As Sri Lanka’s Christian colleges take steps to rebuild their facilities, staffs, and curricula, the United Board has been helping some of their faculty and leaders explore new approaches to teaching, learning, and other forms of student support. Two recent workshops at St. John’s College in Jaffna provided opportunities for these educators to learn new skills, share experiences and challenges, and reflect upon what the qualities they want to bring to their interaction with students.
The Training Program for Teachers, held August 6-10, introduced 106 teachers from 13 institutions to the framework of whole person education and different methods for effective teaching and learning. The resource persons emphasized that teachers need to bring more than academic qualifications into the classroom: they also need to develop skills for communication, human relationships, problem-solving, counseling, and other soft skills. Role play, games, and other exercises helped the participants practice some of these skills and, in the process, experience a student-centered environment. In small group discussions, participants identified the qualities of great teachers, which go beyond sound academic training to include being encouraging and enthusiastic, being willing to facilitate discussion and harmony in the classroom, and building confidence and self-esteem among students, among other qualities.
The Advanced Leadership Seminar, held August 13-15, focused on the challenges Sri Lankan colleges face in upgrading their institutions to the higher education level. The resource persons offered presentations on leadership for whole person education; how leaders can develop the human resources needed for higher education; different styles of leadership, including servant leadership, transformational leadership, and team leadership; and counseling. Five principals from Indian colleges also were in attendance, and over the course of the three-day program, they offered practical advice to their Sri Lankan colleague on how to introduce tertiary-level courses and degree programs. Small group discussions challenged participants to envision where they want their college to be in five years and then to outline an action plan to achieve their goal.
The United Board expresses its appreciation to St. John’s College for hosting the two programs and to the resource persons who contributed their expertise.