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Yog Bharti Public School
Providing a truly holistic education through a progressive school.
Yog Bharti Public School has been making incessant efforts to improve student impact in our school. Here are some of the factors which we feel will help improve the impact: School Tranformation Make morning school assemblies more interactive and student oriented. Teachers should be expected to model the behaviour they expect from the students. Morning school assemblies to be cut down from 6 days a week to 2-3 days a week. Interactive Class assemblies should be organized on the other 3-4 days. Use of softboards and displays for constructive purposes like publically appreciating school staff and students, for word walls, etc. Greater freedom for teachers to ‘explore and improvise’ in their delivery of curriculum. Big Goal setting with students to invest them in their own learning. Create Parent Advisory Committees (PAC)s for investing parents in school’s mission and make communication between parents and school much more efficient.
Class Tranformation Shifting focus in English teaching to a functional, practical-usage based approach rather than the current grammar based theoretical approach. Adopting NCERT textbooks for a conceptual and well-paced curriculum that suits the learning speed of our students. Make exams more conceptual, aligned to real life and focussing on usage of critical thinking skills. Using projects and activities rather than a traditional pen and paper test for Formative Assessments (Following the CCE framework) Shifting from a focus on 33% passing marks to 80% mastery in our assessments. Putting student learning outcome at the center of all teaching methods.
“Utopia lies at the Horizon. I take ten steps towards the horizon and it moves ten steps back. I take twenty swift steps forward and it swiftly moves twenty steps back. What then is the purpose of the Horizon? What then is the purpose of the Utopia? It makes me keep walking..” -Eduardo Galeano
While every organization can connect its vision and mission to this quote, the quote really comes alive in a school setting. The way a school functions, decides the course of a society over the next 60-70 years. What the students will make of the society in the coming decades will decide if it is a utopian society or not. With that accepted, it can be also be related that every step towards the horizon is only a step in fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of our children. Not the ones who can or the ones who cannot, nor the ones who are quiet and well behaved or those who are hyperactive and often labeled ‘Troublemakers’. The common purpose should be to raise the thinking and achievement levels of EACH AND EVERY KID in our school IRRESPECTIVE of where they are right now. As someone who have just been debutant teachers, we have been quite motivated and inspired by the way our school functions. Before joining the fellowship we really didn’t expect so much professionalism and emphasis on progressive education. It has also been our fortune to have observed something’s that perhaps become oblivious to the eyes of those who see/feel/experience them on daily basis. Here are some of the observations that we had and some suggestions based on our limited knowledge and experience in Education. Their purpose is not to be a prescriptive document but to have a thought dialogue between various stakeholders in the school. Transformation in School Transformation in Class
It is important to clarify right at the onset that even though we divide the levels of transformation in School and Class but just like an organic cell, what lies at the heart of all these transformations is transformation in every kid. Every kid is different and every kid is special is quite the rhetoric of the town in all modern schools, but what it does not translate into is an active belief that none of the students are the same. They are all different and shall stay to be different for various reasons (societal/parental/genetical) and its we who have to adapt to their different needs than the students adapting to us, because then they become mere Xerox copies of our own experiences than being a product of their own unique experiences. In exact terms, they become caged by our experiences and never get to try being a strong individual self.
We should teach our kids to be better than us rather than being like us. They should obviously take all the good values from us but not in a way that either forces them to do so or makes them dependent on us. There will always be multiple situations that demand a kid to think critically on their own and it’s a good probability that we never had an experience like that, due to which – we never told our kids how did we deal them and the kids have no idea how to deal with them. In such trying instances are kids would crumble before their problems without even giving a proper fight. Much like an untrained army depending only on their leader’s strength fighting a war without their leader.
Student’s academic learning is only a part of what the kids will use in their quest to be successful in life. The social culture that they imbibe from the school is what will live on with the students for the rest of their lives. Our school should be proud of itself in the values that we hold close to our heart. We have a focused attempt at value building in our students. However, while our efforts are well intentioned, we think they can be better directed. Currently our students hear us talking about our values but don’t see us actively following them. A very basic example would be that we expect our kids to stand in attention position without talking and paying proper homage while the national anthem/song is playing in the morning assembly, but we as staff are more often that not following the same rule. They don’t see us standing in attention position or paying any homage or even singing the song. An approach where we are shouting at a student for not standing straight during national anthem shows to the kid that even the teacher is taking the liberty of not observing attention during the national anthem and hence its not that important, he’s more important than the anthem. Kids learn by imitation. They want to act as adults do. If we set positive examples by following an ideal conduct, we will be their role models and the kids will do as we want them to do, just that we need to do what we want them to do first.
This will also develop a feeling of community where we don’t try and demarcate teachers and staff members as special people for whom rules can be bent but as people who are equals in every way but need to respected because they have more experience and are elders. In a more specific sense, we could have less frequent school assemblies and more common class assemblies. One can observe on a random day as to how many kids are actually paying attention while one of us is sharing really important values/wisdom with them. Only a fraction of the students are able to pay attention. Why? Psychologists tell us of a concept called social loafing whereby people in a large group try and absolve themselves of their responsibility because they feel that its okay if they won’t do it, because there are many more who will still do it. This is a common phenomenon across every large group setting. A small gathering means more engagement, more transparency and higher levels of engagement. Otherwise the morning assembly becomes counter productive and highly negative with kids being forced to just stand straight and recite poem while constantly being shouted on or being made to switch off their brain. Result? They start talking because they don’t feel mentally engaged in the assembly. This agitates us as teachers since we expect them to stand straight for the entire duration of the assembly. This expectation of ours is again unreasonable since its not the kids fault that they are not being engaged intellectually, its ours. And when our expectations aren’t met, things get ugly and we start becoming frustrated and the frustration often turns violent and puts us as well as the kids into a lot of stress. It is a lose-lose situation for everyone. To make the school assemblies more interesting, they should be restricted to twice or thrice a week. Perhaps the beginning of the week (Monday) and the end of the week (Saturday). On the other days (Tuesday-Friday) every class should discuss something for half an hour and there should be some value building discussions/debates/activities. This time between 8 and 8.30 am could also be used as a zeroperiod for intellectual simulation of the kids. They could use this time to play board games like Chess and scrabble, solve mathematical problems of a higher degree, have quizzes/debates/etc. and other critical thinking inducing activities. The start of the day in a school should really make them hungry for knowledge.
Better use of our infrastructure
As a school, we have many strengths, one of them is our infrastructure. We have so much we can do out of it. Take for example the soft boards outside the classrooms. Currently they’re just used as decoration spaces to make our school look appealing to the eyes. But perhaps we can also make them appealing for our minds. May be we can use them to display student work and shout outs (appreciative notes for motivating someone who has done good work). This
way everyone in the school gets to see a kids name and the kid would really value being positively rewarded for good behavior/actions. Teachers should proactively write such shout outs on the smallest of things to give the kids something to value about themselves. Teachers could also use the soft boards inside the class for instructional purposes. They could put up word walls that have those key words that they are learning this unit/year. That way kids constantly keep on seeing these words. The word wall has been found to be a very effective tool for revising concepts. The words can be arranged in a way where they are associated to each other through a logical thread. A word web can also be formed that connects all the words through a cotton thread in a logical manner.
A holistic growth in the child is not possible in school alone. For a child to grow the child’s parents, the teachers and the child him/herself need to be invested in the mutual vision for excellence.
Teacher Investment In our conversations with the school teachers, we have found that they share a common vision for our work. They all want to see kids have fun and feel a sense of achievement when they are teaching. They feel that they need to teach their students as they would want their own kids to study. And even though they express a desire to grow and improve on their teaching style, they feel they are restricted by the syllabus and school administration in doing so. Our personal experience dictates that the school administration is very willing to promoting change and has been focused on improving the standards of education in the school. Their cooperation itself has been the corner stone of any work that we have done in our class. It is a fact that people resist change. They may find change attractive but the very process of changing is not at all appealing for them. However, the school leaders have navigated our new system through the thick and thin and shown us that systematic change in education is possible. That said, if the teachers are still feeling that they can become better educators but feel restricted about it, then perhaps we need to have a dialogue inside the school. A meeting where everyone gets to talk and discuss new models for progress in our classrooms and the school in whole. An educators research has shown that teachers work best when the school administration gives them enough freedom to explore and improvise. We as the ‘new entries’ into the staff have felt that free dom but perhaps the staff members who have been there for a while don’t realize that they have as much freedom to improve their classrooms. This could be made more clear to them during the meeting. They should also be motivated with incentives for showing progress. The incentive could be anything as long as it makes a teacher work even harder.
With greater freedom, also comes greater accountability. The teachers are free to improvise and innovate inside their classrooms as long as they are accountable to the school for their growth. But when we say accountability of class progress, how do we measure the progress?
Student Investment Students and teachers should have an yearly activity at the beginning of the year where they set a big ambitious goal for themselves. What do they wish to see themselves do over the next year? These goals could be academic, for eg. All the students will score 80% in Maths and grow by 40% in their English scores in comparison to the previous year. These goals are very big and ambitious and they need to be that way to get the best out of us by constantly pushing us and making us feel that we still have not achieved enough. The Big goal also needs to be measureable so that we can measure our progress and hence keep the accountability alive. These big goals can they be further translated into unit goals and weekly goals using back ward planning. When kids see these goals in everyday life, it gives them a sense of purpose and they feel like studying. Otherwise it’s just our usual rhetoric of ‘You will not get a job if you will not study!’. The kids have not experienced what it means to get a job. They have a short attention span and don’t like being told of rewards that will only be true ten to fifteen years down the line. They would rather just concentrate on making a paper plane than on something that everyone says will happen when they will grow up. Goals make the kids see things in the near future and have a more realistic sense of competition and achievement.
Parental Investment A student on average spends only 4-5 hours in the school. The rest of the time is spent with his/her family. Hence the learning can be exponentially increased if the family also provides an educative environment to the kids. Parents often feel left out when it comes to their kids education and only get to talk to the teachers once in a month where lack of communication for an entire month comes out as frustration for the parents and makes the PTM a not so positive time for teachers as well as parents. A strategy that many progressive schools use is called Parent Advisory Committees (PAC). The main aim of the PAC is to provide an opportunity for parents to share their ideas and mutual concerns on every facet of school life. It helps provide an on-going communication between parents and the management. PAC will keep all parents informed of school policies and issues, and provide continuous feedback. It will also help endorse, recommend, and collaborate on school initiatives like the Bal Mela, Annual Day, etc.
Through the PAC we will also try to involve parents with their children in academic learning at home, including homework, goal setting and other curricular related activities. PAC shall also have a few decision making powers such as making suggestions and in advocacy activities through independent teams on Academics, School and Bus administration, safety, sports, food & hygiene etc. PAC should also be expected to deal with concerns and rumours, advocate for the school in the community, and advise the school about issues of concern. Parents of each Grade/Section are requested to give their acceptance to be a Parent Representative of the Grade, to the Class teachers of their children. We will collate the list of interested Parents and short list a few. We will request the Parents of that Grade to vote for the shortlisted candidates, who will be elected as Parent representatives of that Grade/Section. Parent representatives will then elect the Advisory Committee amongst themselves. This will include 8 parents and 3 teacher members. The teachers will be nominated by the Principal. Members will serve on the committee for one academic year.
The syllabus decides much of what a classroom does in a year. Its their yearly master plan. For a class hoping to have transformational impact on its kids, it can’t be emphasized how important a role Syllabus plays. In our school we are following CBSE curriculum and in our TFI classrooms we are following a curriculum that is CBSE aligned with U.S based common core curriculum. While the CBSE curriculum is a very rigorous curriculum that has been serving us really well over the last few decades, the rapidly changing world has changed our needs and the needs of the economic world from people who can do the work to people who can get the work done more efficiently, without supervision and with more insight into their work than a regular computer. It’s a knowledge driven economy and everyone wants critical thinkers. In such a scenario, where we want our kids to be able to not just remember and understand a concept, but to be able to apply it, analyze it, evaluate it and create something better and more efficient out of it. From a pilot, to a doctor and from a doctor to an engineer, human jobs are being taken over by computers. In short, you got to be smarter and a better multitasker than a computer to keep holding your job. To make our kids such dynamic and strong individuals, we need to give them a syllabus which doesn’t only raise their level of awareness and conceptual understanding but also gives them enough opportunities to apply the concepts and critically analyze them. The removal of one entire term examination is a very welcome step in that direction. The same time can now be used to have student
led projects where the emphasis is on creating something new out the concepts understood over the first one unit. Like we said, every child is different and their ways as well as pace of learning are very different. Hence the syllabus shouldn’t be forced to onto teachers without realizing what is the level of mastery of kids over concepts from the previous year’s class. For eg. If the class average on maths is 55% in sec ond standard, then their class goals for the third standard should be set at the beginning of the year in accordance with their performance of 55% in the previous year. Say 50% growth, that’ll mean the class should be at 82.5% average mastery level in maths at the end of the third standard. In this case, a teacher is given an annual goal, is told that he/she can decide to skip or concentrate on whichever topics she considers important for kids to reach that goal and hence go about it in a more planned manner rather than trying to get each and every kid to finish the whole syllabus and end up not justifying the efforts on any of them. This will also help give the teacher a little room for experimentation by releasing the responsibility and making him/her directly accountable for her class’s progress. It is often observed that the classrooms build either on just rigor (regular practicing of a skill) or on just understanding, but for effective learning, we need a balance between both, which is time consuming but more rewarding as well.
English as a Second Langage
Ours is an English medium school and hence teaching English is an important area of our syllabus. But what we have noticed is that the English instruction in our school is very rote and theoretical. The kids don’t get to converse in English or read, write or understand English independently. They can only do it with the help of their teachers. There are several factors for this problem: 1) We don’t talk to our kids in English. They will never want to learn the language if they do not get to use the language. 2) Writing has come to mean mere handwriting and no effort is made to interpret it as creative writing. And by creative writing we don’t intend to call it story/poem writing but writing fiction (stories) as well as non-fiction (letters, articles, essays, research papers) using one’s own creative mind and not by remembering and printing over a sheet of paper. 3) Grammar is over-emphasized as a means to learn English. While no one can deny that grammar is a very important component of learning and practicing a language, however English is not our first language. We are learning English as a Second Language (ESL), and hence our instruction should be based on a functional approach, where we try and make kid fluent at using English for daily functions in personal as well as professional life rather than be able to tell the difference between a verb’s different forms. The previous comment should not be understood to espouse the choice between not teaching grammar and teaching grammar but to simply prioritize what is important for our kids and at what time in their life. 4) Lack of knowledge about phonics. English is a phonetical language with multiple sounds coming out of the same letters. For eg. The letter ‘A’ has two sounds, the long a sound (‘a’ in plane) and
the short a sound (‘a’ in apple). Using Phonics at the primary and secondary level can really push the reading levels of the kids to higher levels of fluency. It is impractical to teach kids in primary grades all the basic punctuation marks ( , . ‘ “” ? ) and keep on practicing it till secondary school. Rather have just two basic punctuation marks like the full stop and a question mark and teach them till at least the majority of the kids have mastered them and have become fluent at using them. I.e. Every sample of their written work would show the use of punctuation marks without telling the kids to do so every time they write. When the kids have gone through the basic grammar in primary grades, they should slowly be moved to an approach towards English as a Language Art (ELA) whereby they can decode and interpret a text critically using their own knowledge base in English grammar as well as their literary experiences. To sum up, English Grammar education needs to be made more practical. It should have lesser syllabus and more practice.
Selection of Books
Selection of Books gains a prominent place in syllabus delimitation. Every publisher is backed by a different expert but it’s a known truth that best amongst the experts are part of the NCERT team and that their books are the best in terms of content in India. Not only are these books cheaper but also have a better content, at least when looked at from the kids perspective. The stories are such that they are at par with the reading level of majority of the kids. Kids in our classrooms will definitely find reading and understanding NCERT books much more easier than reading books from the private publishers which have books at a much higher reading level. Books at that reading level become books that induce rote learning since kids can only read them by repeating after the teachers and not independently. It is also our knowledge that running a private school in a low-income community is a very difficult task. In such schools, where the kid’s fees are too low, schools need to depend on other sources of income to keep the school running. One major source could be selling private publisher books, which offer more discounts to school than the government books. While this makes perfect business sense to use the books as one of the sources of income for the school, it’s a strategy that has long term consequences. The inability of the kids and the teachers to access the books and enjoy them slowly creates negativity towards the books and by extension, towards academics. In years to come kids become dependent on teachers for marks and lose any interest or sense of value towards education but become caged by marks alone thanks to an inaccessible and un-enjoyable syllabus. Such students and up being disillusioned by education and start finding other more destructive missions for their lives and the value system of the school goes for a toss. Something that no school administration values or enjoys.
Assessments have always been feared by kids. Not because it ‘checks them’ for what they have learnt but because ‘it checks on’ them. Who is assessing who in an assessment? Is it the school assessing
which kid is doing the best and which kid is not? Is it the parent who is seeing how well his kid is doing in comparison to his neighbor’s kid? Or perhaps is it for the kid to assess how well he has been working and learning in the classroom? I doubt say anyone considers it to be the latter. Kids love testing themselves. Seeing if they can make a better score in their favorite game. Can they hit a century in the next match? Can they finish two glasses of milk every day? Why is exam supposed to be any different? Because we as adults consider it as different and make a big deal about it. CBSE has moved towards the CCE model with a focus towards making assessments more student friendly and real life so that all kids find avenues to prove their self but CCE does not work without us. We need to actively pursue it as part of our assessment reforms. The deletion of second term exams from the yearly calendar is a wonderful step towards it. I don’t think many schools will find the courage to take such a big leap from the traditional styles of examinations but we have taken that leap of faith and we should pride ourselves in doing it. Now we just need to make the best use of it now by completing the reforms process.
Bloom’s Taxonomy The assessments need to be made more conceptual and real life. If we are teaching our kids measurement of length using centimeters, feet and inches, then our questions shouldn’t be merely how many centimeters make one feet but how big do they think would be a human? 6 feet or 10 inches? Thus effectively checking whether the kids are getting to apply the logic of different units in real life and
have an approximate idea of how big or small an object is depending on the unit it is measured in and which unit is appropriate for what sized object. It is a common misconception that a conceptual assessment involves using only Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). Conceptual knowledge can be checked through various formats of questions: Draw and show, Write and express, tick the correct option, explain using diagrams and real life examples, etc. Why then are MCQs so common? MCQs are relatively more frequent because they check only specific conceptual knowledge and not the writing skills of a kid or his command over the language in expressing his ideas. For eg. A kid may not feel comfortable explaining why 22 is same as 2+2 in English language but through aligned options, he can choose the one which describes what he thinks. Again, it’s the options, which decide how difficult or easy the question is. The level of question can be increased or decreased by changing the options and/or their language. Nevertheless, there is nothing to stop us from giving explanation seeking questions in Maths papers and draw and show types questions in science. Human brain and especially that of our kids has evolved in its thinking thanks to the constant exposure to various forms of media. If our way of judging how our kids think is not updated along with the real world then we will only be creating a myth of our kid’s progress and not their actual progress and therefore substantiating the belief that one does not need to be successful in school to be successful in life. A very basic example to prove how different our exams have become from real life is that even during the administration of an exam, kids find it difficult to even understand the vocabulary in the questions, thereby showing that even the vocabulary we use in our classrooms is not the same as the ones we give in our exams. If the current exams are not even representative of the way our classrooms function, then they are definitely not representative of the real world outside our classrooms. The real question however is, what can we do to correct this? While it will take a collective dialogue in the school to have real reforms in assessment, some of the things that could be tried are: Open book test that build on Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) like analysis, evaluation and creation. The students can open their books but it just gives them information to process, not ready made answers to write down . Student centric examinations in the second term. It has been a widely accepted research by Harvard Professor Howard Gardner that intelligence cannot be judged in terms of IQ alone. Intelligence manifests itself in various capacities like visual, kinesthetic (bodily movements), auditory (through audio), logical, naturalistic (nature related), inter-personal, intra-personal, etc. They all are present in different people in different capacities. A kid may be high on Visual and Kinesthetic intelligence but low on logical and auditory. That doesn’t mean that the kid has any low chances of being successful in life than someone who is high on logical intelligence and is good with maths. The kid with visual and kinesthetic intelligence can perhaps prove his understanding of place value system by the mans of a painting or a visual play. At least once in a year, the kids should have system of evaluation that does justice to their individual identity and does not judge them against the majority in the society.
Multiple Intelligence Theory by Howard Garnder of Harvard University has revolutionized the way we think to intelligence.
The Class teacher, subject teachers and the department should come together to discuss with student/groups of students as to which project they could do that will really push their understanding and learning. The current emphasis in exams is on ‘passing’. This is a mere reiteration of the fact that we all need to score a minimum in everything and just get done with it. We think it’s a very negative approach towards academics. While not completing negating the concept of pass-fail, we suggest the shift of focus from passing percentage of 33% to mastery percentage of 80%. We should push all our kids to pursue mastery of a concept rather than just pass in that concept. Such an ambitious target makes the student want to learn, want to excel and makes the teacher not just concentrate on finishing the entire syllabus but concentrate on making kids master the concepts and skills. It’s a more positive approach and makes the exams a challenge rather than a hurdle.
With this approach we can have a firm reform of our assessment system. The end of the year final scores should be used to decide the learning goals for the students in their next academic year. For eg. If a kid hasn’t mastered Place Value in second standard, then his syllabus goal for third standard should not dictate mastery of multiplication but mastery of place value first since it’s a more fundamental skill
and continuing without it makes mastery of multiplication also doubtful. Note: The term used is Mastery and not pass. Passing with 40% in multiplication is still possible through rote learning despite of having no mastery over Place Value but the emphasis on mastery with 80% in multiplication becomes very difficult by rote alone and would need mastery over basic concepts like place value as a pre-requisite. This does mean extra work for the teacher in terms of differentiating between kids but most of the kids can be clubbed together into groups of similar mastery levels and their learning goals can be clubbed together to run the classes more efficiently. Also, the End of the Year (EOY) scores can be used every year to differentiate the classrooms. There are two sections in every standard and both of them can be made with a fresh muster roll every year by dividing the kids according to their performance in the previous year EOYs. For eg. Higher order kids, i.e. kids who have good mastery over basic concepts can be all in a particular section and lower order kids can be merged to form the second section. This makes the work easier for the teachers since they know what levels their kids are on and how to push them for growth that is comparative to their own self and kids with similar levels.
For a child, his classroom is like the second breeding ground and the place where he will gain his social identity. The classrooms need to provide him/her with an environment where he wants to learn and not forced to learn. While all of this sounds very idealistic, it is indeed possible. On the onset, a class can be transformed by three active measures: 1) Real time Data tracking Teachers are often surprised by their students’ performance in the exams. The students may perform below or above expectations and this happens often enough. Not because the student performed radically different in the exam but because our expectations from him/her are not based on any evidence. We teach our kids and then don’t check their understanding
Activity based learning
An activity should not be treated to be an exclusive event that we do centered around an objective or a chapter, but an inclusive process that we engage our kids in throughout the learning cycle. For eg. If kids are studying money, then the kids should not be just told to collect different notes and coins and paste them in their scrap book but track the amount of currencies their parents use in a day, how to create our own currency notes and coins, writing essays on a world without money, enacting a business setting (like a restaurant) and simulating a transaction (ordering one pizza and asking for the bill). This way many kids are getting many avenues to engage with the different ideas around the concept of money and become fluent with its use and nomenclature.
and growth till the time the unit gets over. We need to be able to track a kid’s understanding during every lesson, over a week, over a unit and over an entire year. Such a real time tracking of data not only tells us which chapters have we have taught well and which ones we haven’t but also tells the kids how much they are learning each day. This real time data makes a student feel responsible for his actions/ behavior in the class as well as ownership of his own learning. This data can also be displayed prominently in the class using creative trackers to bring in some competitive spirit amongst the students to perform and grow. 2) Ownership of class performance by the Teachers We have been grown up in a system where if a kid does not perform, we say the kid is weak. We have clearly demarcated between the weaker kids and the kids who can perform. Coldly speaking, it may or may not be true. But what is the ultimate purpose of a teacher when teaching? To share his/her knowledge with the kids or to make them grow and excel? If it is the latter, then blaming the kid for being weak and uninterested in his education will not be helpful. We become helpless when we blame all of it onto the kids. However, what we can do and what we must do is, take the responsibility for the growth of each kid in our classroom. This way we have only ourselves to blame. Also, it’s a fact that not every kid who fails in school, fails in life. That means, every kid, even the ‘weakest’ in our classrooms have the potential to excel. We may or may not have observed the underlying potential but it does exist in each and every child in different capacities and manners, but it does exist. We have spoken about how different children learn through different means, and hence we need the teachers to be able to
Check For Understanding (CFU) CFU helps a teacher check if his/her kids have understood something while the teacher is teaching. A simple thumbs up for saying understood and a thumbs down to show that ‘I haven’t understood’ can also be very effective. In Maths, we can have mini whiteboards (laminated pieces of paper) over which kids can write the answer to a quick CFU question with a sketch pen. Think, Pair and Share can be used to make kids think about something, pair up with a partner and share it out to see if they have both understood the same thing or not. If not, the natural dialogue takes over and the discussion solves the doubt or at least makes the teacher aware that there are still doubts.
gauge the way different kids in their classes learn and adopt a methodology which suits them better. For eg. Many of our kids have a musical intelligence. Hence, we sing the multiplication tables rather than simply reciting them for a better memorization. Hence, we need to move from the dogma of ‘Non-Performing students’ to ‘Non-performing teachers’.
3) Student driven learning “Education is about filling a cup with water but about kindling a fire and letting it grow” - Socrates
We are too used to spoon feeding our kids with knowledge. We remember somethings, we revise them before a class (or better still, copy them in a notebook somewhere) and start reproducing it in front of our kids. I.e. Filling their cups of knowledge with our own limited knowledge. This way kids become dependent on us, they are not learning or creating anything new but are merely becoming Xeroxes of our knowledge. We feel it is almost unfair to the kids since we have spent our young life learning new things and are just passing what we learnt to our next generation without getting them in a habit to learn for themselves. In a world that is constantly changing, imparting our kids with knowledge that is itself a few generations old (assuming a teacher is at least twenty years old and a generation gap being 10 years) is as good as producing students who will go into the outside world ten years down the line, but will be thinking at least 25 years behind. For a rapidly progressive economy, our students will be nonproductive assets. Student driven learning is essential for someone to be self-sustainable in a knowledge driven economy. But what does student driven learning look like? This question has as many answers as there are students. There are so many things we could try to gradually release the responsibility of learning to our kids, but Activity Based Learning is something that has been tried and proven to have successful results. Classroom observation by the school administration and Peer observations by teachers can be an effective means of accountability and knowledge sharing to see what is working and what is not working.
Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running. - Abe Gubegna Transforming a school should be considered as the building block of national transformation. A little effort on our part will take us collectively a long distance. Just by prioritizing EACH kids success, we make ourselves more accountable to our kids and to our profession. There can be many ways of transforming our school but the reasons for transforming need to be mutual. This process of transformation cannot be one way up or down. It has to start from the bottom level with teachers and has to be facilitated by those on the top to make sure whatever changes we try to bring in are not only sustainable but also things we all believe in. Together, we can make it happen. We can truly change the future of our kids and our country, one kid, one class and one school at a time. All we need is a little courage.
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