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Sherwood Tries New Teaching Methods After Trip to India

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Sherwood Tries New Teaching Methods After Trip to India

Melanie Sherwood teaches her class based on principles she learned while traveling India

Melanie Sherwood teaches her class based on principles she learned while traveling India

Melanie Sherwood teaches her class based on principles she learned while traveling India

Melanie Sherwood teaches her class based on principles she learned while traveling India

Xander Christou, Staff Writer

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Visual Communications teacher Melanie Sherwood spent her summer traveling around India, and came back with new visions for her classroom and a mission to teach with peace. Her trip was coordinated by the International School For Jain Studies and the PTSA. She is the third Austin High teacher to attend this summer program.

“The program is called Teaching for Peace, and you travel all over India, visiting schools and learning about Jainism and Gandhi and non-violent practices,” Sherwood said.

Jainism is a nontheistic religion practiced mostly in India. According to the British Broadcasting Company, Jainism teaches the way to liberation and bliss by living a life of harmlessness and renunciation. The program advocates for incorporating peace in classrooms.

“They call it ‘an immersive experience in practical non-violence for school teachers and educators,’” Sherwood said.

Sherwood has incorporated what she learned in the program into her classroom this year, including a mindfulness minute, and more classroom governance opportunities.

“I started doing the mindfulness minute because I think our brains need a few seconds just to rest from all the devices and the constant go-go in school,” Sherwood said.

Another goal of Sherwood’s is to have more classroom input on assignments and classroom governance. Students are given the opportunity at the beginning of the year to set rules and standards, and to help Sherwood cater to her students needs.

“I think I’m a bit of a compulsive lesson planner, and I’m kind of scaling back now trying to make things a little more simple, listen more to student voice, give students more choice in how they learn,” Sherwood said.

Sherwood has introduced a new grading policy this year, with 25% of a six weeks grade being professionalism and citizenship. This reflects students’ classroom help and involvement.

“In the beginning of class you get to sign up for citizenship points,” sophomore Mary Abby Goss said. “That can be talking about the announcements or reading the classroom norms, or you can say the leader script which goes through the rules about class.”

Sherwood has started seeing the positive effects of her new classroom changes, including improved classroom behavior and motivation.

“I believe that if I can create peace in my own life, I can share that with others,” Sherwood said. “One small little thing that somebody taught me when I was over there is that it doesn’t matter how long, every little bit helps. Now I’m trying to be more mindful and compassionate in my teaching.”

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Sherwood Tries New Teaching Methods After Trip to India