When was the last time you saw your teacher playing a blindfolded game? Or a relay race with other teachers. It would be a treat to see our teachers let loose and step back from the everyday juggle they go through, wouldn’t it?
On July 21, teachers of 12 government schools in the Hennagara Cluster (Anekal Block) let their guard down to witness the importance of education from a different perspective. Samuha Sambhrama, an initiative under the Cluster Transformation Project of MANTRA saw 36 teachers and school leaders participating in an hour-long get-together.
“We started our work in the Hennagara cluster a month before the event. As a team, we visited all the schools in the cluster and explained the intent of the programme to the school leaders and teachers. The objective was clear – we wanted teachers from all schools to gather in one place and create a platform to meet each other.” – Channakeshava VP, Field Associate, MANTRA.
For many teachers, it was the first time that they were meeting each other despite being in the same cluster. In the absence of a cluster resource person (CRP) in Hennagara, the block resource person (BRP) Mr. Shankar Murthy attended the event to hear what teachers had to say and share his own ideas with them.
Fun activities with a deeper message
None of the teachers and school leaders at the event shied away from participating in team building activities that our team members on the field had meticulously planned for them.
The first game was where teachers were divided into two groups and obstacles were placed on the ground that separated the two groups. One teacher from each group was then blindfolded and had to traverse the length of the ground without stepping on the obstacles. Other teachers from each group were given the responsibility to guide the blindfolded teacher.
In another game, with the same two groups, each teacher had to place a coin on their elbow and go around the line of teachers standing behind without dropping the coin. Once the teacher reached the starting point, they had to place the coin on the elbow of the next teacher and the race continued this way.
The motive behind these games wasn’t just to have the teachers do something fun and interactive. As one teacher later explained, “While playing the game every teacher had their own competitive spirit and insecurities of losing. The children that we teach everyday possess the same spirit and insecurities to a much larger extent.”
She further remarked that it becomes the responsibility of the teacher to mold that knowledge and shape the child’s overall characteristics.
The idea was to let teachers take the lead in hosting the program for each other. We were very happy when they agreed to anchor the program, deliver the welcome address and vote of thanks while some teachers also shared their experiences to the entire gathering.
What does each student, teacher, and cluster need?
Towards the end of the event, teachers were given chart papers to specify what according to them is necessary for students, teachers and the cluster as a whole to improve the quality of education in government schools.
Some of the suggestions that came out of this activity were:
- Fun games for students while learning new concepts
- Teaching them spoken English
- Basic computer knowledge for students
- Innovative and attractive TLMs for teachers
- Computer training for teachers
- A healthy working environment
- Bringing back drop out students in the cluster back to school
- Conducting more Parent-Teacher meetings
- Inviting experts from various fields to talk about subjects and school education
In the BRP’s words
“We, as teachers have a responsibility towards all students that come to our schools and classes with different capacities, backgrounds, and capabilities. Identifying each of their uniqueness is the mark of a good teacher. Organizations like MANTRA have been with us to see this journey towards education transformation become a reality. It is up to us as teachers and school leaders to understand how we can become better at what we do.” – Shankar Murthy, BRP, Anekal block.
Why Samuha Sambhrama?
Teachers in state-run government schools have their plates full all year long – curriculum completion, in-service training, administrative obligations, maintaining interactions with parents and more. Once caught up in a web of duties, there’s little time to think about education from a larger perspective.
Samuha Sambhrama was introduced as a means to get teachers working in the same cluster together. While the concept of this was already in place, we were able to achieve an energetic outcome for it. to understand how whole school transformation can be largely executed.
As of today, one can see a lot of engagement from the community – teachers, school leaders, SDMC members, the Gram Panchayat as well as parents in ensuring that every child receives education. Now the plan is to chart how this education can improve in quality, making our children ready to become future leaders.
By Team MANTRA