A Joyful “Gift of Education” Workshop
In early February, we had a unique opportunity to share our approach with English teachers from Myanmar who work with a program called Gift of Education. We designed a session focused on engaging learners in an online setting, showing how activities can still be interactive, fun, and community-building when the class is remote, a difficult and ever-present reality for this group of educators. Longtime Inspired Teacher and friend Susan Coti is the Executive Director of Gift of Education and when she shared with us the challenges her teachers were facing we saw an opportunity to help.
“Gift of Education began as a teacher training program working primarily with teachers in small village schools including monasteries and nunneries,” Susan explained. “After the pandemic, we took our classes online, trying our best to adapt to this new way of teaching and learning. Following the military coup in February 2021, we shifted our focus to the country’s children who were unable to attend school due to safety concerns. We hired some of our teacher graduates as teacher assistants.”
This constituted two shifts for the organization, teachers were no longer being trained to go work in person at schools, and students were no longer going to schools to learn. Susan told us about the learning curve involved for everyone and while her educators had a curriculum and materials to assist in their teaching they were struggling to recreate the kinds of learning experiences that came more easily in person. She was delighted to work with Inspired Teaching because, as she explained, “We needed some fresh ideas to keep online learning engaging.”
The session we provided included an introduction to warm-up activities that get students talking and moving and reflection activities that build vocabulary and involve drawing and art appreciation. Participants learned about the ABCDE of Learner Needs and thought about ways in which they could build community with their students even as they learn remotely.
Susan said, “Aleta and Jenna delivered an energetic, meaningful, and fun morning with activities that addressed the physical, intellectual, and emotional aspects of learning. We are so happy we were able to work and play with the outstanding Center for Inspired Teaching.”
The feeling is mutual! As teachers of this workshop, we were inspired by the ways in which these tools we’ve been exploring in the U.S. for years were useful and applicable to our colleagues on the other side of the globe.
Gift of Education is providing learning opportunities for children and their teachers that they cannot get anywhere else. They have adapted to ensure education continues despite the conflict in Myanmar. We invite you to check out their website to learn more about this important work and consider donating to help keep it going.