“QCT workshop can be used for children, as well as adults. It is life's learning”, said a teacher participant after the two day workshop on Whole School Quality Circle Time organized by The Teacher Foundation as a part of the School Improvement Project for government schools in Raigad, Maharashtra. The School Improvement Project in Raigad is supported by Swades Foundation, Mumbai across a two-year time frame. The Teacher Foundation will work with 131 Heads of schools and 409 teachers during the course of the project. The project aims to empower teachers and build their capacity to make learning a meaningful and enjoyable experience for children.
As a part of the project TTF had reached out to 286 teachers and heads in Raigad from 23 October 2014 to 26 October 2014, training them in QCT, to help them to understand the ethos of the Whole School Quality Circle Time Model to promote positive behaviour and respectful relationships in their schools. Raigad is one of the largest districts on the Konkan coast of Maharashtra, India. The closest cities are Mumbai and Pune, approximately four hours away, by road. It has rural economy which mainly depends on agriculture, fishing and poultry. The terrain is mostly hilly with small schools located on different hillocks. Children walk up long distances to their schools or hitch rides if there are buses or rickshaws operating on their routes. In the majority of schools, children take the responsibility of cleaning the school every morning, arranging furniture, closing the school etc. The sense of community is very strong amongst teachers and students. Majority of teachers also own farmlands and perform other roles in the village community. Also, everyone knows everyone in a village. Hence, in many ways, Raigad serves as a unique environment for Jenny Mosley's QCT.
The group dynamics are unique in Raigad. Majority of teachers are male, as is common in the government sector in India. One can easily notice insensitivity or rather, a conditioned response on the part of men to not wait for a woman to respond or offer her views or finish what she is saying. A lot of it can be ascribed to the culture in India and in these areas in particular. The QCT training is a very powerful tool to challenge such norms. One of the most moving moments on the second day of a training has been when an Urdu medium teacher tapped the desk and said “I have a point” (in Hindi) in a polite manner when her male colleagues didn't notice her raising hand.
Some of the other reflections that teachers shared were the effects of labelling in an environment like theirs. Since villages are often close – knit communities, labels don't stay restricted to the school's compound walls. They tend to follow the child into the community. Right from their peers in school to adults in the neighbourhood, everyone starts attaching these labels to them. A teacher shared his own experience of labelling a girl 'slow' as a child and how that stayed with her till she left the school, although she wasn't really 'slow'. He felt the urge to tell her parents and neighbours to stop calling her so just because a teacher like him said so in a fit of rage. Teachers also identified QCT to be a wonderful platform for students to share and care because, even in villages, many children are now growing up in nuclear families. QCT can help in making them open to connect with other children, share their problems, offer help and show appreciation.
Teachers are not only thoughtful and reflective, but also critical in examining various concepts. Some of the teachers actually read about concepts like Emotional Intelligence and shared how they felt QCT could help in making children emotionally more aware and expressive. They ask questions such as QCT being a UK based concept, might have been built considering the kids over there. Hence, how much does it work with children from India and other parts of the world? Is your work backed by any research ? The Teacher Foundation can very well answer these queries since it has been witness to the success of QCT for so many years in so many different schools across sectors and economic strata. Moreover, as TTF is also doing research in the area of Social and Emotional Learning our belief in QCT and the Whole School Ecosystemic Model is further strengthened.
At the end of the training, teachers express feeling more empowered. They confess of never having thought so much about themselves – their thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, values, self-esteem etc. Following are some of the testimonials from the teachers trained Whole School Quality Circle Time in Raigad:
"In 22 years of my teaching career, I have never felt as important as a teacher and a person, as I felt during these 2 days"
"Many trainings happen. Very few stay with us. This definitely will because it has touched our heart"
"So many trainers come. They go on speaking and we are at the receiving end. This is the first time when a training has made us think, reflect and come up with answers to our questions. You spoke less, but made us think more"
“It was person - centered training and that is why everybody involved and participated in activities”.
“To bring about a change, you need people who can be good guides. Country can progress when this change occurs. There is a lot to learn from this workshop which can bring about a change.”
Posted by Monila Sapre, Project Coordinator, School Wellbeing