3 Things Teachers Can Learn in Nepal
December 23, 2014
When teachers go abroad to work or volunteer in a foreign school, they should expect to learn as much as they teach. That’s why the “T” in TIEs stands for “Two-way”! Here are three teaching strategies we think U.S. educators can learn at the site of our current exchange project in Nepal:
Ask any U.S. teacher – one of the biggest challenges they face is getting kids to pay attention. Many U.S. schools are trying to implement “mindfulness” programs (i.e. meditation, breathing exercises) to address this, but in my experience, the teachers often don’t have the training/experience to do so effectively. Why not learn from the pros in Nepal? Our partner school has students at all ages doing meditation to come to class calm and ready to learn, and was founded by a Buddhist nun with decades of meditation experience!
2. Character Education
Informal character education happens in U.S. classrooms on a daily basis, like when we pull a kid aside to explain why we shouldn’t steal or how bullying makes people feel. But doing so interrupts the flow of a class. After all, no teacher includes “Pause 5 minutes to address hurtful words” when writing a lesson plan! Our partner school in Nepal takes a more pre-emptive approach: rather than simply addressing these behavior problems as they come up, they have a character education class built into their curriculum. And they have more of a “culture of kindness” and less bullying than any school I’ve ever experienced!
3. Bilingual Education (despite not being perfectly bilingual yourself!)
There is a high demand for bilingual education in U.S. schools, but not enough bilingual educators. What if teachers didn’t have to be perfectly fluent in a second language in order to implement at least some bilingual ed (particularly in early elementary)? The teachers at our Nepali partner school are English language learners themselves, but they don’t let that stop them from doing English language activities with their students. And the end result is fantastic: by high school, the students are conversing and doing upper-level academics like math and science in their 2nd language – English!
Our U.S. teacher participants aren’t obligated to run back to their own schools and immediately implement all of these strategies – the goal of TIEs is to introduce teachers to new approaches and open up discussion about which ones may be appropriate in the context of their home classrooms. TIEs would like to encourage teachers going abroad in any country to do so with the mindset of learning from the local educators. Consider it a type of professional development!
Learn more about our current project in Nepal!