Our first session named ‘Shikshak aur Maati’ was organized with the aim of collectively introducing the programme to School leaders, teachers, and educational functionaries and creating a platform for HMs, teachers and all the educational functionaries to come together to share their learnings, experiences, discuss their strengths, challenges and brainstorm so as to collectively come up with solution(s).
At the initial stage, we were quite skeptical about the plan – Would the teachers be interested enough to participate? Would we be able to properly execute it especially when it’s all the teachers, functionaries, school leaders? Most of all, would the turnout be good as we did it on a very short notice (within a span of just 2-3 days)?
There were ambiguity and skepticism regarding a few things but we held on to the plan and went ahead with it. The idea behind doing it on Teachers’ Day was simple, we wanted them to feel the importance and belongingness towards their work, schools and us.
We thought that it is a good time to call for this session and provide them with this platform and what better than starting with listening to the teachers, school leaders, functionaries share their experiences and learnings. Basically, creating a community where they are able to feel that connect – that belongingness.
The theme of the session (and also the name of one of the activities conducted) was ‘Humara School, Humari Samasya, Hum Samadhaan’ (Our school, our problems, We the solution). We also saw it as an opportunity for us to break the ice and build rapport with all the stakeholders present there. We conducted three activities in total.
Our first activity ‘Karvaan’ was a teachers’ day special reflection activity, which directed towards the attendees sharing their experiences – Their moment of pride as part of their journeys as teachers/ in the public education system, reflecting back on their time as students, a memory or a lesson from their favourite teacher, etc. To our surprise, beautiful reflections came forward and we saw the willingness to share.
For the rest of the session, we made them strategically work in groups to encourage them to start a conversation about what and how’s of their problems. We were mesmerized to see the level of engagement and enthusiasm.
Our second activity ‘Humara School, Humari Samasya, Hum Samadhaan’ was ideated with the thought of providing the attendees with a different lens and a wider perspective to think. They were given hypothetical situations about different schools and were asked to look for strategies for School Improvement concluded with presentations by each group.
“During the entire activity, from understanding the situation to presentation, what I personally found interesting was the amount of brainstorming and discussions happening in every group – how they were putting in efforts to come up with solutions listening to each other’s opinions patiently, how they motivated each other to come ahead and put their views while their team was presenting. We definitely seem to fulfill our objectives there – encouraging participation, promoting teamwork and fostering collaboration”, says Niveshi Jain, programme manager, Maati.
We have always heard that there is no age to learn new things and we look at ourselves and our teachers as learners too. Learning should be fun for everyone, a period of joyful learning isn’t sufficient to make that learning fun, in fact, it should be a part of learning and teaching methodology. Therefore, we thought of inculcating the element of joyful learning in all our sessions to experiment and create powerful examples telling that you do not need a period for that rather it can be present everywhere every time.
That’s what we noticed when we conducted our last activity with them. We planned it as a fun activity, however, to our astonishment it turned out to be very insightful when we could actually see them connecting themselves to Clay (maati) in different ways.
The basis of this activity was also our belief that a teacher and potter plays somewhat similar roles in their lives. Hence, ‘Maati’ – where every individual in the group was provided with their own set of clay and together they had to create something. We were amazed to see their enthusiasm, their skills with the clay and the masterpieces that were created by them as a team.
It was heartening to see them recalling, finding that profound connection and talking about their childhood days and memories, their hometowns, their villages, their communities, their upbringing – looked like they were traveling back in time to dig in the best of the stories they lived.
To end with, we had a short note from the DPC talking about education, public education system, Maati and the intervention and how hopefully the model will be replicated to more schools as we move ahead with the programme, followed by closing reflections.
“When someone asks me about the session, I can without a second thought mention that for me it was no less than an achievement. Firstly, because I was able to accomplish it with my team. Secondly, there was no resistance from their side. They all accepted it. People often tell me that it’s very challenging to work with government school teachers and then they challenge my work of creating a community. However, I feel there’s always a success when there is a purpose”, says Shreshtha Jain, founder, Maati.
-By team Maati