The month of March and April 2019 was indeed a very happening period at the Pre-primary programs of English and Marathi (regional language) medium sections of Saraswati Mandir Trust, Thane, India. Teachers were seen spending hours together reading reference books, surfing the internet, spending long hours discussing and sharing thoughts, running to the nature spaces, ordering stationery and art material. It was all for the specially designed Training program for them. It was for the ‘Treasure Trunk’ project. All the teachers (together 30 in number) were divided into six groups and were told to prepare their own treasure of learning resources that would be used for the development of age group 2 to 6 years.
This was to be exhibited on 18th April in six different rooms. A small motivational contest was announced for ‘Specially Attractive Trunk’. As a part of the Professional Development Program, this project gave challenging opportunities for the teachers to think ‘out of the box’. Teachers had taken immense efforts to study and research all possible developmental activities and resources for the young age group. All these included language development activities through listening, speaking, enhancing their pre-reading , pre-writing and literacy skills, logical-mathematical development like understanding various pre-number concepts, fractions, measurements etc, enhancing their knowledge about their surroundings, environment, science experiments and experiences, art experiences, musical experiences, social, emotional, and sensory development, physical and cognitive development and Free Play. For this, they used all types of material available from nature as well as raw material from other sources. Teachers had meticulously worked upon the gradations of these materials taking into consideration the developmental stages of children according to days, months and years.
This exhibition was judged by two eminent personalities Mrs. Aditi Natu and Mrs. Shobha Bharat who have vast experience in the field of ECE. This was also kept open for the teachers, center directors, principals and trainees from different schools within the city and neighboring suburbs and even to the parents. There was an overwhelming response from the visitors about how this project has inspired them and enriched their knowledge. Everyone expressed in the feedback book that they are really taking back a ‘Treasure trunk’ and they really hoped that such type of professional development opportunities open new thoughtful avenues for early childhood teachers.
Below is the feedback shared by the teachers about what this project has given them—
“We teachers started thinking in all directions as each concept was to be taken for all levels of the mentioned age group. It made us explore our talents and think out of the box. The ‘Peti’ that is the trunk, of both the mediums included ideas which would help children for their holistic development.”
“The Existential attitude is one of involvement in contrast to merely theoretical or detached attitude. Existential in this sense can be defined as participating in a situation, with the whole of one’s existence. This whole process of developing activities was based on our existential knowledge without any body’s guidance or direction. Here the whole brainstorming and learning happened. For us teachers this was a very unique way of professional development we have ever seen till now. Even it has helped the higher authorities to understand the teaching staff in a much better way. Most importantly we teachers realized the importance of ‘constructive learning’ as compared to ‘classroom teaching’. On the whole, this was a wonderful learning experience of existential knowledge-based training.”