“Introduction to Best Teaching Practices” – Level 1 Awareness Training
Bajura is a remote district of Western Nepal, with one of the lowest Human Development Indexes (HDI) in the country. PHASE has been working in Bajura for the last two years, providing livelihood and health programmes. There are also many challenges for the education system. Teachers face issues such as a lack of educational materials and limited knowledge about teaching methods, making it difficult for students to receive a high-quality education. In January 2016, 52 teachers from 7 schools of Wai VDC, Bajura took part in an Introduction to Best Teaching Practices – Awareness Level Training, allowing them to learn effective methods of classroom management and teaching. The programme was funded by the City of Vienna via PHASE Austria.
Nepal Teacher Training Innovations (NTTI) is a PHASE Nepal project ensuring that children living in extremely remote and resource-poor Himalayan communities have access to excellently trained teachers and effective schools. Over 18,000 students across Nepal have benefited from PHASE’s programme which aims to improve teaching practices, train teachers in girls’ sensitivity and empowerment, and offers on-going mentoring to teachers. The three-day Awareness Level Trainings in Bajura took place in two sessions (20-22 January 2016 and 23-26 January 2016) and was formally commenced and concluded by School Inspector Vivi Raja Soti, on behalf of the District Education Office, Bajura. The School Inspector went on to suggest that the training be expanded into other regions, commending the positive impact of the trainings for the teachers and pupils.
PHASE’s NTTI trainings focus on teaching practical methods that can be used to effectively communicate information in the classroom, promoting student engagement and ensuring that all students understand the material. By applying these methods, teachers are able to create child-friendly learning environments in which students feel safe to share their ideas and in which information is communicated in multiple modalities (visual, auditory and tactile/ kinaesthetic). The trainings in Bajura allowed teachers to understand how to use group work in the classroom and the importance of asking more open-ended questions and building curiosity, as well as how to create lessons plans and use three different learning styles.
Sukili Bista, a teacher at Chandra Nath Lower Secondary School in Kolti, Bajura for 7 years, took part in the Bajura teacher training and comments that the programme provided many ideas and methods that can be easily applied to her classroom. Before the training, Sukili was confused about how to effectively teach a class, but the training has increased her confidence level and provided her the support she needed to give good-quality education to her pupils.
Madan Regmi is a teacher at the Jana Prakash Higher Secondary School in Kolti, Bajura. At the age of 44, he has been teaching for 28 years and describes teaching as not only his profession, but also his passion. PHASE’s teacher training programme aims to transform classrooms into hubs of meaningful learning, where students participate actively and become more engaged in their own learning. One of the teaching methods taught during the trainings is to give instruction in a sequence. Madan has found this very useful, particularly as 7 lessons must be taught each day and there are a limited number of teachers.
Sumi Shakya, one of PHASE’s senior teacher trainers, commented on the educational difficulties faced specifically by girls. PHASE aims to make teachers aware of the unique needs of female students through Girls’ Sensitivity Trainings. Focus groups have shown that girls often miss school because they fear physical punishment if they provide an incorrect answer. The Introduction to Best Teaching Practices Training provides classroom management techniques in order to create a positive learning environment. Madan has learnt how to manage the classroom without punishment. He comments that he no longer brings a stick to the classroom, but has instead started to praise good behaviour.
The positive changes seen in the classroom will be consolidated through regular supervision and monitoring by PHASE staff. The most talented Awareness Level graduates are selected to train as Mentor Teachers, who learn to recognise quality instruction and effective classroom management strategies. The mentors can provide meaningful supportive feedback to teachers, which Sukili believes is particularly helpful as it allows her questions to be answered and has increased her enthusiasm. The mentors not only provide reports to PHASE Master Trainers, but also serve as examples to other teachers, inspiring their peers to emulate their commitment to providing quality instruction and to fostering the academic achievement of all students.