teachLAB – First edition

Participants of the first edition of teachLAB

Participants of the first edition of teachLAB

Empowerment Academy conducted the pilot version of TeachLAB in King’s College on February 15 – 17, 2019. 17 teachers and future-teachers from different institutions and levels together actively immersed in the 3-day program. The participating teachers were from King’s College, Mid-Valley International College, Karkhana, British College, Triyog School and Ace Higher Secondary School. A diverse set of teachers brought a repertoire of knowledge, perspective and experience enriching the quality of discussions and ideas.

During the 3-day program, they worked in teams to find solutions to the collective problems they face in their institutions. The problems were collected from them beforehand and themed. The themes they enthusiastically took a deep dive into were ‘Learning environment’, ‘Curriculum & Textbook’, ‘Students’ mindset’, ‘Skill and will of teachers’ and ‘Assessment’.

TeachLAB is not a competition. It is not about winning. The key objective of TeachLAB is to make teachers understand the process of solving problems effectively

The teachers went through the fun & engaging steps of problem identification, validation, solution generation, reflection and prototyping. In short, they went through a complete cycle of design thinking process seasoned by research-based approaches and methods based on Oamk LABs model, Finland. In-house resource persons Mr. Umes Shrestha, Mr. Udgum Khadka and Mr. Raunak Chaudhari facilitated the journey of the process participants went through. To assist them, coaches who had gone through the Oamk LABs approaches and coached previous workshops were also involved. The coaches were Mr. Rajesh Paneru, Mr. Susham Rajbhandari, Mr. Pravin Adhikari, Ms. Pratistha Rai and Mr. Angel Paudel.

Prof. Chip Bruce at teachLAB

Prof. Chip Bruce’s keynote on asking the right questions.

To guide the participants in the process further, experienced guides in the fields facilitated sessions in between. Mr. Bibhusan Bista (Co-Founder, Young Innovations) guided the teachers on understanding the problems. Mr. Chip Bruce (Prof. University of Illinois) conducted a short session on asking the right questions. Likewise, Mr. Sixit Bhatta (CEO, Tootle) facilitated a session on generating innovative solutions. And, finally, Mr. Ceasar Rana (Founder, AeroRoots) directed the teams in building prototypes of their solutions.

By the end of the program, after diligent efforts, the teams presented their solutions to the problems (identified by themselves from the users) amidst panel of esteemed judges. The solutions they presented in the form of the prototype were also validated from the potential users. The teams did the presentations in two rounds. The first round of presentation was of the real problems they captured from the users, after cross-checking teachers’ own assumptions. While the second presentation was of the solutions they came up with, again after validation from their users or beneficiaries.

The first set of judges’ panel comprised of Ms. Roshi Lamichhe (Lecturer, KUSOM), Mr. Ram Lamsal (Chairperson, Blooms School Nepal), Ms. Shina Shrestha (Recruitment Coordinator, Teach For Nepal)

The second panel of judges comprised of Mr. Medin Lamicchane (Principal, Ullens School), Dr. Dovan Rai (Founding Director, Panaa Collective), Ms. Kaushalya D. Khadka (Teacher, Rato Bangla School), Mr. Pavitra Gautam (Co-Founder, Karkhana).

Though the judges were invited, TeachLAB is not a competition. It is not about winning. The key objective of TeachLAB is to make teachers understand the process of solving problems effectively so that they can come up with novel solutions. Hence, the judge’s role was primarily to ask the right and tough questions to make teachers think further and deeper. The judges also provided valuable comments and suggestions only to enrich teachers’ learning process.

"Toli E" working at teachLAB

“Toli E” working at teachLAB

When equipped with the problem-solving process, we believe, teachers will be able to handle, if not resolve, multi-facet challenges they face every day. Problems they face are enormous. Many are out of their hands, many within their radar are also intricate. Therefore, it is paramount for teachers to build an entrepreneurial mindset. Like entrepreneurs, they also need to make their hands dirty to solve problems they come across in the classroom, school or colleges. Teachers also need to innovate their approaches, methods and system to catch up with the transformation young minds are going through and to cater the rapidly changing needs of students, parents and the society.

TeachLAB, designed & conducted by Empowerment Academy, is an initiative towards making teachers innovative educators and problem solvers.

A more refined and iterated version of next TeachLAB is in the making. Willing hands, creative hearts and open minds are welcome to shape the program with us.