Schools of the future: digital, inclusive and empowering

Action Research success stories by accredited teachers were in focus on the second day (3 December 2014) of the Teacher Accreditation programme organised by the British Council in Delhi .

The first session chaired by Dr Angela Cook included discussions on International Learning and Global Education where action researchers addressed global issues in the education domain prevalent in most countries and how they are being addressed internationally. The researchers experienced that kids learn better when they are empowered and given responsibilities, whereby they can interactively mix with other children, be more confident and innovative in their thinking and actions. Not only children but this serves as a learning process for teachers as well.

The other simultaneous session chaired by Arijit Ghosh focussed on discussing digital Innovation in the classroom to enhance learning capacities. Action researchers through their experience learned that digital games are a smart way to teach, learn and map what is being taught to the curriculum. This is not only true for higher achievers but covers children with all abilities. Smart and digital media component attracts students easily and ensures complete involvement as children are always enthusiastic about playing games and in turn learning playfully.

After informal discussion and exchange of opinions over refreshments there were two simultaneous and engaging sessions for mentors and mentees. The former chaired by Karanam Pushpanadam focussed on challenges and opportunities for mentoring Teacher Researchers. The mentors came up with concerns which they face while guiding their mentee for the action research projects. They believe certain level of flexibility in the completion timeframe, regular face to face interaction with mentees for better understanding and communication, multiple review stages, restricted submission size are some aspects which if included as guidelines in delivering the 2 3 4projects would facilitate the mentoring process and enable achieving better and more result oriented outcomes.

The other concurrent session featured action research success stories which centred around projects aimed at inclusion and mainstreaming students and learners with special needs. This session chaired by Rittika Chanda Parruck featured some truly interesting cases where it has been observed that exposing children with special needs to activities is one of the best ways to assess their strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. This is a positive and good practice of inclusion which makes children happy and gives them a direction. Susan Douglas mentioned a very interesting practice followed in the UK which is a more social rather than medical model of inclusion of children with special needs where a school adopts to the needs of a child rather than the other way round. She emphasized that every child is educable provided they are placed in the right settings which they deserve. The presenters acknowledged British Council’s support and effort to bring a positive change in the lives of children with special needs through their work in action research projects.

The final session of the conference featured a keynote speech from Andy Buck on Schools of the future: Time for change. He pointed out that as teachers their prime responsibility lies in instilling aspirations, resilience and confidence in children to face challenges to be successful as a human being and as a professional. A favourable climate is what he referred to in terms of the learning
environment in a class can immensely impact children to feel included. Teachers should
give their student a voice so that they may take charge and work together towards inclusive
growth. Andy acknowledged the work of all action researchers and their contribution towards
making a positive change in schooling for children.

The Teacher Accreditation Conference concluded with closing comments by the chairperson Susan Douglas who acknowledged the participation of all teachers, teacher researchers and all those who supported to make the conference a success.

Contributed by Ruma Roy.

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