Creating a Breathing Space

Many of us are familiar with the “oxygen mask rule” from air travel. The rule instructs us in an emergency to put on our own oxygen mask first before helping those around us. Roland Barth, the founder of the Harvard Principals’ Center, frequently employed this metaphor to make the point that adults in schools need to be learning and growing in order to help students learn and grow. Psychologist Rob Evans invoked the rule to remind educators that we must take care of ourselves in order to care for others.  

Now more than ever, the oxygen mask rule is needed in education. Teaching and leading during this challenging and unprecedented period of a coronavirus pandemic and national protests to end systemic racism only underscores that educators must be able to handle stress and model caring and culturally responsive practices in order to create school and classroom communities where everyone feels safe, cared for and valued. 

During this spring of school closure and remote learning, teachers and principals reported increased stress as they struggled to cope with the unknown and plan for new ways of teaching and learning. And, as is a danger when working from home, the lines between work and home blurred and it became even more challenging to unplug from work and turn the inner voice off. 

When faced with so many in need during this time of crisis, it may feel indulgent or even privileged to be talking about self-care. It is actually more important than ever. Parker J. Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach, reminds us that: “Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship for the only gift I have, the gift I was put on this earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to the true self, and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many lives we touch.” 

One helpful way to think about self-care can be found in the work of the Mind and Life Institute, which defines 3 modes of care: receiving care, developing self-care and extending care. In this framework, self-care is defined as the ability to bring attention to our feelings and thoughts in a deeply accepting way. This is essential not only for our own well-being but also for our ability to care for others. If we have difficulty facing our own inner life, including challenging thoughts and emotions, we may also struggle to accept and embrace others. 

Defender of our borders: A salute to Indian soldiers - Punita Chouhan

In the honour of our Indian soldier today I want to share a poem. 

Words can never describe.
What a soldier and his sacrifice.
They put on hold their dreams and lives.
They die so that we can survive.
They are the most disciplined persons.
On them, depend.
The security and stability of our nation s,
They are the true son of our country,
Who fight to protect is from all the enemies
They are the real heroes of the nation, serving the motherland is their only passion.
Whether it's the blood-freezing cold 
Or the scorching sun's rays,
They are protecting us without holidays. 
They are the pride of our nation,
Their life is a source of inspiration.
Away from the mother, kids and wife 
They are fulfilling their duty for the sake of our life.
We are grateful to the mothers
Who gives birth to these soldiers,
We are obliged to the wives and kids.
Who sacrifice their rights for national deeds

Punita Chouhan
The Fabindia School

Benefits of Online Learning - Prakash Dangi

Online Teaching has become a hot trend in recent times. As technology has developed, so too has the
way we learn new skills. Thanks to the internet, those interested in boosting their knowledge and skills now have a wide range of options open to them. The main difference between online and offline learning is location. With offline learning, participants are required to travel to the training location, typically a lecture hall, college or classroom. 

With online learning, on the other hand, the training can be conducted from practically anywhere in the world. Learning and teaching can occur at times that are more convenient and productive for both students and teachers. Students can work at their own place within a given framework. Online education provides opportunities to access and share information more easily and readily. Teachers and students are able to join online communities of practice based on their area of interest rather than their geographic location. It's obvious that any study resource or information in digital format is very easy to be accessed and shared. 

Online teachers often report that students usually perform better and also show more participation in discussions during online classes. According to a recent survey conducted on a group of online instructors, 90% of them have reported that teaching online helps them to stay more connected with the students and also gives them the ability to have a better understanding about every student. 

Prakash Dangi
The Fabindia School