Tuesday, October 22, 2013

inspirED

Ever since I registered for the Teach for India’s inspirED 2013 at Pune, I was thrilled to meet so many education innovators. To learn from them and share space at a conference was really a gift. I have been travelling continuously almost every weekend since August, so hardly finding time to sit and reflect upon things. I purposefully haven’t planned any travel in the following weeks after inspired. I wanted to reflect upon the takeaways from the conference.

After arriving at the venue at 7.20 sharp, I found a lot of TFI fellows in their inspired t-shirts running around, organizing stuffs to kick-start the conference. I picked up my schedule, beautifully designed ID card which was quite unique in it and wandered around the stalls which were set up by the children. They all had varieties of things to offer from displaying their street play skills to photography. Some had science experiment models to demonstrate while the others had financial and business plans to share.  While the clock kept ticking, the crowd went increasing. Within no time, we all were inside the auditorium and a board read “Sense of Possibility”. That is the theme of the conference. Children made an up roaring entry with drum beat on to the stage to announce the conference open. 

Shaheen gave the inaugural address with a friend of her who was a sweet little boy who said that he wasn’t nervous as Shaheen. I admire Shaheen for her sheer passion on bringing a big difference on education. I can write a separate post on her and her deeds!. She has been always an inspiration. I’ve never got an opportunity to interact with her. Hope will soon get a chance to. Shaheen also shared a video of Nimo on Being Kind which was inspirational. Below is the video link.


Children then demonstrated a Model United Nation Session which they had participated. The debate was on Israel-Palestine issue and they had prepared position papers of different countries on the issue and had to state their country’s stand on this. Impressive!. Mr. Kailash rightly started his keynote speech saying that he was speechless after seeing the children performance.  Jo Chopra from Latika Roy Foundation was the other key note speaker. After the welcome address by Siddharth, the city coordinator of TFI, we moved on to our sessions.

There were 43 speakers and it was hard to choose which session to attend. I had a hard time in picking up sessions:-P. The first session I attended was under the category of Transforming Policies. I attended a session on Assessments in India. It was good to know that people are focusing on learning outcomes and several states are taking steps to measure the same.  An interesting learning was about the Gujarat initiative Gunotsav where the CM himself visits the schools to assess children. I’ve also compiled minutes from all the sessions I attended which I can share individually if anyone needs.

After quickly grabbing the lunch, I happened to interact with a few attendees and then moved on to the next session on transforming school. The session was about community learning in schools. It was more of an interactive session. The session had discussion based on improvising of schools on learning. It would have definitely added more values to teacher’s and principal’s of schools who attended. The final session was on transforming school where I had opted for Brain Rules. This again was a session focused on what to look while teaching, children’s mindset in class etc.,

Overall at the end of day 1, I had listened and heard so many people discussing the importance of every single aspect on education. It was indeed a pleasure to be in a group of 500 people who feel that education is the most important thing and is making efforts to bring the change.

The sessions on Sunday morning started a little late. I opted to attend the session by Rajashree Doshi of The Akanksha Foundation in the morning. This was also under the category of transforming classroom. As I always wanted to learn from teachers of Akanksha I had opted for this one. This was the best session; I had attended in this conference. The way Rajashree presented was exceptional and I would say that everyone who attended this session would agree with me.  She just shared 2 sensational stories from her class to convey the message over the session. Inspirational work by her and her team of volunteers!.

Finally, I attended a session on Technology in Classrooms by a TFI fellow who is using tablets to teach in his schools.  I was keen in attending this as I’ve got some tablets to use in some of the centers we run in Chennai. It was good to learn about the practicalities involved in implementing technology based learning for the children. Interestingly, I also happened to know that people from Akanksha Foundation have started to develop curriculum to teach language using tablets. At the end of the session, I happened to interact with a few of the attendees and panelists who agreed to help me out with contents and software’s for my centers.

Couldn’t believe that the conference had come to end so soon while I was having the lunch on 2nd day. One more thing which amazed me was that everything happened on time!. I sat alone for sometime reflecting upon the sessions!. One addition which I feel that the conference should have is to focus more on rural schools as well.  

Truly inspirED!

P.S: Thanks to Charu didi for editing this post!