Mentoring – A Pilot Project
Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and British Council’s pilot project on Mentoring is truly a wonderful experience. It is first of its kind ever. British Council’s ELISS (English Language Initiative for Secondary Schools) has made a quite a difference in English language teaching across Maharashtra. There has been a considerable shift from a teacher centered classroom to a learner centered one.
Unlike top-bottom, mentoring encourages bottom-up approach. It is to extend further support for the teachers at the ground level for consistency in activity based learning. British Council selected mentors across the state. These mentors were then trained to visit schools around provide support to the teachers. I along with four others represent Osmanabad district as mentors.
How did the project begin in our district?
As directed by RMSA we conducted a workshop for HeadMasters on 13th June 2015 at DIET, Osmanabad. In the presence of EO, we briefed about the project to the HMs and convinced them the importance of mentoring in the district. We got their consent of visiting their school and observing their teachers’ lessons and maintaining records.
It was followed by Mentees’ workshop. We cleared mentors’ and mentees’ role and talked about the importance of observing and being observed. We created mentees’ profile and collected basic information about the mentees. We went in with initial contact and further briefing. We also formed a group on WhatsApp. Meanwhile we were provided every support possible by RMSA and BC. RMSA sent in timely letters to the authorities regarding the project and further instructions for follow up. BC sent in every possible resource required for the project.
After initial start:
As directed by RMSA EO sir sent in a letter addressing my HM to relieve me for five hours weekly to visit schools for the same project. My HM was in a fix about relieving me. He expressed the difficulty of adjusting the timetable, which was already set for the year. Mentees started calling in to know when I am going to visit them. I couldn’t answer them firmly. Yet, I kept encouraging them to do their best in their teaching practices. I kept posting resource and related information about how to make lessons effectively on WhatsApp group. Mentees seemed interested. Luckily, unlike other schools my school has a half day on Thursday due to weekly market in my village. I started investing my other half day to visit schools and that’s how it started.
The best part of this project:
- I get opportunities to witness different ways of conducting same lesson.
- I feel like ‘valued’ by my mentees and the HMs from those schools.
- I get to exchange different activities.
- I get to learn from my mentees.
- The discussion topics among my mentees have been changed to ‘classroom practice’.
- Mentees have started coming up with their challenges and others contributing to the solutions.
- I have encouraged my mentees to take part in conferences. Hoping a good response.
- Four of my mentees have started ‘Peer Observations’. They are glad about it.
- I have been able to extend support to those who had raised some challenges.
- Mentoring has encouraged strengthening professional network where we discuss potential issues related to classroom teaching.
Some snapshots during lesson observation:
Some of the challenges I am facing:
- There are a couple or more of my mentees who are well experienced. I find it challenging to convince them the importance of writing lesson plans and make a shift from traditional teaching methods to learner centered class. Despite some encouraging talks I barely notice changes in them.
- A few schools are farther than 8 kms and interior part of our Taluka, Omerga. Hence it takes a good deal of time reach there and spare time for pre-observation talk and post observation talk.
- I find it difficult to schedule the observations as I am not relieved by my HM for the same.
- I haven’t been able to frame Action Plans effectively.
Some of the possible solutions I see for the above challenges:
With technology, it has become a lot easier to communicate. All the mentors are contributing their valuable views on WhatsApp and Facebook group. I found that the above challenges are more or less similar to every other mentor across the state. Yet, every mentor is trying their best to resolve issues. Following are some of the solutions in common:
- Mentees with more experience should be offered to observe mentor’s lessons first. This would probably give them live experience of make them realise the potential of activity based learning over period.
- Long distance mentees can be offered with peer observations from their colleagues of same subjects and record their observations.
- Regarding HM relieving, I guess the government should direct the school management to frame a time-table keeping 5 hours aside well in advance, preferably before commencing the new academic year.
- I need to learn to frame Action Plans effectively and share them with other mentors to get it checked if it is okay or need change.
It’s a great experience. I feel fortunate to be a part of this wonderful pilot project. Kudos to Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and British Council.
Following is a pic compiled video of menroting project held at YASHADA, Pune