Saturday, 7 April 2018


Teacher collaboration and professional learning communities are frequently associated with school improvement and educational excellence. Keeping that in mind Madam Kashmira from Navrachana School, Sama Gujarat and I have been working on our collaboration for the past six months and finally, our proposal for the collaborative project was awarded the Global Teacher Grant by IREX and The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State.

The aim of our project was to bring different perspectives into the teaching and learning practices in both our schools and districts. Hence, Madam Kashmira and I decided to travel to each other's countries to conduct workshops on developing 21st-century skills for both students and teachers. 

The project kick-started with my visit to Navarachana School in Sama Gujarat on 20th March 2018. I was given the traditional Indian welcome by the teachers and students by applying what known as 'tikka' on my forehead and adorning garlands around my neck. It was touching that I instantly felt at home. Madam Bijoya Bakshi who is the Director of the School gave a welcoming speech and it was followed by a row of brilliant performances by the students. 
Pictures were taken during the welcome assembly 

During the assembly, I was also entertained with some memorable performances. One of them was a Kuchipudi dance by one of the students, Sindhuja. 

Kuchipudi By Sindhuja of Navrachana School,Sama Gujarat. 

After the assembly, it was time for a short school tour. I was told that Navrachana has a strength of approximately 3000 students and 145 teachers. During the school tour, I met a number of teachers and also all the coordinators. I was impressed by their passion and enthusiasm towards educational excellence. Each and every teacher whom I met was filled with passion for teaching. The school tour was a learning experience. I definitely understood the reason for Navrachana being among the top 100 schools in India after talking to the teachers and coordinators. 

Teachers' Hard Work Creating a Board Game Library 

During the tour, I was taken to the board game library where a group of teachers innovated board games for various subjects. The board games were both interactive and mind-challenging. I was impressed with the fact that the teachers worked together and innovatively developed their in-house products. It is the first of its kind and also first in India! The team is headed by Madam Kashmira Jaiswal. Kudos to the entire team for making their board game library a success. 

On the next day, I had a half-day workshop with the students. 
These pictures were taken during the workshop with students. 
The workshop with students turned out to be very fruitful. Their positive attitude and engaging nature made the workshop meaningful. They were willing to try, share and accept new ideas. They were also very much interested in exploring new ideas shared during the workshop. I also had story-reading sessions in between the workshop where I shared some interesting Malaysian folktales. 

What I liked about the students there was they were eager to try and speak throughout the workshop which I don't normally see when I conduct workshops in Malaysia, we can't deny the fact that our Malaysian students are very passive or trained to be quiet especially when there is a visitor.

Just like my workshop with the students, the workshop with teachers turned out to be very rewarding as well. The teachers were fun to be with. I did not only share my ideas but learnt a lot from them too. They were given the opportunity to share their ideas so that I could understand what was happening in their ESL classrooms. 

Pictures were taken during the workshop for teachers in Sama District. 
I noticed that the teachers are all well informed about teaching methodologies and classroom strategies. I was told that they have to keep themselves abreast of all new strategies as teaching is their bread and butter, being lackadaisical will cost them their job as they are all teaching in private schools and the schools demand them to be the best. They can't afford to take teaching profession for granted. Being in private school they have to constantly perform and show good results, which is why I understand the students are performing well. The teachers there are constantly on their wheels!!!! 

My four days visit ended eventually and I returned to Mumbai and then to Malaysia, I have not only enriched myself with new knowledge but I also made a handful of good friends. It takes time for us to warm up to some people but instantly get connected with some and just like that there were some people in Vadodara whom I instantly 'clicked' with. 

Memorable Pictures 
These are some people whom I have spent less than 24 hours but we developed a great sense of camaraderie. Madam Krishnamah(1st row, 1st picture)  a fellow Tamilian whom I enjoyed talking in Tamil when I was there. Madam Kamna Gupta (1st row, 2nd picture)  who gave me the tastiest homemade samosa, Dr Jamila ( 3rd row, 1st picture)  the counsellor whom I spent only a few minutes but those few minutes are to be treasured lifelong. As for Madam Gita ( 1st row 3rd picture) and Madam Kashmira (2nd row, 2nd picture), I have known them for quite some time. Madam Gita brought her students to MGS for INTELAH in 2016 and Madam Kashmira is a fellow ILEPER whom I met in 2015. from being acquaintances we have become good friends. Last but not least Ms Nigma, (2nd row 2nd picture) a history teacher who turned out to be an excellent tour guide. She made me understand so many things about the ancient architecture of  Baroda which might have been some dilapidated buildings in my eyes without her explanation. I have to thank her for being my tour guide and helped me out with shopping too.....

My visit to Vadodara ended soon and I left for Mumbai and then Malaysia, but our project continued with Madam Kashmira's visit to MGS Malaysia. 

Welcome Assembly in MGS for Madam Kashmira 

Madam Kashmira Jaiswal is the Creative Director of Navrachana School, Sama. She is also the recipient of  Pearson ELT Teacher Award. She is a respective person in her school and community for her continuous outstanding contribution to both her school and society. It was a great honour to have had her in our school for a week. She was given a warm welcome during our morning assembly with a welcoming speech by Pn. Pushpinder the Head of English Panel and also our Principal Pn. Gan Lee Lee. Soon after the assembly Madam Kashmira was given a short school tour and soon it was time for her workshop with our students. 

Madam Kashmira's Workshop with Students 
Madam Kashmira's session with our students was rather mind-boggling. She conducted a workshop on developing critical and creative thinking skills and it turned out pretty well as students were seen actively participating in the tasks given to them. This was a welcoming workshop for students who were so used to academic-oriented seminars and workshops. Our students truly enjoyed the workshop. 

Madam Kashmira Conducting a Workshop for Teachers in Ipoh

The next two days Madam Kashmira conducted a workshop for about 52 teachers in Kinta Utara District. I was there throughout the workshop and I could see that Madam Kashmira's workshop had definitely brought in ideas from a different perspective. All that she shared are applicable in the Malaysian ESL teaching and learning context. I hope that teachers who had attended the workshop will disseminate the knowledge gained to colleagues in their respective schools. I am also grateful that the Kinta Utara District English Language Officers Ms.Shallyna and Pn.Zuhira have been my pillars of support in making the workshop a success. Not forgetting the State English Language Officer En.Faisal who has been instrumental in making the collaboration a success. 

I could see that during Madam Kashmira's visit to our school both Pn.Gan Lee Lee and Madam Kashmira had developed great camaraderie. Madam kashmira also warmed - up with the English teachers and soon became one of us. I was happy that we could show the same love that was given to me when I was in India.

In conclusion, our collaborative exchange project has definitely brought in new ideas and knowledge to both schools in India and Malaysia. There are so many things to learn from each other and one project is just not enough. I believe that this collaboration has opened more doors for networking as well as collaboration and the success of this project is just a beginning for more collaborative projects between Navarachana and MGS.

We are planning for pen - pal project for students from both schools. Hopefully, it will work out well.

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