Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Change Unlimited Inc - Kalyani Chaudhuri

 “Never stop learning as life never stops teaching.”

March of 2020 will be written as a red-letter month for the World Education Systems.  Slowly and steadily when the Coronavirus was unleashing its tentacles to take the whole humanity into its clutches, little did we know what lay in store for educators in the coming months.  Nine long months have passed, the season has changed to winter from summer. But, have we been able to enjoy the autumn and are we looking forward to spring?  Well, metaphorically speaking, the whole duration has been that of a cold and cruel winter eagerly awaiting the spring.

Education has not stopped in our country as it hasn’t in the rest of the world.  How successful have we been in imparting knowledge through the digital medium?  Have the tall claims of ‘holistic education’ been honestly met? 

The life of educators has only been a rough road to ride.  The challenges for both the educators and the Head of the Institution have compounded to an explosive limit.  The most challenging ordeals for us have been:

  • Digital Transformation
  • Fee recovery
  • Emotional well-being of students, teachers and parents

Our faculty underwent rigorous training for the new learning management system, Google Classroom, from an EdTech trainer in April and May.  Attending each session with the educators made me realise both its potential and challenges as it was very new for me.  Reading up on the internet and watching supporting videos started clearing my head to formulate a clear pathway ahead. The second step was to form a Tech-Savvy Team with the educators who knew a little more about technology and were keen on exploring further.  A group of four educators were assigned to each TST member for 24/7 assistance.  

Webinars and workshops by experts on Technology in education from India and abroad came to my rescue to equip the team with all available tools.  The task was daunting but achievable.  It was a real acid test for every faculty member to understand the usage of these tools.  Many were into this for the first time.  The initial months were a nightmare for educators as they had to work extra hours to get tech ready.  Devices posed another mammoth challenge.  Space crunch at home was a topping on the tech-fiery ice-cream.  We began to understand it better.

The three steps involved in the process simplified our task.

  1. Mobilise
  2. Stabilise
  3. Strategize

We started curating Teaching-learning aids that would help us understand the learners ‘progress and map it well.  Quality of the Academic content and the delivery was of utmost importance as the educator was not only teaching the student but the entire family.  Training sessions as per needs were recommended and conducted, and the leadership team took the onus of the digital transformation.

These three steps worked in our favour with regards to fee recovery too.  We mobilised an internal recovery team.  Giving the time we needed to be understanding and soft in our approach.  Strategies to ease the burden were formed and well accepted by our patrons.  Though it’s still a long battle, we are positive that things will turn around. 

Happy calling was initiated by the Principal’s office.  Each and every family was given a call to check on their well being and needs.  It helped us know their challenges a little more and work on making things achievable for all stakeholders.  Educators were advised not to work after 4 p.m.  Their family time was never intruded into planning meetings.  Initially, they all cooperated to put the tech train on the tracks.  Once the journey began, we started getting used to the demanding routine and rigorous back end support work.  Their physical and emotional well being was taken care of by introducing exercise classes and ‘no work talks sessions’.  

The Student Council emerged as another pillar of strength for the institution.  Gen Z took it upon their stride to plan and host engagement activities for the entire student and parent and teacher community.  Celebrations ensued as we kept admiring our future caregivers’ resilience and tenacity. 

The three Cs ‘coordinate, correlate and collaborate’ lifted us from the doom that we had plunged into at the beginning of this ordeal.  Life creates ample opportunities for posing challenges.  It’s to us whether we wish to remain victims of the challenges or master them.

All’s well that ends well. Sustaining these new and effective strategies will determine our future successes.  The potential of blended learning has just seen the light of the day in our country.  A robust system in the upcoming NEP implementation should help ensure equity among learners across our country's geographical and social diversity.

Hoping to see our students returning to campus with exuberance and vibrance. The giggles and laughter much awaited in the now desolate campus.  I say goodbye, COVID-19, welcome 2021! Thank you, COVID-19, for making us stronger, smarter and gentler.

‘The world is changed by your example, not your opinion’.

Paul Coelho

Kalyani Chaudhuri

Principal Billabong High International School, Thane

Member Advisory Board Learning Forward India Director My Good School

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