Together they covered six of the thirteen States of east and north-eastern India: Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal. They were principals and International Coordinators of fifteen schools getting together in Kolkata for a common cause: as British Council School Ambassadors they connect their own classrooms and guide new schools to connect with far flung corners of the world http://www.britishcouncil.in/programmes/schools/connecting-classrooms.
The British Council-led International School Award is a recognition scheme for schools but there is hard work involved. To get awarded teachers and pupils have to work on specific projects for nearly a year and provide quality evidence through a dossier. There is always resistance to begin with but the journey usually converts sceptics into followers. “The international dimension really helps the school”, says Anjana Saha, principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy, a school that is reinventing itself. “We worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company for the Shakespeare in Schools project, met these wonderful people from Hong Kong in Stratford-on-Avon, and have now been invited to perform in HK funded by the government there.”
For Binati Mishra from Sai International School in Bhubaneswar the ISA journey enabled 60 teachers from the school to join the online courses: https://connectingclassrooms-learning.britishcouncil.org/. Subrata Chattopadhyay from Guru Tegh Bahadur School in Durgapur, collected 15,000 kgs of paper for recycling through the Grand Banyan Project, an initiative of the British Council in collaboration with the NGO I Love My Mother Earth (ILMME) Foundation. “There was not a scrap of paper to be found in any student’s house”, says Chattopadhayay. “Even the parents joined in and came to school with paper for recycling!”
Connecting a remote school in Kansbahal, Orissa to other parts of the world was what Rashmi Mishra managed to do. Technology was the great leveller. “The teachers resisted it at first because they felt that the ISA project was an extra something they didn’t need. When they found out that this could contribute to the now compulsory CCE (Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation) under the CBSE system, they signed up readily”, says Rashmi Mishra. Lorraine Mirza is just back from a trip to the UK. “ISA stimulated us, it is so progressive and takes you one step beyond your present thinking,” feels Lorraine.
Each of them had a story to tell which reaffirms your faith in our teachers. They were pushing boundaries for themselves and their students and helping create a better world. They were enjoying themselves too.
Later this year Kolkata hosts the British Council School Award Ceremony 2013 where over 200 schools from across India will receive recognition for their work in different areas.