Be A Change-maker


Believe in your ability to bring change
In the book “Is Your Child Ready to Face the World?” by Dr. Anupam Sibal,  I read a chapter – "Be the change". I decided to apply this adage in my classroom. Young minds are impressionable and easy to mould. And if they're shown the right direction at the time, it can go a long way in ensuring that they lead fulfilling lives.

Most of the children in my school belong to rural areas. As a result, they mostly converse in the local language - Marwari. In such circumstances, it is difficult to teach them in English. There are some who can grasp and learn quickly, while there are others who do not even respond. I have tried displaying charts, words, pictures, stories on the classroom walls. I have put up names of objects on these pictures so that they see these things all the time and try to catch the words. Sometimes I even visit their parents and encourage them to speak with their children in Hindi and English. These efforts have helped in bringing about some positive changes.

Now, my entire class, and especially the slow learners, have started using English words. They also try hard to frame sentences in English. They can write small words in both Hindi and English. I feel happy and satisfied when they interact using both the languages with their friends and teachers.

I face this situation every year, with new admissions and a new class. But I have faith and confidence in our ability as humans to bring change, provided we keep trying. If we have will power and dedication towards it, we can change anything. 

Effecting change with a positive attitude, patience and determination is the hallmark of a good teacher. And as teachers, we must never stop believing in our ability to be change-makers.

~ Usha Panwar is an Educator at The Fabindia School. Her email address is upr4fab@gmail.com

5 little known factors that could affect your school's performance

As a busy educator, you have hundreds of things to complete in a short amount of time and you also need to ensure that your students are performing well.Though there are several factors that pose a high impact on the academic performance of your school, the most critical are below:

Learning Facilities
School facilities can have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes.  Advanced learning technologies like mobile lessons, e-books, smart class boards, virtual and game-based learning are becoming more and more popular.

Although, these technologies could not be followed by a majority of schools due to limited financial support, a basic digital learning environment that keeps students engaged and make your classroom interactive would be adequate.

Attendance 
A good attendance system supports quality learning and creates conditions for staff and students to work together effectively which will reflect in all round result of the school performance.There is a strong correlation between attendance and attainment. Missing out on lessons will leave children vulnerable to falling behind in class.

Individual and overall absences are to be monitored on a regular basis with the help of a suitable attendance management system. Pulling the attendance details weekly and analyzing the class-wise attendance will help in identifying the main reasons for absences and discuss any further action.

Parent teacher communication
Parent engagement has long been believed as one of the important factors of a student’s success. Being updated daily on their child’s homework assignments and upcoming tests is probably the best feature that parents can use to keep track of their children’s’ attainment. It is always convenient to have a mobile app that parents can use at any time to facilitate the communication.

A growing number of schools are turning to mobile applications to communicate and collaborate with parents who want to know what's happening in class and how their students are performing.

Individual performance
Tracking Individual student progress is an integral and essential part of learning cycle.Firstly, you need to set goal/target for each student. Then communicate this and systematically update the status. Use this data to chart the progress of individual and entire class progress on the learning goal. Here is an interesting article that shows how exactly can you track individual performances.

School management system
An effective school management software can help you in multiple ways. It can connect your teachers and staffs located at multiple campuses and help plan your lessons easily. Moreover, attendance and performance tracking will assist you in analyzing student improvement areas and discuss action plans to address those needs. Equipped with a mobile app, it can also help improve parental engagement which could contribute to better results.

~ Aparna V Nair, Creative Content Writer, Akira Software Solutions (P) Ltd.

Outdoor Learning: Remastered


The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky” - Margaret McMillan 

I didn’t grow up in a house with much “screen time”.  My sister and I were encouraged to be outdoors as much as possible, and we never had a video gaming system. We didn’t mind. We enjoyed being outside. At the time, I never considered the things I learned while playing in the woods or backyard. I was too busy building forts, collecting leaves, and making mud and stick “soup” for my parents. In retrospect, however, I can see that there was a lot of education happening in my backyard.  Beyond the health benefits of daily exercise, we were learning valuable skills for life.

Children today spend on average 8-10 hours per day on electronic media screens. They are fixed to these screens and then lose out on the benefits of the library all around us. The library that this open World provides us with. Many researchers have claimed that hearing about things in a specific classroom environment is not as memorable as experiences something in its natural environment. Outdoor education contributes immensely to personal growth and social awareness which is the basic aim of successful schooling. It also develops skills for the actual life outside the walls of classroom. Along with that, there is a great deal of enjoyment, fun and amazement in the participation in outdoor activities. A glance at the autobiography of Helen Keller provides us with ample evidence of this. A deaf and blind child was educated with great success when her teacher Sullivan decided to take recourse to the great trove of educational treasure that we consider the outdoors to be. 

Anyone who has seen the impact that learning and playing outdoors has on children, knows how powerful such experiences can be. Play is essential for children’s healthy development, which means it’s an essential part of every day. Learning outdoors, or ‘learning by doing’ creates lasting memories, helps build a greater awareness of the environment, provides more opportunities to think independently, and gets children feeling challenged and excited by learning. Children are more active when they play outdoors; it is essential for their healthy development and enjoyment of childhood.

Some Benefits of Outdoor School are:
  • Better grades: students' cognitive abilities are better developed outside the classroom than in
  • Better health: as young people spend less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow and we deny them access to a fundamental part of their humanity
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Increased motivation
  • Better attitude towards environment
  • Increased team work
  • Enhance communication skills
  • Community improvement
    • Education is most effective when paired with experience
    • Knowledge ought to be used to benefit others.
  • Positive feelings and memories around school and the outdoors

It can be safely summarised that a holistic approach to education can never be considered to be complete until and unless we include the great library that exists outside our window. The rote learning that has come to mean schooling and thus education itself, won’t be enough to create the building blocks for the future society. What Mark Twain has aptly stated can be considered as a testimony to the same - "Never let your schooling stand in the way of your education."

~ Ms. Rajeshree Shihag is the Principal of The Fabindia School. Her email address is principal@fabindiaschools.in

The Real Meaning Of Being A Teacher

"Oh, so you're a teacher?"
"Do you really like being a teacher?"
"You chose this profession or was it circumstantial?"
"I've heard teachers get peanuts, how do you feel about it?"
"Isn't it funny that you are back to school after passing out of school?"

These are some questions that I have come across a number of times in the past 8 years of my journey as a teacher. Be it at getting together, social gatherings, family functions or just meeting old contacts at a mall, people have often asked me "What do you do?" and I have always confidently and very cheerfully answered, "Well, I am a teacher". I have always enjoyed observing their reactions on my answer to their question. Sometimes, they have shown concern, sometimes it seemed as if they are making fun and sometimes as if I am being treated with sympathy for my decision to be a teacher. I fail to understand why? This category of people that I am talking about are those who chose to go for IT jobs after graduating from college, or who want to study abroad, or those who chose to stay in India and prepare for the rat race of getting a perfect CAT score so that they can get into the most elite B-schools of the country. Their reactions on my "I am a teacher" answer have always left me wondering if teaching is such a grotesque profession or that getting into a corporate job after graduation is the only real success mantra in life. I guess in order to understand this, we need to first understand what real success is all about. As Google defines it, Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. I guess for most of the people out there, the definition translates to Success is getting a high paying job, living in a comfortable and luxurious villa, driving an SUV, spending vacations on a oh-so-clean-and-blue-water beach at a foreign location, post pictures of my very-successful life on FB and then keep doing this until i die one day with satisfaction that yes, i have accomplished my purpose. It leads to another confusion in my mind as to what is the real purpose of this life? Being in the rat race of earning money and spending it all on myself my real purpose and is that why God created me in the first place?

Having spent 8 years in the teaching career, I have never felt incomplete. Life has been a satisfying fun ride so far. Stepping into the classroom every morning and interacting with my loving bunch has kept my happiness levels at an all time high. Dealing with their day to day issues, as simple as losing locker keys, forgetting their planners at home or as big as going through serious emotional heartbreaks, I have tried to reach out to them in the most comforting ways. Celebrating birthdays, going for community service, accompanying them for adventure camps and turning into a little child in their company, I feel I have been able to 'accomplish my purpose' and I would continue to 'aim for success', the way I perceive success. Those who ask me "Why are you a teacher?", I feel I will never be able to answer you guys because you are busy accomplishing your purpose in life, you are busy travelling, getting stuck in traffic jams, sitting in your little cubicles amongst thousands of others who are like you, busy preparing presentations, busy getting bullied by your managers and still continuing in the same jobs in the luck of getting an onsite opportunity, you are too busy working for someone else's dream and passion who makes you happy with a hefty pay check and you go back home all tired and exhausted wondering how to find happiness in that pay check. My counter question to all of you would be "What have you achieved in your life?". I am not interested in knowing about your possession of materialistic treasures as an achievement but your real achievement, which made you a super duper happy. Before questioning me on my choice of career, I guess you need to self-reflect on a lot of things and have a real meaningful definition of 'happiness' and 'success' in life. 

Looking at the current state of India, i guess the plight of a teacher is same everywhere. We know we are on the right path and doing the right thing which is meaningful and purposeful but our dear friends fail to see that purpose. Who is to blame? and Who is to make people see the beauty of this profession? Is it even important for others to understand and respect us or is self-motivation enough for a teacher to get going? These are some questions we keep asking ourselves and I know every teacher goes through this on a daily basis. Well, I believe that external validation is not important as compared to self-motivation but making others see the purpose in our profession is extremely important, not to gain acceptance from others but because educating and empowering our surroundings runs in our veins and we love to do that in all ways possible. Only if we come together, start sharing and voicing our thoughts on a larger platform, we will surely be able to communicate the right purpose of our lives and give people an insight into what all we do. An educator is someone who wears multiple hats, a counsellor, a mentor, a guide, a leader, a mother, a guardian, a role model, a strong pillar and someone who can make a real difference to someone's life. He can do all of this sitting in a happy and positive classroom full of kids who admire him in multiple ways. The rewards of doing all this are to see smile on our kids' faces, those colourful Happy Teachers Day cards, sharing Lunch along with their childish stories and much more which can never be defined in words. I wonder, what all can a corporate professional do sitting in his own tiny cubicle and what are the rewards? I am yet to find that out. 

To all my dear corporate friends, yes, we chose to differ from your choice of career not because we are any less in terms of our capabilities or intelligence but because we chose to 'teach' and because we chose happiness and self-content over materialistic pleasures. We understood the real purpose of our lives, have you? Never ask a teacher "Why did you choose to do this?"

- Shelly Sachdev is a tech in learning enthusiast and a passionate educator, her email is sachdev.shelly@gmail.com

Determination is the Foundation of Success


Is Your Child Ready To Face The World?
This book is a great inspiration to the parents as well as their children because in this book, Dr. Anupam Sibal, who is a pediatrician and a father, has sought to instil positive values and good qualities in his son. These are essential for anyone looking to live a valuable and respectful life.

By focusing on a different value in every chapter, he wants to convey to his readers that nurturing values and good attitude is a very difficult task for the parents. As a result, he has tried to share some tricks that he is picked up on his journey to equip his child to face the world.

When I was reading about Determination, I remembered a child (Aditya Roy) who was studying in Class 9. I used to observe him while teaching his class. He was the only one in class who neither interacted with teachers nor with the students. I was curious to find out the reasons for this. So, I called him to the staff room one day during lunch time. While walking to the staff room , I observed that his legs were shivering. It was only then that I found out that the child was disabled. Upon asking him about it, I realised his disability had resulted in his developing an inferiority complex.

I decided to solve this by helping him in his studies. Later that day, I visited his house and discussed the problem with him. I tried to motivate him by telling him stories of great people (like Stephen Hawking, Sudha Chandran, Hellen Keller, etc.), who were disabled too but did not let it get in their path to success. They strengthened their determination and went on to do pathbreaking things.

I regularly motivated him, and praised him for every small achievement. After a couple of days, I noticed a drastic change in his behaviour as well as in his academic performance. Now, he looks more  confident while asking questions to the teachers. He is friendly towards his classmates too.
Recently, he stood 4th in the Board examination in the district. 

Motivating students and making them realise the importance of determination goes a long way in instilling the confidence required to face the world.

~ Kusum Sharma is an Educator at The Fabindia School. Her email address is ksa4fab@gmail.com


Nobody is Perfect - Acceptance Wins The Day


I really liked the book “Is your child ready to face the world?” by Dr. Anupam Sibal. This book has taught me how to be a real teacher, a teacher who sees her students as her own children and works for their all-round development. In this book, I particularly liked the chapter - ”Making Mistakes, Accepting Flaws”.


Though it is common knowledge that “nobody is perfect”, the acceptance of this adage is hard to come by. This is especially true in case of students as they are at a learning age, one that allows them to make mistakes. But as a teacher or as a parent, it is our duty to understand and evaluate their mistakes. It is crucial to understand why the mistakes happened in order to guide them towards the right path so that they do not repeat them again. Even if they repeat the mistakes, we should not get hyper or angry because if we do, they wont come to us next time they have a problem. We should put ourselves in their shoes and then think for a solution that is best understood by them and suited to their problem. When I was a student, I troubled my teachers too. But they understood my problems and helped me overcome and correct the mistakes I made. In the same way, I am here to understand and teach my students to learn from their mistakes. I am not perfect and I guess nobody can be, as we are always navigating the path of learning.

Kanishk is a student of the class I taught last year. He is an excellent student - punctual and hard working. Once he came to me with a problem as he could not understand the question. Though I explained it several times, he just couldn't follow. This annoyed me and I shouted at him for not understanding the concept. It had a very negative impact on him. He scored the lowest in the class test the next day. I walked up to him and asked him why he hadn't studied. He started crying and said that he feared I would become annoyed at him again, due to which he lost the courage to come up to me and ask again. Deep within I realised it was not his mistake but mine that he could not come to me. The better way of handling it would've been to explore other ways of explaining the concept to him in a patient manner.

Acceptance gives us the opportunity to communicate better with children and deal with them more patiently. It gives them confidence and encourages them to work on their flaws.

~ Vimmy Rajpurohit is an Educator at The Fabindia School. Her email address is vrt4fab@gmail.com 

Brewing Knowledge Weekly