TRC’s 1st Annual Teachers’ Conference
On 18th March 2017 TRC hosted a one-day ‘Thinking Classroom and Critical Thinking: Reshaping Educational Prospects’ academic conference at the Karachi School of Business and Leadership. Over 500 teachers attended the 8 sessions. The Keynote speakers at the conference were Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Asfandiar Khan, director of Global Partnership for Education in Balochistan and Nargis Sultana of the Open Society Foundation. Pop star Shahzad Roy, founder of the Zindagi Trust, which is working to improve the quality of education in the country, also attended the conference.
A critical thinking activity book and training video, which were created as part of TRC’s “Thinking Classroom” project, were launched at the conference. Public sector teachers attended morning session and private sector teachers attended evening sessions. The 4 informative and interactive sessions conducted in the morning were, “Creating Inclusive Classrooms” (Noshin Khan, Anum), “Creating Thinking Classrooms in Public Sector Schools” (Ambreena Ahmed and Farzana Kausar), “Action Research” (Rubina Naqvi and Saira Shahab), and “Media Literacy” (Tabinda Jabeen and Hammad Naqvi). Private school teachers attended the afternoon sessions, which were, “Creating Inclusive Classroom” (Noshin Khan, Ali Sayeddain), “Critical Thinking Through Art, Play and Story Telling” (Sheetal Suleman and Tabinda Jabeen), “Action Research” (Rubina Naqvi and Saira Shahab), and “Media Literacy” (Shahrezad Samiuddin and Hammad Naqvi).
TRC’s 2nd Annual Teachers’ Conference
On March 31s, 2018 over 500 teachers from Lahore and other towns in Punjab participated in TRC’s 2nd Annual Teachers’ Conference 2018. The theme of the conference was ‘Integrating Critical Thinking Skills into the Daily Teaching-Learning Processes’ and attracted both public and private sector teachers. Public sector teachers were invited to the morning sessions, while private sector teachers attended the afternoon sessions. The venue for the conference was FAST-NU (Lahore)
The participants attended 5 interactive and stimulating workshops that were conducted by TRC’s team. The sessions were:
Critical Thinking through Art and Storytelling
TRC’s trainers conducted this popular workshop that highlighted strategies to promote critical thinking in children through art and storytelling. Participants explored the concept of critical thinking and its underlying assumptions. They became aware of how a child’s thinking abilities developed naturally and how best these can be nurtured.
Living and Learning with Media: The Battle for Children’s Mind
In this workshop, TRC’s trainers explored how media literacy is an integral part of being literate in today’s world. They looked at ways to help students, parents and teachers become critical thinkers and mindful consumers of traditional and new media.
TRC’s trainer delved the participants into the importance of self-reflection and introspection in educators. Teachers learned to journal effectively and explore the impact of a teacher’s attitude on children’s minds.
Inclusive Practice in Pre-primary and Primary Classrooms
Trainers explored the concept of inclusive education which values diversity and appreciates the unique contributions each student makes to the classroom. This workshop laid the foundation for working with children who have different needs and developmental levels using the Universal Design (UDL) Framework for Learning.
Promoting Citizenship Education in Schools
In this workshop, the trainers focused on activities to promote citizenship by integrating them into the curriculum currently being taught in schools. Participants analysed and brainstormed the need to address issues such as environmental protection, human rights, and tolerance. They looked at ideas to integrate citizenship concepts and practices in the school curriculum.
TRC’s 3rd Annual Teachers’ Conference
TRC has been organising the teachers’ conference for the last two years under its Thinking Classroom Project – an initiative to promote inquiry-based learning and reflective thinking skills amongst teachers and students (of primary to middle levels) through curriculum and textbook based teaching-learning materials and capacity building programs.
In the fifth project year, the 3rd Annual Teachers’ Conference was organised on July 6, 2019, at Pearl Continental Hotel, Rawalpindi, in close collaboration with the Quaid-e-Azam Academy for Educational Development (QAED), Government of Punjab. This event was attended by an estimated 300 teachers from government schools from Rawalpindi and adjacent areas.
The purpose of the conference was to provide public sector teachers maximum opportunities to benefit from expert facilitators, speakers and panelists regarding critical and contemporary issues of education in general and pedagogy in particular.
The plenary session began with the recitation of the Holy Quran and the welcome note by Ms Ambreena Ahmed, Director, Teachers’ Resource Centre. Ms Rubina Naqvi, Senior Programme Manager Workshop/ Head ECED Programme, introduced the objectives of the conference and shared TRC’s services for teacher education for the past 33 years. Ms Tabinda Jabeen, member of the training and development team, gave an overview of The Thinking Classrooms Project.
The plenary session was attended by 17 honorable guests from different key organisations and government offices. The keynote speakers at the conference were; Mr Ahmed Khawar Shehzad, Additional Director General, QAED, Punjab, Ms Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Chief Executive Officer, PARWAN, Mr Jawad Amir Malik, Planning Officer – Planning Wing, QAED, Dr Shafqat Hussain, Regional Programme Manager, QAED, Mr Muhammad Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Islamabad, and Ms Nargis Sultana, Senior Education Programme Officer, Foundation Open Society Institute – Pakistan.
The keynote speakers acknowledged TRC’s services for teacher education. They also congratulated TRC for successfully arranging the third annual teachers’ conference.
The plenary session concluded with the presentation of shields/plaque to the esteemed guests including keynote speakers, government officials from Rawalpindi and QAED, Punjab, and representatives of civil society. After the end of plenary session, there was a lunch break followed by six concurrent sessions on: Critical Thinking through Art and Storytelling, Media Literacy, Teachers as Reflective Practitioners, Promoting Citizenship Education in Schools, Empowering Teachers through 21st Century Skills, and Inquiry-Based Learning. All teachers were given a certificate of participation at the end of the six sessions.
All workshops were conducted by TRC master trainers. There was a pictorial representation display, interesting stories and anecdotes, short videos, and interactive activities. All sessions were different from one another but had the critical thinking thread embedded in all making them part of a common series.
The interactive workshops provided an opportunity to learn different attributes of reflective thinking skills and how significant these skills are for modern times. Altogether, more than 300 teachers participated in the conference. The teachers’ participation and enthusiasm has reinforced the belief that more such conferences will be seen in the future with the same zeal.
TRC’s 1st Children’s Conference
TRC launched the first Children’s Conference on November 28, 2019, at Marriott Hotel Karachi. TRC took this great initiative based on its experiences from the teacher conference launch to establish a similar platform for children not only to allow them to share and learn about tools, skills and knowledge related to critical thinking but also to open up spaces for engagement, exposure and interaction amongst children from different government schools which currently is very limited in our country.
300-plus middle school children from different government schools across Karachi, along with their teachers, head teachers and districts education officers participated in this conference. The conference provided these children intellectually stimulating and entertaining avenues for creative expression, experience sharing and new and innovative learning tools.
The plenary session began with the recitation of the Holy Quran and the welcome note by Ms Ambreena Ahmed, Director, Teachers’ Resource Centre. Ms Ahmed extended her gratitude towards director schools, district education officers, head teachers, teachers and children for grace the event. Ms Nargis Sultana, Senior Education Programme Officer, Foundation Open Society Institute – Pakistan appreciated TRC’s effort to provide an empowering platform to government school students for learning about and sharing innovative, exciting and creative ideas, skills and tools of critical thinking.
Ms Rubina Naqvi, Senior Programme Manager Workshop/ Head ECED Program, formally introduced the conference. Mrs Naqvi, in her motivational tone, encouraged the students to participate enthusiastically in conference activities.
The plenary session followed by a very exciting performance by Zambeel Dramatic Reading, ‘Tipu aur Jaadu ki Bayl ‘a lively tale about Tipu’s adventures up the magical beanstalk to the secret world of a terrifying giant. This engaging performance was supported by live music and captivating tunes. After the performance, along with their teachers, students were dispersed into breakout rooms to participate in six concurrent sessions on: What is Critical Thinking? Critical Thinking through Art, Learning through Stories, Learning through Films, What is Digital Citizenship and How Can We Become More Responsible Online Consumers and Learning Different Perspectives through Photography. These variety of educational sessions were conducted by the TRC team that designed all activities carefully to promote critical thinking skills through a mix of mediums. Students participated enthusiastically in these sessions. They shared their observations, discussed their creative ideas not only with their peers but with their teachers, workshop facilitators, education officers and other adults present. All children were given certificates of participation.
At the end of the event, the floor was open for students to come forward and share their learning at the conference. It was very heartening to see how confidently students expressed their emotions and thoughts. They were very grateful to TRC for organising such an event where they had innovative learning experiences.