With the success of the Inspire Early Learning pilot, one of the village preschools invited us to work with their teachers during the summer break. We conducted an intensive series of workshops (3 months).
The purpose of the pilot was to (1) demonstrate the viability of this program and the concepts, and (2) to train trainers from a local organization’s community development team (trainers of trainers). With those two objectives behind us, we launched a series of workshops that unpacked the concepts in a deeper way for the preschool teachers. The trainers of trainers participated to give examples of what they experienced and to deepen their own understanding.
The basic format of the series was to meet twice weekly for two hours. One of those sessions included an extra hour with children so the teachers could “practice” and apply their learning in an authentic way.
What topics were covered?
1First, we looked at answering the question, “What is learning?” It’s important to understand that learning is an agreement between the teacher and the students. The teacher commits to give the student a rich instructional experience full of content and skills with plenty of practice. The student commits to engage the learning process and construct meaning (knowledge) and build proficiency (skills).
2Second, we explored development in 5 Areas across 25 Goals with many Examples. In educational circles these are known as Domains of Development, Standards, and Benchmarks. But to keep the language accessible to speakers of other languages, we chose to use more familiar terms that convey the same general meaning.
3Third, we looked at the classroom process: giving students experiences, direct instruction, and opportunities for study (practice). This included such things as 10 teaching strategies, learning activities, assessment, and planning.
4Finally, we considered the environment and how to create a classroom culture that nurtures learning. We considered the following concepts: Classroom Culture Strategies, Procedures & Routines, and Management Strategies
As a bonus we looked extensively at age-level characteristics for children between their 3rd and 5th birthdays in the context of the 5 Areas of Development.
What was the outcome?
The teachers and children enjoyed the authentic practice sessions which gave time to apply the principles. The teachers used their creativity to design goal-aligned instruction and activities, to practice classroom management strategies, and to fashion an environment that promotes learning. We enjoyed growing together in the art and craft of teaching. In fact, it went so well that the director of the preschool invited us to conduct the third phase of the process: classroom coaching. More about that in the next blog installment.