Notes from a writing workshop with teachers in Hyderabad

This poster at Sanghamitra School in Hyderabad caught my eye as I was walking out after facilitating a day-long writing workshop on April 15 with 70 teachers who work across grades from kindergarten to grade 10.

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We focused on writing for creative self-expression, writing to build a reflective teaching practice, and writing for constructive feedback on student work. We listened to spoken word poetry, watched a short film, discussed an advertisement, had a Q & A about my visits to Pakistan as an educator participating in academic and cultural exchanges, and worked on various kinds of writing activities.

The two writing prompts that elicited the most diverse, engaging and memorable responses were these: ‘What have you learnt from your students during your career as a teacher?’ and ‘What would your life be like if you were not a teacher?’

It was so beautiful to hear teachers talk about the things their students have taught them, and the dreams they gave up when they became teachers. One wanted to be a solider. Another wanted to be an air hostess. A third wanted to be a therapist.

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Of course, this conversation brought us to a place where we began talking about how patriarchal families limit women’s access to opportunities outside the home, and teaching is regarded as a safe option because it is assumed to be an extension of mothering. I love modelling how one can sneakily bring in conversations about gender, peace and human rights with any kind of curriculum. I hope the teachers picked up these embedding tactics, and will use them in their own classrooms.

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