The Training and Trainees!
Training!!! There are two inter-related ways of defining it. One – “What is training?” and the other – “What do you mean by training?” The answer to the first question is widely explored, rigorously developed with a broader coverage, so it is supposed to be authentic unless and until something related but a newer one is unearthed in the same way. And, the answer to the second question is self-centered, self-experienced and self-explained, so it may differ from person to person based on the individual insight. And, what is worth-emphasizing is that the second case has much higher practicality that directly affects the upshot of training which evaluates training itself. As a simple example, some training is given to some targeted group with a view to causing some expected change, but as a baffling surprise, the result may not be what may have been expected to happen – just opposite! Why so? Trainees’ perception may act as a pivot to rotate the training to the desired effect. The training might be of great importance and trainers might hold great expertise, yet the result may be poor. It is crystal clear that it is all because of how trainees mean training, i.e. the way of getting leave granted, enjoying some gossip and receiving some allowance – that’s it! But, it may not occur so in each case because the trainees’ perception may not remain the same all the time. Yes, I had the same experience in the second week of April.
It was on the 8th and 9th of April that US Embassy Regional English Language Office (RELO) and Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) jointly organized a two-day training for +2 English teachers in the premises of Birgunj Public College in Birgunj with the theme “English Language Enhancement for Teacher Professional Development”. It was facilitated by Ms. Jocelyn White, holding the outstanding 32-year experience of teaching in the United States and around the world, being engaged in the fields of international education systems and intercultural education environments and Dr. Meg E. Infiorati, a multifaceted personality, working as a facilitator of various seminars in organizational teamwork, disaster management, personality types, leadership styles, program management and conflict management, and as a teacher at several local colleges as well. It was a part of nearly one-month training schedule across the country. Luckily or unluckily, I was assigned to co-ordinate the program. I felt lucky because it was a good opportunity for me to grasp and learn a lot. But, on the other hand, I felt unlucky since it was the first time I had had such a responsibility and those who had already had the experience of co-ordination were not physically present for instant support and suggestion. Several times I asked myself what was going to come about. And I consoled myself recollecting someone saying whatever was to happen would turn fair at the cost of our ‘true attempts’, and brushed off all the anxieties. There is a wise saying: a problem appears with its solution following behind. So was the case in that regard. In spite of being away from Birgunj, Sajan Sir initiated the co-ordination by letting us know about the program and giving due guidance about what to do and how to. To be frank, I was reluctant to holding the program owing to mainly two factors: first, most of the executive members were so busy with their own jobs that it felt me quite odd and alone; second, it was time to publish the exam results at several schools so it was a big challenge to collect enough participants even from secondary and +2 levels, whereas the training was mainly focused on +2 level. Anyway, I must congratulate myself on receiving warm support from Kedar Sir, Praveen, Kamalesh, Jyoti and Preksha. We managed to have over thirty participants. It was in fact a good indication of positive attitude towards such training of professional enhancement. Enthusiastic participants from Rautahat, Bara and Parsa turned up to mark the training with a good success.
In the inaugural session on the first day of the program presided by Mr. Kedar Prasad Sah, Chair of NELTA, Birgunj, as our token of love and honor, we offered ‘Gamchha’, the invaluable cultural recognition of Tarai dwellers, to the Chief Guest Mr. Yugalkishor Prasad Sah, Academic Director of Birgunj Public College, the Guest of Honor, trainer duo, Ms. Jocelyn White and Dr. Meg E. Infiorati, and the Distinguished Guest Mrs Shobha Benargee, retired Reader of English of TU. And, the session was closed with the vote of thanks by Mr. Prveen Kumar Yadav, executive member of NELTA, Birgunj.
The first-day sessions included reading, personality types and graphic organizers. I understood reading as something interactive to gain energy that fuels the continuity of our action. Reading doesn’t mean merely reading some written stuff, but also trying to decipher some drawings and some facial expressions in different situations. So it refers to reading something else. Introverts are supposed to energize themselves by means of their thoughts that they gain by reading different matters, whereas extroverts gain energy from the environment, i.e. by ‘reading’ the surroundings. ‘If so, are you an introvert or extrovert?’ The question may really put anyone into a dilemma. But, what about the answer ‘Both’? One may explain ‘When I am alone in my room I am an introvert, and when I am in a gathering, I am an extrovert!’ Such a clever answer had no space there when we took a test to chalk out what personality type we had. There were sixteen types of personality based on eight factors: E – Extraversion, I – Introversion, S – Sensing Perception, N – Intuitive Perception, T – Thinking Judgment, F – Feeling Judgment, J – Judging and P – Perceiving. It helped us to find out what type of personality we have. I was interestingly useful to judge ourselves psychologically and act and improve ourselves accordingly. The next one – graphic organizers – was focused on the way we may explain what we perceive through reading. It was indeed implemental in our teaching field. It was all about how we make a graphical presentation of what we have read and understood. Selecting several chapters from the books “The Magic of Words” and “The Heritage of Words” and offering different graphic organizers namely Web, Tree, Flowchart, Fishbone Map and Venn Diagram, the participants in different groups were made to select the organizer that might suit the particular chapter chosen and to simplify the complex information into different small easy-to-understand bits of information. It laid emphasis on the various ways of learning learners may adopt according to their different perspectives. It was of course of great use for teachers to conduct a big class by dividing the students into different groups, engaging them in interaction on certain reading, and reflecting their understanding logically.
On the second and last day, the program was to begin at 8:30 A.M. Although it was delayed by about one hour, almost all the participants attended it with good spirit. From teaching view-point, many more found the session effective. It was all about the different levels of knowledge in Bloom’s Taxonomy: Remember Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create, arranged from the basic level to the advanced one. They were explained how to apply to form right questions from easy ones for the students’ comprehension to challenging ones for their analysis and creativity. Each pair of participants selected a new topic, read it, made several related questions according to the levels of knowledge and arranged main pieces of information on cardboard paper using a suitable graphic organizer. All observed each other’s and interacted how clear and consistent the presentations were. It gave lots of space for us to put our logics, dispel doubts and mark the shifts in understanding having discussions with each other and with the trainers directly. Since we had to wrap up the program by 1 pm or so, we had to shorten it; yet we could grasp the gist of each and every presentation. Had we had more time, we could have enjoyed broader workshop practice. The facilitators-cum-trainers were so amicable and conscious about our moves and inclination to the learning. Personally, Meg asked me how long we could run the program. Had we been allowed to hold the program two weeks later, each of us would have had enough time to enjoy the training in its full length with much better arrangement and Meg and Jocelyn would have been much happier by benefiting us much more. But, sorrowfully, they were scheduled to fly back to the capital so we could not make any instant decision to extend the program. Anyway, it was so wonderful, fascinating enough for the participants to realize the genuine aspect of the workshop training.
One thing that has been sensed noteworthy is that the concept of training among young energetic people seems to have had its own impression. They seem to have understood the value of such trainings and seminars. Previously there were some bitter experiences of trainings and their implications. They were the sources of income and opportunities to have leaves granted. So the outcomes of such trainings used to have several shortcomings. But, nowadays, especially young teachers or would-be teachers are getting ahead to spend money willingly in participating in trainings, since I am optimistic that they are now more serious about their professional step-up through all-around talent. They seem to have realized that degrees and jobs might be secured but the talent is something they must hunt rigorously. I can’t help thanking them for the rise in their perception, those dedicated trainers-cum-facilitators-mentors, and all the contributors!
Could I hope for the same helpful hands from you all on the pedagogical journey ahead?
Thank you all so much!