CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAM FOR GOVERNMENT HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHERS
As part of the government funded mandatory Capacity Building program for Government High School Science Teachers, conducted at the Vedaranyam S K Higher Secondary School for Boys, I had conducted a session on Inclusive Teaching Methods, with Demonstration on Teaching Reproductive System and Sex Education, on the 26th of August, 2015.
The session was attended by 33 female and 32 male science (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) teachers from 54 high schools in the Vedaranyam block. The coordinator for this program, Mr. S. Vaidyanathan, Head Master of Kadinalvayal School, where I have already conducted an awareness camp for the school children, said that it was based on the recommendation of his students and the teacher who attended my session and felt that it was really beneficial, that he was interested in calling me as a resource person for this event.
I was told that I should not be preachy, nor patronizing, but provide facts that would be really useful for the teachers in aiding their students.
I reached on the said time, and actually panicked at the sight of a big room full of teachers, way elder to me. The organisers welcomed me warmly. It put me at some ease. However, most of the teachers were looking quite perplexed; they did not expect a young female resource person to come and talk about reproduction and sex education.
The moment our reproductive system is in question, really few people can even pretend to be normal. I could see that few people were ready to meet my eyes; most women were just too shy. Even here, ice-breakers were necessary; they shattered my belief that adults might fake being normal. I started with few quotes and local incidents so that they would relate with me easily.
My talk had 3 topics:
(i) Education – Teaching and Learning Aspects, How teachers can inspire themselves and the students
(ii) Pedagogy Models across the world, How to incorporate these aspects within the limited resources for an effective learning, How this is being done for Reproductive System – methods used and impacts expected
(iii) Session on Female Reproductive System, Health and Hygiene
The first two topics were completed before the break. In the break, there was a very huge level of appreciation and acceptance for the session completed. Post break, the third topic was addressed. It was started with an entertaining video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiIxkOah09E) on the Reproductive and Health Education scenario in India. This video was not only funny, but also, it touched them all at a deeper level. There was a huge acceptance for this. It also helped me move into the topic smoothly. It also made them confident to speak up and also questioned why they were doing what they were doing.
Soon, I went into the details of the reproductive system, and how it could be told in relation to daily life facts and events. The whole session lasted for 3 hours, and towards the end it was truly an interactive session. I was very much appreciated by a really old teacher in front of everyone, and it meant lot to me. She has also initiated a proposal tot take this forward in this district.
Once the session was over, the staff had come to me for discussion in small groups. It went for over an hour. Both the male and female staff was open to discussions. Female staff was more interactive during this period. One major outcome from this session, as I see it was the request put forth by the female staff: They asked if they could get the reusable, cloth napkins for the school students, instead of the currently freely provided disposable ones (every person who has used it says that it is of really poor quality). They even said that they could provide all their support for the same. I also feel that if we could initiate more work, even as a prototype in this direction, it will be really effective. I am looking for all kind of support for this to actually happen.
The overall feedback was really positive. I am really happy to have been able to contribute in this way, especially because addressing teachers has a very large reach. Also, I feel this will help to take ahead my project sustainably in future.