Update on Global Pathways School in India – 15th September, 2010
Having enjoyed a great Canadian summer catching up with family and friends, we are turning our minds once more to returning to India on September 24th. When we are not ‘in residence’ at Global Pathways School our teachers send us regular reports on the progress in the classroom. Thanks to Justin Medved, a teacher at the The York School, setting us up with Google documents, this has been made simpler and easier and we can respond quickly giving advice and support to all four classrooms. In our absence, our teachers work hard and very creatively to continue to deliver the curriculum we are developing, which is based on the IB Primary Years Programme. During our teacher training programme in May, we worked with the teachers to develop units of inquiry for each class. When Barb Prevedello came in late June, she worked energetically and enthusiastically with the teachers, using an LCD projector, to introduce websites that would relate to the units and other subjects being taught in the classroom. In spite of difficulties with Internet accessibility and electricity power outs, the teachers persevered and are now using these websites on a regular basis. It has been a revelation to see how these teachers approach this inquiry based teaching/learning with the same level of curiosity and excitement as the students. It really is “a community of learners” as this is a new approach to learning for the teachers also. We want to share some of the recent activities that have happened as a result of this learning.
The Lower Kindergarten Class (3-4 year olds) have been doing a unit on transportation and their teachers took them on a field trip to the nearby railway station. This was a resounding success and here is the teachers’ report.
About Our Field Trip
We planned to take the children on a field trip to Podanur railway station on Wednesday, but the van came on Tuesday so we took the children to the station. When we reached the station, a train was standing in the platform. The children were excited and happy to see the train. They started to wave their hands to the passengers inside. Suddenly, we decided to take the children in the train to Coimbatore Junction and return in the same train. So, we enquired about the train timing and bought the tickets. While waiting for the train to arrive, we saw many express trains passing by and two goods trains that were standing in the platform. The children said that the goods train was punctured, that’s why the train is standing still, that there were no windows for the goods train and the train had many wheels. For the express train, the children said that the train is moving on its own. We took the children to the Station Master’s room and he showed them the signal panel and how it works, then they thanked the station master. After that, we met the guard, he gave the flags to the children and explained to them that they use the flag during day; at night they use the torch light instead of flags. Then we took them to the waiting room and waited for the next train to arrive. When one of the trains was passing, the children waved their hands and at that time one of the passengers inside the train took a photo. The passengers who were waiting on the platform were smiling and asked our children, “Which school are you from? Where is your school? Where are you going?” The children answered all the questions. The train arrived at 1:00 p.m. and we got places to sit. When the train started to move, the children began to sing rhymes and enjoy the scenery outside. All the passengers in the compartment were smiling. When we reached Coimbatore Junction we gave biscuits and juice to them. While waiting for the return journey to Podanur, they saw the vendors moving on the platform and selling food and the children said to them “don’t want, don’t want”. One of the workers on the platform bought chocolates and gave them to our children. The train started and we returned to Podanur Junction and came back to school. The children went home and told their parents about the trip.
Our Standard 2 class have been inquiring into waste management and, as an action component, decided to organize a rally to inform and raise awareness in the village. With the help of a local recycling organization a rally was planned which expanded to include the two government schools, the local village president and council and Jacob’s Home for the Aged. Banners were carried, large rosettes were worn and messages delivered through loud speakers. The rally was declared a great success and a system of recycling bins has been set up at the school. Below is the handbill created in English and Tamil by Yuvaraj, our IT support helper.
Global Pathways School was fortunate to receive a generous donation towards the new prefab classroom, from the KSB company based in Pune. This is a connection through the husband of one of our board members, Mrs. Kamala Saha. A representative came to the school personally to hand over a cheque for 3.5 lakhs, approximately $8,000.00.
Mrs. Saha has been working very hard on behalf of GPS researching opportunities for training women from the village and settlements in trade skills.
The play structure, which the York School students built last March, has become a hub where parents and children gather. In addition, our PT Master started a sports programme on the adjoining field for 6 to 10 years olds. Thirty children are enrolled and soccer and cricket are played regularly on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Several of the teenagers in the settlements have voluntarily come forward to help with this programme. This is very encouraging as it shows a degree of pride and solidarity in the community.
During June and July we were fortunate to have a total of six volunteers of different backgrounds and ages. We were able to accommodate them in the house and in the two additional buildings that we now rent. The renovations included another western toilet and a very large shower room. Sunbeam has also added interior decorator to her list of jobs and shows a definite flare for colour and arrangement.
As well as Barb Prevedello, we had Molly Weaver, our psychologist friend from Toronto, who came and spent time observing children and reporting back to teachers. Chris Anderson came for two weeks from Norfolk, England (Barbara Galbraith’s great-nephew) and helped the PT Master at the school and also with the sports programme at the settlement. Chris enjoys all sports and has been playing on a rugby team at his college in England. Olivia Larkin (the daughter of a friend of Theresa’s) from Toronto spent time in the classroom, working with individual children, and the teachers found her a great help. Madhu Ramankutty, the niece of Satish, one of our board members, came from Potomac School in Washington, and was also helping in the classroom with commitment and enthusiasm. All of these young people enjoyed their stay, loved working with the children and found the experience very rewarding – our students were delighted to have these young people around.
Vaija Wagle, an experienced IB educator arrived on July 1st and spent time observing in the classroom before facilitating an excellent teacher workshop called Teaching for Understanding. Our teachers found this workshop stimulating and it enhanced what they knew from previous workshops and related to their teaching in the classroom. Vaija is originally from Mumbai, but has been teaching for many years at the Washington International School. WIS sponsored Vaija to come to Global Pathways School and we hope to have her back next year for another workshop. Vanessa Colabawalla, who is now a teacher, but previously worked at the York School, introduced us to Vaija
As we prepare to return on September 24th, we have some trepidation about what may be awaiting us. When we left ,our landlord’s uncle was progressing with his plan to build a house in the middle of our playing field. We are really looking forward to the day when we can acquire our own land and build.