The Bridge School

2012-2013 – Madhumita Dasgupta, Kolkata, India

tir_mdMadhumita has a Bachelor Degree in Special Education (Locomotor Impairments and Neuromuscular Disorders) and is currently working as a Research Assistant in Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Kolkata, India.

After a very successful teacher in residency, Madhumita Dasgupta returned to her position in the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy in Kolkata, India. Madhumita had developed a very extensive plan for disseminating what she had garnered from her stay at The Bridge School and had already gathered support from her colleagues to begin the implementation of the ideas and strategies that she had found effective and felt would work within the school’s environment. Working with the school’s administration and management, Madhumita began the process of working with the classroom teachers, students, and families to integrate the ideas and strategies into their school culture.

One of Madhumita’s primary responsibilities is the support of students in inclusive settings. In consultation with the Transition team from The Bridge School, she generated a presentation and developed a series of activities focused on abilities awareness and peer communication interactions to be used with typically developing students in the inclusive classrooms. She modeled her presentations to the students after the strategies used by The Bridge School’s transition team. The presentation was done in conjunction with a student slated for inclusion. An edited excerpt from her report on the success of one presentation is as follows:

The Abilities Awareness session went off quite well, especially the Yes/No game with the magic pouch! I had carried some “Buddy” badges and some “Teacher Buddy” badges, so all the kids wanted to sit next to “R” and wear the badge. His caregiver continues to sit next to him out of her concern.  I am working with the teachers to strengthen the buddy concept, so that the caregiver will feel more comfortable in fading out her support. We have a lot of work to do with introducing a speech-generating device, but hopefully that will progress quickly. I am about to introduce the “News Sharing & Speech Bubble” strategy there as well! This weekend, my goal is to have “R” conduct a story-telling session with Power Point and use the screen reading option as well as the caregiver to interact before and during the story telling. Also, if the teacher agrees to ask a few questions after the story telling, am trying to see how “R” can use that to answer at least two questions.

When the Teacher in Residence returns to their home country it is critical to have the support of the administration of their school and their colleagues in order to be successful in the dissemination of the strategies they have learned. It is also important to them to be sensitive to the nature of implementing change in any organization. The faculty and staff associated with the Teacher-in-Residence program at The Bridge School offers suggestions as to how to approach the introduction of new ideas, new strategies, and new expectations. Getting buy-in from the administration, the staff, students, and the families is critical to the success of their dissemination efforts. Madhumita is well respected by the administration and by her colleagues, so they were eager to learn of her experiences and to evaluate what strategies they could incorporate into their educational curriculum.

Teacher in Residence Follow-Up 2014

In January 2014 an international team traveled to Kolkata to provide follow-up support for Madhumita. The team included professionals from the United States, Australia, and India who worked for two weeks in various schools in Kolkata, provided in-service training to teachers and therapists, conducted workshops and interviews with parents, and discussed the process of educating children with significant impairments in inclusive environments and in special schools. The culmination of the follow-up visit was a two-day conference focused on “Inclusion-Philosophy, Practice and Promise”.

Continuing support is available to Madhumita through the use of technology. Our partnership with Cisco Systems allows us to video conference, jointly work on planning sessions, and to observe in the classrooms. The entire staff at The Bridge School is available to consult on the various topics and discussions relating to how the strategies Madhumita has determined to be effective can be successfully integrated into the classrooms and curricular structures at the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (IICP).