ms. Devika Nadig, Director of Shikshangan Education Initiatives. Titled 'Teaching Habits of the Mind', this session focused on the concept of ‘habits of the mind’, their importance and how to cultivate them. The set of sixteen ‘intellectual behaviours’ forms the core of intelligence. They include ideas and behaviours such as metacognition, asking questions and using both, external and internal senses to experience the world, among others. The speaker listed and explained each in detail, using suitable real-life examples and anecdotes. She highlighted why each habit was important and gave practical suggestions for connecting these habits to the subject and the topic being taught, as well as how teachers could model these habits for students to emulate. She emphasised that these habits must be seen as a part of the curriculum and not external to it.
After such an intriguing and interesting presentation, it was but natural that many questions would be asked. The second half of the session focused entirely on participants asking their questions about this concept and ways of bringing it into the classroom. Ms. Nadig answered each question in detail, with relevant examples.
As this was the last session that would be conducted by the resource persons from Shikshangan, participants were invited to give quick feedback about their experience over the past three days. A series of effusive and heartfelt compliments followed, underlining the usefulness of the sessions delivered and the positive impact the trainers had upon them. The session was attended by 588 participants.
Session 4 – Planning Lessons for Virtual Classrooms
‘Creative and Digital Ways to Stay Close to Students’ was the rather apt subtitle to the session on ‘Planning Lessons for Virtual Classrooms’, on the fourth day of the webinar series, ‘Re-inventing Teaching in a Post-Pandemic World’, organised by Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV), Ernakulam, in collaboration with Shikshangan Education Initiatives, Pune. This session was taken by Ms. Vishaka Venkat, Assistant Professor at Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, and dealt with a plethora of tools that teachers could use to make online learning more engaging and exciting.
The session got off to a frantic and fun start as the speaker explained the use of Google Jam Board through an interactive activity, meant to serve as an example of a warm-up task. Following this, she took learners through a review of the aspects of lesson planning, as a precursor to an examination of various online tools and how they could fit in at different stages of the teaching-learning process. The importance of planning interactive sessions, and keeping communication lines open during online sessions, was also discussed.
Among the tools discussed were Padlet, Epic Pen, Whiteboard, MS Paint (for images, interactive text, and annotation), Popplet (for making flowcharts), Renderforest (for making videos), and Canva and Prezi (for creating slides and interesting visualisations). Tools for creating crosswords, and techniques such as polls to retain students’ attention, were also described. At the end of the session, the advantages of using these tools, as well as their drawbacks and ways of overcoming them, were explained. The session closed with a practical assignment for all participants: to use one of the tools discussed to prepare a brief lesson plan of their own.
The feedback and comments from the participants’ chat box were a testament to how well this session was received, with multiple requests for further training and sessions, among other appreciative messages.
588 educators from across the country took part in the session.
Session 5 – Assessing Learners Online
Being the last in the series, the webinar on day 5 focussed on the topic ‘Assessing Online Learners’. This was an interactive session that focussed on the different tools and methods that could be used to effectively assess students online. The session was taken by Asst. Professor Neethu S Kumar.
The session started with a recap of the previous session in which participants were asked to respond to an online poll. Subsequently, the speaker went on to explain how an interactive class is essential for an equitable assessment of students. She also focussed on the different stages of assessment such as Recap, Warm-up, Presentation etc. and explained how assessment can be done at any of these stages.
The crux of the session focussed on the methods through which formative and summative assessment can be done online. The speaker also looked at how assessment can be done at different stages of learning through exams, reports, or through self-assessment tests.
The help of an online gaming platform called Kahoot was used by the speaker to gauge the time taken by the participants to complete a certain common task. The session also focussed on how such data can be used for the objective assessment of students.
The last part of the session focussed on the different challenges that may arise due to the use of such online platforms for assessment. The participants were divided into groups using a feature in the Zoom pro software and were subsequently asked to discuss and come up with possible challenges. The biggest challenge was identified to be the difficulty in making sure that students do not cheat.
The session, which had promised to give an overview of digital tools and strategies, had smartly used a few of these tools to make it more interactive. The session also provided insights into how technology, rather than being disadvantageous, can be advantageous for the successful assessment of students.
The session ended with the speaker answering the participant’s questions. 526 participants from across the country took part in the session and actively participated in the session.