Principal Speaks...

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Education- the means not the end

This pandemic has been a teacher of sorts. Although people around the globe are fretting over all the deaths and the economic catastrophe because of the virus- Covid-19, the Education fraternity would believe that it has taught us to equip ourselves with skills for the future. As we move towards an unknown world, the changes are so quick and radical that as an educator, I feel I must build at least a few tools that will guide my students towards driving their learning in the future. I agree with this quote by Lincoln which is- ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it’. As a leader, building a culture that I seek in my school is an interesting challenge- A culture wherein all my students take charge of their learning; where there are only two categories of students, the ‘developed’ learners, and the ‘developing’ learners. 

‘Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other’- J.F.Kennedy. It began with learning to use the virtual portal for Curricular instructions. We had to quickly adapt to the demands of students and make a place for an altered academic programme, lesson plans, assessments, and learning activities, all centred around the remote learning model; being aware that teacher involvement is not going to be as much as it would be in a face-to-face learning model. As suggested by experts, we started the process of ‘Unlearning’, ‘Learning’ and ‘Re-learning’. Webinars around the globe by education experts helped gauge what should be the priority. I guess it was simple to understand that effective planning alone can promise seamless implementation. The ‘Backward planning’ strategy by Mc Tighe was a boon in such circumstances. It helped us shift the focus of the curriculum to ensuring that key concepts required for every age group is given to students to make them next grade ready; The quantum not being the key, but the quality of instruction being the key. We downsized the portions to what was achievable in the academic year, bearing in mind dynamics like advisable screen time, timetabling across the day, number of hours of engagement in a week and co-curriculars to be offered. After the initial planning was through, teachers had to be trained and guided to the new approaches which included-

⦁    Lesson planning to incorporate key concepts.
⦁    A platform for delivery of online sessions- MS Teams
⦁    Tools for teaching- Audiovisual material 
⦁    Interactive tools for online delivery 
⦁    Incorporating activities in the lesson plans which can be done by students or demonstrated in the virtual classroom. 
⦁    Checking students' work and giving feedback using online tools 
⦁    Redesigning Formative Assessments 
⦁    Modifying Summative Assessments to suit the online mode.

A good mix of co-scholastics like Dance, Music, Yoga, Physical Fitness, Art, and Craft was also planned in the virtual curriculum, the primary purpose of which was to give a chance for maximizing interactions in young children. The last one year of learning has been equivalent to that of many years for most of us as educators. Students have also come a long way having to dabble with multiple ways to seek information, which is significant of 21st-century education where students may take up courses online alongside school education. Students may be able to supplement their traditional classes with online courses as needed and can accelerate their learning, seek remediation, or pursue new subjects from a wide range of courses that are not offered in the traditional campus. The World Economic Forum report suggests that online learning has shown to increase retention of information and that it takes less time to acquire the same. This probably is good to hear, however, the challenges in our country are way too many-

⦁    Connectivity and access to devices
⦁    Parents facing stress owing to their work and attention to children.
⦁    The non-reliability of the Summative Assessments 

Despite all the challenges, responses from stakeholders- parents, and students have been very encouraging. Students have been more than helpful in guiding teachers towards the usage of different applications and parents can recognize the efforts of the teachers and have accepted that it is no menial job to teach. Teachers are cognizant of the fact that it is time they become facilitators and educators since they do not have direct control in the classroom that they once had. The ‘I teach, you learn’ system has been replaced by the ‘I guide, we learn’ ideology. 
As we learn, education provides us with multiple adaptive skills, and we can never be done with it. Education is not the destination; it is the means to achieve the desired goal.

- Ms. Priya Ramakrishnan