Monday, 30th October 2017

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Tales for teachers

Stories to make classes fun

By Chandreyee Ghose in Calcutta
  • Published 12.11.19, 2:24 AM
  • Updated 12.11.19, 2:24 AM
  • 2 mins read
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(From left) Jumaini Arif from Singapore, Seema Sapru, the principal of The Heritage School, Priyanka Chatterjee from Calcutta, Roger Jenkins from Singapore, Seema Wahi Mukherjee from Delhi and Nupur Aggarwal from Hyderabad after the workshop. Picture by B. Halder

Stories were told and enacted before a roomful of teachers at a city school on Saturday to encourage them to incorporate storytelling as a teaching tool.

There was humming, hand gestures and happy reactions from the junior and senior teachers at The Heritage School as the story progressed. The first story left the audience asking for more and the hour-long session ended with the teachers happily performing along with the storytellers.

The first edition of Kolkata International Storytelling Festival saw seven storytellers from India, Singapore and Italy perform at different venues from November 8 to 10.

Two storytellers — Seema Wahi Mukherjee from Delhi and Priyanka Chatterjee from Calcutta —conducted the storytelling session at The Heritage School.

It began with some simple loosening-up exercises that got the teachers singing a “happy song”.

Two more stories followed — one about justice and friendship and the other about teamwork — and the teachers were told how they could weave tales into their lesson plan.

“Lessons can be built around any story. Just build your content keeping the target audience in mind,” Chatterjee said.

Teachers were advised to weave morals or lessons into stories, instead of telling them directly, and leave it to students to interpret.

“Stories are a good way of loosening up both adults and children. I am thinking of including them in my classes in future. That will create an instant interest and help me teach English grammar and history,” said Chandrima Datta, who teaches English and social studies in classes V and VII.

Impromptu performances taught teachers the right body language in a classroom. “Leaning forward is intimidating,” Chatterjee said, as she imitated a sneering demon.

Wahi Mukherjee’s tale was meant to teach adults and students how to stand up for their rights, even as consumers. “Ensure cross-learning in the classroom through the stories,” she said as she taught teachers how to relax with breathing exercises.

Ankita Sen, a maths teacher in junior school, was eager to introduce stories in the maths lab.“Stories improve retention power. I may start telling stories in between lessons for greater effect,” she said.

The last story of the workshop tested the retention power of the teachers as they were asked to remember and repeat a chorus.

“We have always stressed on storytelling as a tool for classroom teaching. It is very effective. I am glad that this workshop gave teachers many more ideas for more engaging classroom sessions,” said principal Seema Sapru at the end of the event.