By: Muhammad, S.Pd.,Teacher at SD Inpres Tapil
In September 2018, INOVASI commenced 27 grant-funded pilots, with 18 new grant partners. This grants initiative is a key part of our approach to expanding and strengthening engagement with Indonesia’s non-governmental education sector. One of these grant partners is CIS Timor, working to strengthen school capacity and inclusive education in East Sumba, an INOVASI partner district in East Nusa Tenggara province. Working with nine schools in Rindi sub-district, the CIS program focuses on training in inclusive education, inclusive community involvement, and coalitions for change. In this story, we hear from Muhammad, a grade four teacher at SD Inpres Tapil primary school in East Sumba.
As a grade four teacher, I was not expected to participate in the pilot program, as they were only choosing teachers from grades one to three. But, since the first grade teacher was unable to attend because she was on maternity leave, I was sent by the principal to replace her. I was very excited at the opportunity to join this inclusive education program. The CIS Timor often came to my school to run activities and discussions, and I have participated in all sessions.
I can definitely say that my knowledge has begun to change and improve. Inclusive education is a new topic for me – it’s rare to hear about the issue, let alone work on inclusive education practices. Although maybe this means I have been ignorant of the issue, I can feel that my attitude has now changed. From my own schooling experience, I learnt that teachers just had one way of teaching, and so I have used the same methods. When dealing with children who were slower learners, who had little attention span, I would find myself feeling frustrated and I would not include them in the classroom very well. After attending this training, I’ve now realised that there is something wrong with the way I was teaching. I’ve now adjusted my teaching approach.
I did try to make the individual learning plan, even though it was quite difficult. But after filling the form out and thinking about the several learning style assessment formats, I can now recognise the needs of my students. For students who seemed bored, I gave them additional assignments to do at home. The students are now progressing. For those improving their counting, although they take a long time, the calculations and answers are correct. I’m so happy about this.
The most important change for me has been my own understanding. I used to think that fear of teachers would make students want to study harder. I was wrong. Children are happier if the teacher is more active and friendly. I can see my own students notice the difference in my teaching.
One challenge to keep working on is getting parents to help their children’s learning at home. Most parents of children with disabilities are not well educated, and they lack reading materials at home. This means school is the only place where students can learn well. We need to keep improving this issue.