LRTT Fellowship — South India July 2017

As I sit here writing my first ever blog, in my condo paid for by the International School I work for, on the laptop provided for me by the same school, I am beginning to reflect on the stark differences I am going to face when volunteering this summer at some of the poorest schools in Southern India. For the past three years, I have been working at an expensive, well-resourced International School in Bangkok. I am lucky to be very secure financially and make the very most of the travel opportunities in South East Asia with the quantity of school holidays available to me.

I have come to a point in my life, however, where I feel as though I need to give something back. Rather than continuously visiting places, being an observer, being passive, I feel I ought to attempt to share some of my experiences I have been fortunate enough to have during my career. I have been inspired, in part, by my incredible brother who, after being made redundant in London, came to Thailand to complete a TEFL course and has subsequently moved to Athens to volunteer in a refugee camp. While contemplating his next move, he has applied for NGO work in Beirut and Jordan. I admire his choosing to put others less fortunate than him before his thinking about moving to an area of the world that is so politically volatile.

So my partner and I have decided to ditch our summer holiday of island hopping the stunning islands of Indonesia, for a volunteer fellowship in Southern India, training teachers. Through a charitable organisation called Limited Resource Teacher Training (LRTT), we have signed up to observe, train and coach teachers who work in schools with limited resources. The aim of the programme is to focus on improving teacher quality, securing a future where every child has a high quality education regardless of the context they are born into. Find out more about the British-based company here: lrtt.org

So, after paying the deposit and booking numerous flights, our journey has begun. I have now completed my first of three online learning modules which are getting me to reflect on my experiences and how I will be able to deliver professional development in a completely new setting. We were asked to comment on which segment of the diagram below best describes my view of professional development and why.

This was my response:

I find it hard to choose between each of the segments, as together, they all form an essential part of Professional Development. I do not believe that you can learn without studying and improving; equally you cannot improve without practising. Asking someone to develop themselves professionally by solely mentoring a colleague will not develop them (or their colleague) to their full potential; one needs to employ several of the ‘segments’ simultaneously for Professional Development to be worthwhile.

I find Professional Development to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I love to learn, which is probably why I chose to be an educator. I find myself constantly learning, studying, mentoring, practising and consulting. But to move forwards with my pedagogy and leadership within my school, reflection is key. I am constantly reflecting on my practise, both as a teacher and as a leader. It is one of the key skills I expect in my students learning behaviour as well.

I do wonder if my response is too indecisive, hesitant or fearful of making a mistake… If any other LRTT Fellows have completed this and are willing to share, please do and let me know how you answered this question!

We are also invited to be part of Facebook groups to share our ideas, ask questions and get motivated for the up-coming experience — it’s great to be able to communicate with others prior to arriving in Bangalore blind in just over 9 weeks time.

I am very much looking forward to meeting the other ‘Fellows’, as we’re called, and learning from a range of people who will have had different training to me.