sch wallpaintingFor the past five months we have been focused on creating a learning community. The student/ teachers (between the ages of 15 and 21) have been learning and using math, English, Hindi, History, singing and art, through hands on activities which they can later use in their own classes. This training, which takes place everyday after school, also focuses on lesson planning, considering the needs and level of the children revolving around a certain concept.

In the school we have introduced drama as a means of learning English, Math and Hindi, as well as an instrument for building confidence. We have taken the emphasis off of a ‘book-based’ syllabus and have begun focusing on the learning level of the children. We are using art as way of encouraging personal expression and creativity, and making writing whether in Hindi or English relevant. Recently a library was created, which now shelves over 2000 books both in Hindi and English and is currently expanding. We have found this to be one of the best ways to encourage self-learning. There is also an audio-visual room now that exposes our children to the power of great films. This has served to create opportunities for thinking and writing as well as listening (especially useful for learning English). The teachers have been learning computers, and this will be introduced into the syllabus in the near future.

We have eliminated competitive examinations and have instead introduced personalized on-going assessments and evaluations of the students. One teacher now stays with a group of children, as opposed to different teachers for different subjects, therefore enhancing the student/ teacher relationship allowing for better understanding and communication.

Traditional punishment and reward have been abolished. Most children are engaged in activities and in the case of some behavior problem, discussions and quiet reflection have become ways to promote self-discipline.

Most importantly we have been learning in the process.
One-Year Strategy

This is an area that will immediately receive special attention. We will create an ‘exploring’ environment that stimulates children’s creativity and offers them new experiences. This will include, ropes, climbing obstacles, building blocks and other hands-on materials.

Will be living together in the new teacher residence. Here teachers will experience community living. By living together they will be able to spend their time learning and discussing communication strategies.

In the next year we will publicize opportunities for teacher trainings. Through this process our teachers will also learn how to give teacher trainings. We will also explore the possibilities of hosting learning camps, inviting children and their teachers. Additionally, we hope to produce a publication of our experiences, including those of children, by the end of the 2004-2005 school year.

This will be very important for our school in the next year especially. In order to help the community understand our ideas and what we are doing, we plan to have at least two performances or presentations of learning by next June (one in the fall and one in the spring). We will perform in the villages as well as the school. There is also the possibility of performing in other areas.

Meetings with parents discussing student work (compiled throughout the year in personal portfolios) will help the students to think about their growth, while encouraging parents to better understand their children and become a part of their child’s learning process. These meeting will happen once in the fall and once in the spring. Students and their parents will be informed of their appointment by letter. In the case that parents don’t come for the meetings, the teachers will approach the parents in person, explaining the benefits of the communication and arranging a convenient time.

In the next year we will be networking with other organizations and searching for financial support. This will include donations and scholarships for our teachers. We will also explore the possibilities of creating an exchange program for experienced teachers who have served for a certain term, to travel to and learn in other schools within our network. The AIF Fellow will assist in this process.

We would also like to begin dialogues with the Uttaranchal Education Ministers about possible roles that our school can fulfill in the development of the Education policy of Uttaranchal.