AKA Hyderabad partners with TSWREIS for professional development & talent identification | Aga Khan Academies

AKA Hyderabad partners with TSWREIS for professional development & talent identification

20 January 2019

In October 2018, AKA Hyderabad signed an MoU with the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society for joint initiatives on teacher training and recruiting gifted students for scholarship opportunities.

The MOU was signed by Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Head of Academy and Dr. Praveen Kumar IPS, Secretary of TSWREIS at the latter’s official chamber in Hyderabad. It was a two-pronged agreement. Firstly, it allowed for the subsequent screening of hundreds of students from 16 schools forming part of the TSWREIS network to take part in formal assessments conducted by the Academy talent identification team. As a result, three students will be joining the Academy in the residential programme in January 2019 on 120% scholarships. Accompanied by their parents and their respective school principals, the children visited the Academy on 16th November for an official meet-and-greet, as well as a campus tour and interactions with members of the senior leadership team.

The other aspect of the agreement dealt with the selection of 30 graduate teachers who are presently employed in the residential schools, to take part in the Professional Learning for Educators Series (PLES). PLES is a three-tiered competency based professional development programme, designed to build teacher capacity in English classroom delivery; update teachers in current pedagogy and methodology; and develop interactive learning techniques and student-centered teaching methodologies. After an intake test, the selected 30 teachers began their two-week face-to-face training at the AKA Hyderabad campus on Monday 26th November. The objective of the current program is to create a cohort of teachers for 10 districts who would go on to train other colleagues TSWREIS, ensuring that learning is carried forward.

One of the course participants, Ms. Vanaja, spoke about her experiences at the training positively. She talked about being taught to think differently, discarding traditional and monotonous teaching methods in favour of creative and innovative solutions in the classroom. “The activities we have learnt here will help us turn our heterogeneous classes into homogenous classes,” she elaborated during her presentation. “If you divide the class into smaller groups, every child gets the opportunity to come out of themselves. After coming here, I have learnt tools to bring out their inner selves – this matters more than having a lot of knowledge or content. Let us bring out the aspirations of these children.”

Delivered by master trainer Ms. Margaret Das, the teachers concluded the first part of Tier 1 with presentations on Thursday 13th December. “From head of the English department in Senior School to master trainer of the PLES programme is quite a transition,” she shared. “The change from teaching the IB English Language and Literature course to training teachers to teach in language that is authentic using communicative strategies that include an informal but effective approach to grammar usage makes for an exciting and enjoyable challenge,” explains Ms. Margaret.

Tier 2 and 3 of PLES will take place over the next six months. Each tier consists of two-week face-to-face sessions and eight weeks of in-class observation, feedback and lesson planning for teacher-participants. “This agreement came during a critical time, when the Telangana Government is taking steps to provide quality English medium education to all government school students,” explains Rajan Thampi, Manager of Outreach. “It’s laudable to see that these course participants, who were not interested in attending trainings, were so involved that they did not notice that the ten days Tier 1 training was completed.”

Dr. Praveen Kumar IPS was also in attendance at the teacher presentations. "We are living in a very different world, and you have been chosen to take all the lakhs of students within the society to that different world," he said in his address to the trainees. "I have no words to thank the proactiveness and the care and the vision of Dr. Geoffrey Fisher and his team to spread the brillance from the nucleus of Telangana to the satellite schools in the state."