Coordination, Innovation, Celebration

In Pursuit of 'International School Award' !

I had been sparing my time (apart from daily work and home schedule) to write this blog since 15th Feb 2014. So, to get focused on other priorities, the blog was intentionally concluded on 11th March 2014. 


April 2013 was the month that started with some awesome communications with the teachers from India and Sri Lanka. I was aware that those teachers got my email address through the British Council and they needed to work with our school to complete number of successful collaborative projects that enhances global education within their existing curricular framework. I promised them to be part of such projects and acknowledged that they were part of British Council - International School Award (ISA).

Later that month, British Council - Nepal also called applications for Nepalese schools (who are doing global exchanges) for International School Award. In May 2013, I applied on behalf of the school where I work and got selected for this competition in June 2013. Selected schools had to attend ISA Orientation workshop in Kathmandu. Till that date, our school (school board of management) was not 'that aware' about what I had been doing at the school since 2010. Our school's primary section was linked just with a school in the UK. The workshop guided the selected '21 schools' for achieving ISA and set some criteria for it. What I liked the most was - the competition was not among selected 21 schools but was against the challenges that would come across while planning, implementing and reviewing the ISA projects. We got opportunity to visit a school who won ISA in 2013.

An art project with a school in India:
a successful example of a teacher's enthusiasm in ISA 
We had to complete 8 mandatory projects and I planned 10 projects along with duscussion with ECA (Extra Curricular Activities) coordinator, who was much busy and I needed more from him. I planned just with him because other teachers were 'almost not familiar' to 'global education'. Hence, the school formally delegated extra responsibility for me as ISA Coordinator with no extra allowance. I was not in comfortable position to take the extra role but I had to, and I did. Other teachers slowly began to show interest to 'ISA Projects' that made me more enthusiastic. School asked other teachers to get involved in ISA projects from their efforts and almost all of them seemed supportive. The planned projects would have three basic dimensions and some other essential criteria: collaboration, curriculum, international partners (3 basic dimensions), wider school-parents-community involvement, use of ICT, online teacher development training, recognition from local educational authority, online projects, institutional school-community school partnership, local curriculum and more (essential criteria). Since then, we have been in the ISA journey and I have some experiences that is almost very necessary to share !

Partnership between
Community School and Private (Institutional) School

 - My School and a State Funded School playing volleyball
1) Being teacher in Institutional School vs. Community School in Nepal: Teachers in institutional schools are said to be 'underpaid' as somebody compares the salary of them with that enjoyed by the teachers in community schools (state funded schools). Being teacher in community school, one has to be 'political' right from recruitment till 'sustaining job'. I came across many types of such sayings during series of workshops and almost all of them were much supportive to each other. I had been wishing corrections in bad cases of teachers' concerns at both types of schools.

2) Schools in Kathmandu and Pokhara vs. Schools in other parts of the country: Schools in Kathmandu, Pokhara, other major cities enjoyed internet (Pokhara schools would ask overseas tourists visit their schools and ask to put international dimensions in their in-country projects) and did not need to worry in completing online projects. Schools in other parts of the country lacked competent resources for ISA coordinators and teachers involved.

3) Female participation: Almost 95 per cent of the ISA Coordinators from the selected Nepalese schools were male. Even in those schools where ISA projects had been launched, female teachers were (informally) reported to be passive stakeholders. This situation was opposite in case of schools from the UK, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon and other countries who came across us. I am not sure about the gorund cause for this. However, it could be very urgent that Nepalese female professional teachers should be more empowered.

4) Working in a big school with additional responsibility: The school where I teach has more than 1100 pupils till grade 10. I have to teach regular classes (in higher grades) and coordinate the ISA activities. So, I should run across the neighborhood where several buildings of the school are located. It was very difficult task to involve all students of all classes in the projects which was not possible. I could not follow up regularly with the kids and teachers and I am seeing the problems. Students may forget the names of partner schools and names of the projects; however remember what they learned from the collaborative projects.
Some, teachers follow up by themselves and I found much difficult to make few teachers do the projects with the kids and follow up. However, I keep on saying 'If you work on this, it will open doors to more opportunities for you'. And it is being proved, because our school's management board regularly asks me names of the active teachers for CPD (continuous professional development) opportunities of the teachers. Gradually the scene is changing; according to my experience, they have been rethinking on embedding global dimension in their teaching learning activities.

5) Intercultural learning?: More recently, some teachers from our school and our UK-partner school got opportunity to visit each other's school and do/plan some intercultural projects. We had heard that some schools in the UK prioritise intercultural learning in their school curricula. But, our expectations are yet to be met from our partner school.

We have now learned that projects should be democratically decided so that both schools  take ownership to the projects; and after all, pupils will be benefited and they will become global citizens as expected.

If a teacher shows evidence of what their students learned from their partner school,  then the partner school will be much encouraged to keep the link on regardless of the visit funds.They will even be able to deal with constraints like lack of ICT facility.

These school link psychologies should be well understood.

6) Leadership: My philosophy: a gatekeeper and his boss are equal leaders. Of course they have differences in duties, academic qualifications, salaries, knowledge, skills, positions and others. However, they should respect each other. If the boss puts hand forward for hand shake, he won't be stared at; I won't do so.

A true leader keeps record of achievements/initiatives by him/her and his/her staff. S/he applauds and encourages others by mentioning the example.

Teachers should believe in joint leadership, regardless the grades that s/he teaches. If they have to learn and develop their competence, they should have such attitude. They learn from each other and help each other in their professions.

Too many feedback forms were printed;
these are few among those.
7) Resource Consuming: The ISA project was not that much resource consuming because we had planned the projects to be completed at low cost and if possible at no cost. However, the feedback forms to be printed was too much for me. I just don't want to print more and more papers.

8) Concluding the blog ... : I must conclude this blog and begin to share the feedback forms with the link schools (international and in-country). I should also collect evidences for the dossier to be submitted to the British Council for evaluation of the projects. And of course, keep ISA Board in each school buildings to help children recall the ISA projects (activities, partner school's names, project titles and more) to overcome the problems mentioned earlier.

PS: As an web reference for enthusiastic followers of this blog, I have shared here with the external links so that the readers can implement such initiatives of global learning in their classes and schools.

1) Eco Club Garage Sale (http://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/project-section/eco-club-garage-sale-successfully-done)

>> Project 'Waste not Waste' of St. Anthony's Girls' College: We linked our two projects with this: a) Eco Club Garage Sale b) Pre Voc: Paper Work and Reuse Work.

2) Reusing Papers to Create Paper Board

3) Let us not waste PET bottles !

4) Fun with Native Games (game played upon request of other schools)

5) Our Schools : a project

6) School WASH Collaboration: a sanitation project

7) I am learning about your country! : not so successful project

8) Reporting 'Magic of Colours of the World' - an early school project on art (Nepal and India)

9) Final Multimedia: Sri Sri Academy's children learning colour names in 'Nepali'

10) School Measurement Collaboration : measuring rainfall in partner schools and  Blog from Partner Teacher on this Project

11) Soil Sustainability and Economy : collaboration with Indian School

12) Saving Food Project, Paper And Reuse/Recycle Work (and visits) with UK's school

13) Blog Writing Competition on 'Rights and Responsibilities of a Student' : a very successful project

14) Friendly volleyball match with in-country school and presentations : a much successful project

--
Dipesh Dulal
ISA Coordinator
Chelsea International Academy
Kathmandu, Nepal
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