Principals on Board

Staying relevant is a constant. Educators share their personal targets for the year ahead… Part 1

Nichola Pais
Staying relevant is a constant. Educators share their personal targets for the year ahead… Part 1

School leaders play a key role in developing and supporting teaching and learning in their schools, and in managing processes, systems, staff, and students. It is a complex and challenging job, yet most principals agree that it is enjoyable and rewarding. All educators agree that in today's fast moving world it is essential to keep on upgrading one's skills to be prepared to handle the ever increasing learning needs of their students and teaching staff. Here we share what educators say they would like to learn in 2018:

“Coding is No.1 on my ‘Learn Something New’ list”

Supriti Chauhan
Principal, Raghav Global School, Noida

Call me outdated, prehistoric or from the land of dinosaurs; I can take it. But redundant is not something I take myself to be, especially when I am dealing with young learners and want to learn everything along with them.

Trying to know what interests the young learners brings me to what has been tickling my interest – Coding, and it gets more interesting with everything that I have been reading about it. I think the learner in me is never going to fade away. The closest I’ve come to the world of programming was a few computer science classes I took in school. My impression of computers is that of intimidating, sophisticated machines, handled only by engineering wizards! It is the idea of setting up a Code Club for young learners in our school that has inspired me to learn more about coding, computing and digital making. I am already tinkering with Tynker and MIT’s Scratch; apps that teach programming concepts. So, I’d rather be known as a ‘Tech-savvy Dinosaur!’

One may ask, shouldn’t other skills like critical thinking, logic reasoning, and problem solving, be reinforced before teaching a child the steps to coding or programming. My take - let the reinforcing of others skills go hand in hand with something that the future is moving to. The point here is not whether to teach children how to code or not, but to introduce them to a concept that has a growing importance in our technology driven, ever evolving world.

When I remember my own arduous introduction to computers, I cannot help but welcome the idea of having children learn about it as a delightful preference. I am very excited to initiate  a Coding Club for young learners at our school, I did my homework on it and I think coding is at number one on my 2018 ‘Learn Something New’ list (I have a long wish-list)!

For future generations, coding skills will be of profound importance. When computer programs run our world, then why not learn and tame them to make things more convenient and seamless. Knowing coding builds creativity and reasoning skills, while simultaneously learning how devices that surround us can be used as flexible assistive learning tools rather than just gaming or browsing mediums. It is time we move with the young learners.

“A better facilitator than merely a teacher”

Sonal Ahuja
Director, Shri Ram Foundation Preschool

Education-wise, 2017 has been a year of reflections for me. As an educator and an early childhood expert, I asked myself many questions. I pondered over the true qualities of a professional practitioner… Are we there to teach children? Are we there to direct them? Are we there to make them capable enough that they reach our expectations? Are we there to make children better persons? Have we taken our jobs too seriously?

The answer to these questions was yes, we are doing it all but it wasn’t effectively bringing in change. This led me have conversations with children who studied in different schools. ‘What do you think a teacher should do, teach?’ I asked. To my amazement, I was asked in return: What is likely to happen if you were to give up this belief and give us the right and might to learn by ourselves? What if you were just there somewhere in the classroom - available as a resource - if we happen to need some guidance? What if, when we do come to you for guidance, you refuse to offer it? Rather you show us the immense resource we have inside us. What if, when we ask you to teach us, you point us to peers who can do an equally amazing job of teaching?

What if, when we are totally lost, you also get lost (from the room)? Left high and dry, we will then push ourselves to further create what we will need all our lives - abilities - to solve, to ideate, to understand, to assimilate, to correlate, to beat ourselves. What if we give up and that is the occasion you do not give up on us? You hit us back: you do not make it easier for us, you make it more exciting for us - you bring in more ingredients, you add new twists to the tale and yes, you twist our tails too. What if you make us accountable - not just to ourselves - but also to the whole class? All ensuring that all have learned whatever was to be learned. And more!

This is what I would like to learn and spread, as a teaching skill in 2018. I would like to train myself to become a student rather than a teacher. As a practitioner I would also like to accept my children as my colleagues. What if running a class were to become a cooperative endeavour?

When I see kids as kids, I always try to control them. But if I see them as co-workers then we ALL transform into a team of raring professionals out there to conquer every learning peak! One team takes on the onus of teaching. Another team will manage the projects. One more will take care of homework and yet another, of tests (preparing, administering and checking). There will be a team to take care of the learning environment by doing research, making and displaying posters and distributing trivia on the topic of the week.

I know as an educator, if I start sharing responsibilities with my kids, things will not work fine. They will make mistakes, they will omit, forget, mismanage and even be completely irresponsible. But can I just see the opportunity for more effort, more challenges and more growth? Can I also shift from making them a better person to making them better at knowing how to become a better person? Can I also leave them to assess themselves, praise themselves? Can I just be with them, accept them, forgive them, laugh and cry with them?
It is not about doubting myself or my skills; rather it is about just being a student and learning a few more skills not only to improve teaching but also to become a better facilitator. Have a reflective 2018 too!

“Equipping students for an unpredictable future”

R Karthik Naidu
Founder Director, White Petals Schools

Teaching has been the most important part of education. Currently with the access to technology, students don’t come to school only to learn, instead they are here to experience, experiment and evolve as individuals.

As per my prediction, 2018 would be a year with some of the biggest changes in the field of education. There is going to be a lot of technology which will be collaborated for better understanding and learning of the students.

As an educationist I believe that learning skills should be more practical and connected to the real world. We at our school have introduced a new session which will have regular discussions only on the current developments and future predictions. This would surely give us an insight into the minds of future leaders.

The next decade is unpredictable for most of us, as to what future jobs offer, how businesses work or even how the education system functions. As an educator, I strongly believe in equipping students with wings by giving them a platform and letting them choose the direction to fly.

“The Cloud and Compassionate Motivation”

Dr Harleen Kaur
Founder Principal, Mount Carmel International School, Ambala

The future is about access, anywhere learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. For me, the future of technology in education is the cloud. Technology can often be a barrier to teaching and learning. I think the cloud will go a long way to remove this barrier. So our school will plan and learn how to use cloud successfully. As cloud computing will remove the number of things that can go wrong like loss of exam data etc., all we will need is a fast robust internet connection. No software installed, servers or local file storage. Teachers can use the cloud to set, collect and grade online.

Students will have instant access to grades, comments and work via computer or tablet. Many schools are already doing this, and I want to start the same in my school also. School classrooms are going to change, as technology will be integrated into every part of the school. In fact, it won’t be just the classrooms which will change but, whether offsite or onsite, the school teachers, students and support staff will all be connected. In my ideal world, all classrooms will be paperless. I definitely think that with cloud, the world will be our classroom.

As a teacher, I follow and keep advising my staff also to follow Compassionate Motivation which means, as a teacher we motivate our students to do well in studies but if we are compassionate towards our students, if we really feel from within that the child is not doing well in academics and he/she will suffer, then we can communicate better with them. If I genuinely feel for the student, I will be able to motivate him/her better. As a teacher, the cultivation of compassion is an important part of daily teaching practice in our school. It’s one all educators should follow.

This is a special feature published in the December 2017 issue - "Skilling up for 2018!", which we are sharing as a two part series.

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