Daya Dhakal Subedi, Schoolteacher from Chitwan

 I have been working as a teacher in Government schools for the last 13 years. As a part of Teachers’ Professional Development (TPD), I have taken many five to ten days trainings in the past. I have been involved in the Teacher Activity Groups (TAG) since it was launched in my district- Chitwan in December 2018. TAG made me understand that even smaller changes in the classroom can led to a bigger learning outcome for children. I have been in this field for 13 years and we feel that we know it all, but sessions like these give us a reality check and a realization of the importance and the need of continuous learning in the teaching profession. I feel, I am growing professionally after I started attending the TAG sessions.

I work six days a week, but TAG helps me to learn new things, so I don’t mind giving away my weekend to improve my teaching skills.

From today’s session I am taking away three new things; firstly, proper rules and regulations for teachers and students in the classroom to be followed by all. Secondly, creating an environment before introducing a new topic or subject. And thirdly, listening to the students and blending in their requests with the lesson of the day and encouraging a space for creative learning. For instance, studying words through word game and spelling contest in which students are divided between a peer group where one asks and other answers. Creative ways of learning enhance the learning of a child.

The action plan that we take after the TAG session are very useful. If not successful in implementing, I point out the issue and present it in the next TAG session. I prefer TAG session over intensive five to ten days of training because it is easier for on the job implementation and revision. Monthly session helps me to prepare, practice and consult on regular basis which helps me to keep the learning outlook “fresh” in my mind.

What is TAG?
TAGs are peer-led support groups which teachers can join as part of their professional development. They have been established in British Council projects in India, Jordan, Palestine and now in Nepal. In English and Education projects, TAGs often focus on teachers helping each other practice their English skills and sharing new teaching ideas and techniques. TAG encourages teachers to take responsibility for their own learning, connecting it directly to the issues they face in the classroom. TAG facilitators, who is also a teacher from the same area, trained by the British Council, do not take the lead in a training role, but enable focused discussion, sharing of experience and collaborative learning.

How did it start in Nepal?
The learning and observation during the study tour in India helped the project team to convince the Nepal Government to set up TAG as a part of the Teachers Professional Development (TPD) programme for government teachers.
In September 2018 three English language teachers and four Nepal government officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) from Nepal observed the ‘Technology enabled education through joint action and strategic initiatives’ project (TEJAS) project in India, which is a joint initiative between the British Council, Government of Maharashtra and Tata Trusts of India. Apart from other interactions the delegates participated in a live training session for Teacher Activity Group coordinators and Teacher Activity Group. After they come back from the study tour, British Council carried out a three-day Training of Trainer (TOT) to the trainers including the TAG coordinators. In addition to the study tour, the TOT helped them to build their confidence in planning, organizing and facilitating the Teacher Activity Groups.

Where does TAG fits in the English Language Teacher Education Project (ELTEP) which is being implemented jointly with the government of Nepal?
EL-TEP is a two-year pilot project implemented by the National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) teachers’ development unit under MoEST and the British Council in Nepal. The project focuses on developing both content and pedagogical knowledge of English language teachers from government schools teaching grades 6-8. Apart from the 45 hours face to face training, TAG targets to give continuous support on a monthly basis for self-development for the teachers where the project is being implemented.