Sara Completes Training of Tibetan Teachers

Group Photo 2Sara Buckerfield, Education Consultant and TCEF volunteer successfully completed her workshop to train Tibetan teachers in India. This was the main phase of our English Acquisition Project.  More information on this project is available at:

Summary of English Acquisition Workshop

Ed Secy at OpeningThe English Acquisition Workshop consisted of four days of professional development for twenty-six English middle school teachers from 15 Tibetan schools in India.  The content of the workshop was developed after multiple e mails and calls between Sara and TCEF.  While Sara is the undisputed expert in the field of language acquisition, TCEF  offered insights on Tibetan education in exile.  Throughout our conversation, the focus was on developing strategies that will translate to practical benefits for the teachers when they go back to their classrooms.  Here’s a summary of the contents of the workshop that came out of our discussions:

Day 1 English Acquisition: How children learn Academic English and how their teachers Sara teachingcan help.  Teachers learned the theories of English acquisition, the elements of Academic English,  as well as the five stages children move through as they learn a second language.

Day 2 Miles on the Tongue: Strategies to boost the learning of Academic English while mastering English course content. This second day focused on strategies and teaching methods used to increase the amount of student talk in their classrooms.  Because it is widely acknowledged that increasing verbal output has strong implications for the acquisition of language, teachers were given a wide array of strategies to get Tibetan students talking in the classroom setting.  Teachers learned methods to improve the quality of student talk when answering as a whole class, when conversing with a student partner, and when addressing the class and teacher as an individual.

Sara teaching 2Day 3 Best Literacy Practices: Strategies that increase reading comprehension.  The focus on this third day shifted to learning about literacy instruction with adolescent students.  Teachers learned about reading theory as well as techniques to teach advanced phonics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.

Day 4  was a day used to complete unfinished content from the previous three days as well as to afford teachers time to work in grade level teams to complete additional lesson planning in topics covered in the workshop.

How did the Workshop Go?

A: Feed back from Sara Buckerfield
Sara loved the teachers that attended her workshop. In her report, she wrote,” … It was truly an honor to work with such a dedicated and earnest group of teachers.” Further,  In her blog, she describes this experience as “a high point in my educational and personal journey.”

B: Feed back from the Tibetan Department of Education (DOE)Receiving Certificates
TCEF has received warm letters of appreciation from the DOE on the workshop.  Mr.Ngodup Tsering, the Education Secretary of the Tibetan Govt. in Exile to thanked TCEF for this project and thought  that the workshop went very well. Mr. Tsering Dhondup, Education Officer and coordinator for this workshop wrote, “I am very sure that the teachers must have benefited and learnt a lot from the workshop…”.

C: Feed back from the teachers who attended the workshop
For the project, we feel the most important feed back is from the 26 teachers that attended the workshop. TCEF sent two evaluation forms for all teachers to fill – an objective form where at one glance we could get a sense of how participants felt about the workshop and then a short subjective written evaluation form. The responses from both the evaluations indicate that they found the workshop very useful and absolutely loved Sara, her diligence and commitment to the project.

What next? Where do we go with this project from here ?
Sara is enthusiastic about the teachers that she trained. She wants to further help them if they have any problems, especially in implementing her strategies when they are in their classrooms. The plan is to set up an interactive window addition to the TCEF web site, so that teachers in India can post all the questions to Sara and she can respond to them. Sara is committed to the sustainability of this project and has assured us that from her side she can and will devote whatever time it takes to respond to the questions.

During the workshop, Sara identified a few teachers from the group who she felt had potential to be project support teachers or resource persons. Sara can use this interactive window to continue to be in touch with them, and if necessary, give them additional instructions, so that we can hopefully groom a core group of Tibetans who can then train other teachers down the line.

This workshop was for middle school teachers.  One of the feed backs that we sought from the teachers was, if they felt a similar workshop would benefit primary school teachers and everyone thought it would truly benefit them. We hope to work towards that happening.