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How a pedagogy workshop led to an empowered network of educators

Anupma Harshal

Networking among educators can strengthen the entire education community. In this article, educator Anupma Harshal shares how a pedagogy workshop gave her and many other educators from across the country the opportunity to network and how the entire education community benefitted from it.

Anupma Harshal title
Image compiled by Vijeta Raghuram, using graphics by Gerd Altmann and Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

The journey of a teacher involves continuous learning, adaptation, and collaboration. Often these are facilitated by training programmes from government agencies like the Ministry of Education (MOE), the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and others, which help improve the Teaching Learning Process (TLP) on the whole. One such endeavour was a series of workshops for teachers nominated from DBT-STAR colleges across India. 

These workshops were designed to train the teachers to use research-based pedagogical tools (RBPT) in undergraduate and postgraduate classrooms. This approach focuses the teaching on the process of science, rather than facts, which augments the critical thinking and research skills of students.

These workshops, which took place between March 2016 and January 2019, were organised by the Centre of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CoESME) at IISER, Pune and were jointly sponsored by the Newton Bhabha programme of the British Council, MOE (then Ministry of Human Resource Development) and DBT. A team of experts from the Centre of Science Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK conducted them.

What began as a training ground for teachers, laid the foundation for building an empowered network of individuals. This group represented a diverse set of educators from all science subjects; some were very new to the field, while some had many years of teaching experience. 

The trainee teachers were also encouraged to cascade their learning into regional RBPT workshops. The content for each of these regional workshops was curated by CoESME. 

As the educators began hosting RBPT workshops at their own colleges, they realized the value of connecting with each other. They started sharing their experiences, best practices, and challenges on social media platforms and online forums. This facilitated a sense of community and collaboration, as they supported and learned from one another. The educators discovered that by sharing their experiences and expertise, they could:

• Collaborate on workshop designs: By sharing their workshop plans, they could refine their designs and create a repository of effective activities.

• Share resources and materials: They could exchange resources, such as lesson plans, presentations, and assessments, to enhance their teaching practices.

• Participate in online discussions: They could engage in online forums and discussions, staying updated on the latest developments in higher education

• Mentor and be mentored: They could offer guidance and support to fellow educators while learning from their peers’ experiences.

Several of these educators took on activities that went beyond the RBPT gamut. These individuals forged strong collegial bonds and took this association further to create a thriving community of educators committed to excellence. Motivated by a shared commitment to enhance their teaching methodologies and stay abreast of the latest advancements in their respective fields, these educators formed a network that would soon become a driving force in transforming the educational landscape. Faculty development programs, training workshops, and knowledge-sharing forums invited talented individuals from this pool, fostering professional growth. Through collective brainstorming, these teachers orchestrated subject-specific pedagogy leading to innovative teaching techniques, evaluation methods, and the creation of a common pool of resources that were easily accessible to all the others on online forums.

To date, the educators have kept their active communication channels open, paving the way for the community to stay at the forefront of educational advancements. This effort exemplifies how the coming together of teachers has contributed to the growth and enhancement of an entire educational community.

As these educators continue to connect, share, and learn from each other, they are empowering themselves and their students to make a positive impact. Many of them have hosted each other in college outreach activities that involve awareness of antimicrobial resistance, foldscope workshops, guidance for funding opportunities and more. Their story serves as a testament to the power of networking and collaboration in transforming education and driving meaningful change.

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