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Recruitment Expert Annie Natarajan’s Guide To Selecting The Right School Teacher Post COVID

There are certain non-negotiable facts such as safeguarding & background checks and accurate job descriptions, but apart from these, how you recruit is dependent on your school’s needs, your mission, vision and values, and brutally, your budgetary constraints

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‘And of course, they’ll need a PHD.' I found myself looking puzzled at the school's HR lead as we discussed a job description and person specification for their vacant Head of Senior school post. As a School Development Consultant, I assist schools with everything from restructuring teams to coaching to recruitment. As a consultant, you are in the privileged position of being able to challenge a school to think outside of its norms. I frequently warn potential clients ‘I will tell you what you need to know, which may not be what you want to hear.' My role is to get the organisation to where they want to be, and that usually means them reflecting on current practice, and moving it in a different direction or changing it entirely. That reflection can be painful for some, and for others, a liberating experience that takes a school to the next level of its journey.

So, back to my colleague who wanted a PhD as an ‘essential’ item on the Education section of the Person Specification. After much discussion, he admitted that as a school, they had always looked for PhD graduates for senior posts as they felt it was an indicator of the candidates’ intellectual capacity. Many support staff, such as this HR Manager, do not have backgrounds in the classroom, so it is often the default position to think that the more qualifications someone has, or the longer they have been in an institution, the likelihood is that they will be a ‘better’ candidate.

Loading The Dice In Your School's Favour

The reality is that higher academic qualifications are no indicator of an individual’s capacity to teach or indeed to lead. M.Eds and PhDs are certainly an indicator of someone’s intellectual capacity, commitment to continuing to learn or of subject knowledge, but they aren’t evidence of someone’s skill to inspire a group of Class 12s or an ability to lead a team to greater heights. Similarly, tenure is often valued over capacity or capability. Given the school in question wanted to improve its exam results, we agreed that a PhD would be ‘desirable’ rather than ‘essential.' The school eventually did appoint a candidate with a PhD, but more importantly, the candidate was an incredible leader who was able to inspire the team to really begin to develop their teaching and learning, and with that, of course, raise Class 12 results.

There is no magic bullet to recruitment. There are certain non-negotiable facts such as safeguarding & background checks and accurate job descriptions, but apart from these, how you recruit is dependent on your school's needs, your mission, vision and values, and brutally, your budgetary constraints! COVID-19 has thrown in its own challenges to schools and recruitment (alongside the evergreen challenge of finding quality candidates) is another area such as online learning that will need institutions to really reflect on what best practice will look like. Whether you need a Class 1 teacher, a Principal or even a CEO, always consider the following comments and questions when looking to recruit:

1. When a school loses a much-loved or respected member of staff, the first instinct is to jump to recruiting a replacement. An expected resignation at the end of a session is a great opportunity for a school to take stock of how a section or department is functioning and perhaps look to change things or indeed a confirmation that how things are working is fine. Mid-session resignations can be more tricky, but an interim appointment can give you breathing space to consider how things may look in the following academic year.

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2. Job Description/Person Specification: If recruiting is deemed, the next wise step is to review the Job Description (what duties this role requires) and Person Specification (the experience and education needed for the role). Education and especially Board and curriculum requirements change frequently. Often candidates tell me they are left hanging after interviewing, not knowing whether they have been successful. Before posting the advertisement, it’s a good idea to agree on a timeline and stick to it! More than one school I know have lost out on great candidates or had to postpone their joining because of lack of timely communication. 

Consider the following questions: 

  • Do we need this post? Do we have internal candidates who could fill it?
  • Are the current Job Description and Person Specification ‘fit for purpose?'
  • What kind of experiences does the candidate need to have? Or, is this role suitable for a new entrant as well?
  • Where will we advertise? Locally? Newspapers? Websites?
  • What's our timeline to complete the process?
  • What does that look like? Onsite interviews? Psychometric tests? Think process rather than people.

3. The Interview: So, you have a fresh pile of applications on your desk. What next? How you whittle down that pile can be a challenge in itself. It is rare to find a candidate who meets every single part of your Job Description and Person Specification. My rule of thumb is that anyone who meets around 80% of it is probably worth looking at seriously. Prior to COVID-19, I would always suggest meeting candidates in person and with teaching roles, seeing a demonstration lesson. When asked about recruitment Abha Adams, well-known educationalist, told me ‘Seeing the person in the flesh is essential. You need to see what makes them tick, online-only interviews distort your perspective of the candidate’. For senior candidates, you might give them a written exercise such as planning a curriculum change or scenarios that they might face in their role and learn how they’d tackle them. Another consideration that does not fit neatly into tick boxes is how you feel the candidate will fit into your institution and current team. They may be an amazing teacher with stellar references, but if you don’t feel they are a fit for your team, be brave, and pass.

Consider the following questions: 

  • What will this process look like? Who will be key drivers and decision-makers?
  • What questions will you ask to ascertain if their vision and values fit with your organisation?
  • Onsite: demo lessons? Stakeholder interactions? Are you even going to bring them onsite?
  • Have you done your due diligence and asked for written references before bringing them onsite?

4. Post-Interview Process: Congratulations! You found your candidate. What is crucial for you now is to refrain from wasting time and money on the post process. I find reference requests vary from pages and pages covering everything from curriculum knowledge to standards of dress or just a few pertinent questions. Whichever format you choose, it's essential to follow up with a phone call to an office number (not on mobile, please!) to confirm the reference and the referee is who they say they are.

5. Induction: This is often overlooked with the new colleague being thrown into the deep end, especially for more seasoned ones. The expectation of giving them the staff handbook and letting them get on with it is misguided. Whether new to the profession or an old hand, a thorough induction to the organisation will reap dividends. Shiv Nadar School's Head of People, Culture and Operations, Arti Dawar, advises ‘Take time with induction for new colleagues regardless of their experiences. You will have a much more settled colleague who is able to impact more effectively on the children they teach or teams they lead. It’s an investment worth making.'

Agree on CTCs and contracts well in advance of a commencement date alongside any probation period and you should be on track for a successful appointment.

Consider the following questions: 

  • Safeguarding: have you followed up with phone calls and checked the veracity of the referee? Referees should be line managers, and not colleagues and or personal friends
  • Have you discussed and agreed on the CTCs? Have you proofed the previous CTCs?
  • What will their induction period look like?
  • Is there a probation period? This should be a formality, but are you prepared to ‘let them go?’ If yes, what should your back-up plan look like?
  • What further training they might need?

Implications of COVID-19 on Recruitment For Schools

As educators, we are entering a brave new world. Schools in India have risen to the challenge of online teaching, fiscal concerns and a host of other issues specific to each institution. Recruitment, as of now, is a whole new animal. Many schools have put essential roles on hold and in some cases, withdrawn offers. Moving on, it's likely that there will be a blended approach to learning with classes in person and online dependent on local requirements. When recruiting teachers, veteran educationalist Ashok Pandey, Director of Alchon International Schools, believes that the most in-demand candidates will be ‘those with remote teaching skills, confident in communication and genuine technical skills.' These, of course, will be the hardest to find. A challenge but not impossible.

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Possible Solution

Regardless of how the next 12 months pan out for schools, recruitment will always be a challenge. Keep your vision, mission and values in mind alongside how your decisions will impact on the children in your institution at the forefront of how you recruit. Whilst there are no guarantees in life or recruitment, this should load the dice in your favour.

Annie Natarajan is Director of Recruitment and Development at Nehru World School, Ghaziabad. She is the Founder of Flying Patang, School Development Services.

(All opinions expressed in the article are her own)

Knowledge

What is Hybrid/Blended Learning?

We are lifelong learners and need to keep pace with the fast-paced technology so that our students are ready to take the next leap. Our classrooms have to echo that thought and vision at all times through new pedagogies and teaching-learning strategies.

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The COVID wave – consider it a bane or boon – but it somersaulted us to an array of digital world experiences. It propelled us to rethink and reorganize our mindsets, our practices, and our expectations. Overnight, we moved from an offline teaching mode to online, and credit to the teaching community for doing it so seamlessly. Now, we are back to offline teaching but do we continue with our old practices?  An obvious no so we need to infuse our online experiences within the offline to ensure that quality education reaches one and all.

One key pedagogy to achieve the goal is blended learning, an approach that combines face-to-face learning with online learning incorporating certain elements that support students to have control over the pace, time, and place. The material resource investment is minimal but human resource investment is high till the ethos is assimilated within all.

So let’s understand the varied types of blended learning and its implementation in the school teaching-learning process.

1. Station Rotation

In Station Rotation, students will rotate on a fixed schedule as per the teacher’s discretion. The teacher begins her class of 40 students with instruction on narrative writing from 9:00 am to 9:15 am. She then splits the class into three groups where one group continues to learn with her. The second group works on a collaborative assignment on narrative writing and the third use their laptops or computers placed in the class and researches blended learning and after 15 minutes the group switches so that every group has varied experiences. A block class of English can support the various transactions and supports students to build research, collaborative and knowledge skills.

In the same format, if computers or laptops are not available in class then students use the computer laboratory in school and this rotation would then be called as Lab Rotation.

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In this methodology, all students with varied learning needs are supported. The only challenge is the Technology and time management skills.

2. Remote & enriched virtual learning

It is a course or subject in which students have required face-to-face learning sessions with their teacher of record and then are free to complete their remaining coursework remote from the face-to-face teacher. In class, the teacher gives a project to students on ‘Analysing any work of Shakespeare’s or Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwalla’ w.r.t. the criterion of plot, characters, theme, language, thought and values.

She briefs students on works of Shakespeare and the elements of a play within the school timetable and they complete all the work at home.

3. Flex blended learning

During certain weekends if the teacher wishes to support the students further in class especially if the concept has been challenging or students have underperformed in an evaluation, the teacher records her remedial teaching and uploads in-class computers. She designs a task around remedial teaching. She expects students to report to school wherein students enter the class on their own time, access the teaching, complete the task and leave. If they have any further doubts, they could approach the teacher in the school or their peers. A useful TIP would be for the teacher to Collaborate with their colleagues in club activities.

4. Flipped learning

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As per TeachThought, a flipped classroom is a type of blended learning where students are introduced to content at home and practice working through it at school. This is the reverse of the more common practice of introducing new content at school, then assigning homework and projects to be completed by the students independently at home.

This methodology is most useful when you want students to have some knowledge of the content before analyzing it further. So if a teacher wishes to conduct a ‘Book review’. She shares the e-book, 'Totto-chan' with the students. She asks them to read and shares certain discussion points. In school, students discuss the book and write personal book reviews. The teacher has used her class time constructively and has been to achieve greater learning outcomes.

5. Individual rotation blended learning

As per https://www.blendedlearning.org/models/, the Individual Rotation model allows students to rotate through stations, but on individual schedules set by a teacher or software algorithm. Unlike other rotation models, students do not necessarily rotate to every station; they rotate only to the activities scheduled on their playlists.

The teacher allows students to rotate through different kinds of classrooms called stations. A specific ILP [Individual learning plan] is created for each student. For example: Parth and Mona's examples work on clauses, Mona is struggling with Clauses so she attends classes and solves assignments whereas Parth will attend classes, watch a few videos, and also complete a research project on clauses. Thus the teacher knows her students' skills in greater depth and supports them individually to achieve her target learning outcomes.

6. Inside-out and outside-in blended learning

In Inside-out, teaching and learning begin inside the classroom and move to an outside environment and in an outside-in classroom, it begins in an outside environment and moves inside the classroom.  In a class environment, the Teacher discusses with students about ‘Sound of Music’ in class and ends the lesson by taking them to the theatre to watch the play. In Outside-In, Students watch the play in a digital environment and end the lesson in a physical environment by conducting role-plays.

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The list of models is many but one has to review their resources and plan accordingly.

One can mention that they may face challenges in terms of technology, lack of training on digital platforms, lack of resources to create self-paced learning environments, or time management with vast syllabuses to complete.

Certain tips that can come useful are:

1. Teachers can begin with easily available digital content like Khan Academy, Pinterest, discovery Education, PBS Learning Media, and much more.

2. Review the available resources and plan a timetable. Most importantly, a team achieves more so collaborate with your colleagues in club activities.

3. Take small simple steps – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu. Choose the model that you are comfortable executing and then move forward.

As teachers, we are ever-evolving and we are that one profession that creates more professions so our responsibility and accountability stretch beyond the classroom. We are lifelong learners and need to keep pace with the fast-paced technology so that our students are ready to take the next leap. Our classrooms have to echo that thought and vision at all times through new pedagogies and teaching-learning strategies.

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References:

Christensen Institute, Blended Learning definitions, https://www.christenseninstitute.org/blended-learning-definitions-and-models/

About the author:

Kavita Sanghvi holds a Masters in Physics, Masters in Education, Masters in Philosophy of Education, and CAEL [Certificate in Advanced Course in Educational Leadership] Diploma from Harvard University. She heads SVKM's CNM School, in Mumbai. She is a Teach SDG’s Ambassador, Climate Action Ambassador, and Scientix Ambassador for India. She is a British Council Trainer and Ambassador.

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Emerging Educational Trends: Experiential Learning

The pastures of Education need to be evergreen, sprinkled with the blooms and blossoms of the best ways to reach out to the tender, impressionable minds

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Vagrant vegetation punctuated with Gurukuls, learning inspired by the stalwarts of prudence and erudition; wit that has belied all darkness and dispelled doubts and indecision; times, undoubtedly, have changed and so are the needs but, what has persisted is to cater to the best to the posterity.

In more modern times when Gurukuls are remote possibilities to go back to, with plush and well-equipped seats of scholastic excellence coming up, it is essential to distill and not dilute. The essence of such ancient seats of learning should have hands-on activities as its nucleus.

Tagore's Shantiniketan is a modern-day Gurukul and here if not in form but in spirit Gurudev as a mentor had endeavored to sculpt the best by encouraging the idea of a project which is an amalgamation of collective ideas with each one contributing in one's own way uniquely, while promoting camaraderie.

The scholars were asked to offer a cue, a thought nurtured by life experience which later nourished them to one of their kind. Rabindranath tempered them into thinking individuals who might not be academically prodigy but knew the art of contributing socially while being self-reliant.

He was strictly against rote learning. What better examples of Experiential Learning could it be that this policy venerated by Tagore has created Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen, Oscar Recipient and the doyen of Indian Cinema Mr. Satyajit Ray and the composer of the national anthem of Sri Lanka Shri Ananda Samarakoon to name a few. Albert Einstein too believed in creating individuals who can think, judge, and act independently while remaining socially relevant and hence emphasized Experiential learning.

NEP, 2020 encapsulates the spirited thoughts of all acclaimed philosophers, educationists, and policymakers who have insisted repeatedly that every bud is unique with its own appeal. Hence it is no comparison but in rhythm with the true Indian spirit where the unity nestles all diversities like a rainbow that learning should survive.

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While the revamped educational policy has already started pealing the bells of high expectations, there are a plethora of nuances to be experimented on, with one being Flip Teaching. In this role reversal, students explore their knack for teaching which is a true augmentation of learning a topic before delivering in the presence of peers. Being an educator ups the performance thirst and bolsters confidence to unfold oneself in his or her own way while expressing pre-taught perceptional concepts with a new dimension. Nothing excites a student more than being engaged on a platform with the liberty to share and facilitate learning what he had once lapped up with his or her present audience.

Project-based learning would tap the innate or intrinsic beauties of a child, sharpen his skill befitting the 21st century, impart the real joy of learning together and bring him out of the predictable lines of contemplation. The outside world while entering the stereotypical classrooms where only scores matter, would propel a pupil to think out of the box, as the kid would understand the worth of interdisciplinary studies, being able to draw inferences from real life and the innovation and creative buzz would be robustly ringing in the corridors of a new young India.

It may sound clichéd but, is not it a stark truth that we as grown-ups remember when we do it? So it goes for a child too. From toddlers to adolescents, Flip teaching is an ideal way to learn by doing as it formulates a special equation and bonding between the pupils as when a child teaches a topic, he or she explains it in their own way and in their own vocabulary.

 

They communicate the topics not along the stapled path. There is not an iota of doubt that a child-educator can defenestrate the doubts and inhibitions which otherwise are challenging to meet with many a time for even a seasoned teacher. The comfort level can well do away with the hesitance to ask in fear of embarrassment or being adjudged. Just like the phone a friend in a popular Game Show here a child connects not only with the topic but is also able to grip and grasp the concept that he or she believes has been lucidly explained and hence, well understood by him or her.

The ease of sharing areas of doubt with someone of the same age inspires better teaching-learning. It peps up the eagerness to prepare the topic to be deliberated just as a public speaker or an orator would and in due process multiply the degree of understanding as it is when things would be clearly understood that they would be suitably deliberated. Flip Teaching is the heart-to-heart talk of a child to classmates. The role of being on and off the platform if not for all concepts at least for the arguably intricate ones would be greatly rewarding.

Feeling, and envisioning are much evolved as techniques for embracing ideas. When exposed to a persistent mode of theory learning a student may fumble and falter even the promptest ones as it is when a model is there as a real-life existence that a child absorbs effectively. The NEP would be a major learning indicator in this regard as from now onwards a child can from a wide range of new-age subjects pick and pursue. It is a blatant bitter truth that many professionals would become jobless as their job profiles would become obsolete since they had trained themselves in traditional subjects which had trained them as per the contemporary need and not for the requirement of times ahead. The Vocational Subjects, practical, hands-on experience-based subjects being part of the NEP bouquet is a bold step towards Experiential Learning as the student would be future-ready hence in tandem with futuristic essentialities. A pupil would not only accentuate his employability but slash the apprehension of abruptly becoming redundant, impertinent, and even a Cypher.

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The greatest merit of Experiential Learning is that it is a big boost to the concept based and not crams learning. Einstein in his famous speech on the completion of 300 years of Higher Education in America had opined on how Education is that which remains even after we have left School. Einstein's theory of Education had no place for facts and figures but for a reason, logic, and gripping the essence through real-life performance. A specialized person trained in theoretical aspects sans practical exposure can neither serve the society of which he is an integral part nor himself. It is high time that as Second Home or home away from home where the kids are spending a lion's share of their daily time, need to go all out for the successful implementation of the same in spirit and letter. A child learning from ‘work your way’ is unquestionably far more equipped than those who indulged in learning by rote sidelining the efforts to earn experience of doing in real circumstances.

With growing tension piling into the social fabric it becomes all the more vital that students should share to sharpen their knowledge and get inspired by the idea that it is together they can grow better. The universal job market is emphasizing practical knowledge more than theoretical and so it should be the elementary obligation of Schools to insist on activity-based learning. As institutions of scholastic splendor, it should be imperative to ensure that students while learning even languages should have exposure to the practical application. Mere preparation to score marks would not facilitate in the long run so to stay longer in the run for excellence the millennial need to be imparted knowledge that can yield results in personal and social arenas. Experiential Education would not only redefine the existing orthodox approach to education where the crux is a marks enriched report card but now it would be the practical way forward to a star-studded larger report card of life.

Education needs and has to evolve and revamp in perfect tandem with changing times. The learning gap, loss of teaching days in many parts of the land, and unstable virtual community connectivity have been responsible for an irreparable loss for a large section of the student community during the pandemic. Hence, it becomes all the more important to innovate, and design activities that would engrain the notions of the different subjects so that the road ahead becomes less bumpy if not an absolute smooth sail.

In the post-pandemic scenario, it has become a compulsive necessity to resort to ways and means where the foundation can be curated to a robust offing.

Flip Teaching is a novel technique that is gradually picking up with the academicians as the output has turned out to be rewarding and synergic. The invisible girdle that encircles a child during the set Classroom Teaching can be smoothly done away with Flip Teaching. With a pinch of salt, the concerned educator too gets to realize what more needs to be done with his or her imparting of lessons. So it is also a lesson to be grasped by the teacher while the tables are turned and the student steps into the shoes of the teacher. Can as a stakeholder of the World of Academics one afford to overlook the fact that teachers' expressions used are at times unpalatable for the kid which when explained by a co scholar would be simple but certainly undiluted.

It is difficult to be simple and it happens with adults that they fail to comprehend the perception and exposure of a child and Flip Teaching in such cases can be a major relief.

Experiential Learning has been in vogue for a long in the West and in a few pockets of the East but now it is high time to pull up socks and take the big plunge for it is now or never.

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The pastures of Education need to be evergreen, sprinkled with the blooms and blossoms of the best ways to reach out to the tender, impressionable minds and it is the sanctimonious obligation of every Educator to live up to the expectations and dynamic demands of fleeting time.

About the author:

Dr. Sunita Vashistha is the Principal of Maheshwari Girls Public School, Jaipur. She's a visionary school leader having 27 years of experience in Teaching and Education Administration. She has been twice Felicitated by the Ministry of HRD (now Education) for outstanding CBSE Results.

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Teaching Online: How Some Online Classes Can Be More Effective Than Offline Classes

I hope to have shown how online classes are not always just a burden imposed when schools have to close, but can actually be pedagogically advantageous, enhancing the teaching and learning process in certain ways.

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During the Covid-19 Pandemic, teachers everywhere quickly adapted to online forms of teaching and learning. This transition took place with great willingness, effort, and skill on the part of teachers – but rarely with genuine enthusiasm, for understandable reasons. Online teaching was viewed mostly as a necessary obligation precipitated by the unprecedented circumstances; a burden to tolerate only for the duration of the crisis before returning to face-to-face lessons at the earliest opportunity.

Negative feelings towards online learning are perfectly valid. Teaching online classes requires working with different pedagogical approaches to what teachers are accustomed to in a physical classroom. Long hours behind a screen can cause fatigue, and it is difficult to maintain students’ attention when they are not physically in their teacher’s presence. Students also have variable connectivity and device access, and while learning online they miss out on the essential socio-emotional development that comes from being in a real-life environment with their peers and teachers.

However, it must also be recognised that certain elements of online teaching can actually be advantageous compared to offline teaching. In this article, I wish to elaborate upon some of the ways in which online classes can be viewed as pedagogically superior to offline classes. Recently, there has been a lot of talk of ‘hybrid learning’ being the future of education. By understanding the ways in which online classes can enhance the process of teaching and learning, it becomes clearer how hybrid learning can be a beneficial direction of travel for the education sector.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is an important part of quality teaching and learning. It enables teachers to quickly check the extent to which a class has understood a lesson, resolve misunderstandings quickly, and provide targeted feedback. For students, it keeps them alert and attentive in a low-stakes manner, improving their motivation and helping them with clearer learning goals and targets. In a physical classroom, teachers can perform quick checks for understanding in various ways: requesting a show of hands, having students write down an answer to a question in large writing and hold it up for the teacher’s view, or even more innovative methods such as the use of clicker devices through which students can respond to multiple-choice questions.

All of these methods have their limitations: the visual checks are rarely comprehensive or completely accurate, gathering formative assessment data is often a time-consuming manual process, and the classroom technology for formative assessment is often cumbersome and impractical to use, as well as expensive. In an online class, however, formative assessment can be both easier to conduct and more effective. Teachers have tools at their disposal through which they can have students complete a short quiz or type responses to a question. This generally takes up less class time, makes it easier to ensure participation by all students in a class, and yields more accurate data that is instantly presented to the teacher, which they can use to give feedback in real-time. For these reasons, formative assessment can be a more successful activity in online lessons as compared to physical lessons.

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Content Integration

Another powerful feature of online teaching is the ability to seamlessly integrate learning content. In an offline class, too, it is of course possible to use content through a projector or interactive board. However, in an online class, there can be two layers to the content: the teacher and the students may view different panels simultaneously. It, therefore, becomes possible for a teacher to follow a lesson plan or script while delivering a lesson, in a manner that is hidden from the students – for example, a sidebar on the screen displaying text prompts to the teacher.

This may not be an advantage in higher-end schools, where pre-packaged or scripted lessons can limit the creativity and independence of teachers to plan their own lessons and incorporate innovative lesson ideas. However, in other strata of the education sector such as low-fee private schools, where it is not always possible to employ skilled, well-trained teachers, assisting teachers with a pre-scripted lesson can be the most effective way of improving the quality of lesson delivery. And even in higher-end schools, the method can be useful to support new and trainee teachers, underperforming teachers, or substitute teachers.

Metadata

The generation and collection of metadata – subtle background information about a class – is possible when conducting online classes on certain platforms. Analysis of this data can yield valuable insights about students and teachers, which are not possible to gain in a physical setting. For example, by storing data on microphone usage during classes it becomes possible to track the amount of ‘talk-time’ the teacher occupies versus individual students, how many times different students speak in a class and for how long, etc. When analysed over time, this data can reveal patterns about how interactive classes are, the extent to which different teachers encourage class participation, how much different students contribute to classes, and more – all highly valuable information that can be used for school improvement, and which would not exist in offline classes.

It is also possible to automatically monitor the type of device a student is using, how frequently they join a class late, how stable their internet connection is, etc. This is useful information for knowing about students’ home situations, and potentially even for understanding the root causes of behavioural problems students might be exhibiting. This data can enable schools and teachers to more accurately interpret problems and make necessary interventions to assist students who are struggling both academically and behaviourally.

Lesson Observations

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In many good schools, lessons are frequently observed by a range of stakeholders: principals, middle-level leaders, peer teachers, or in larger school chains representatives from centralised departments. In less progressive contexts, the purpose of these observations is basic accountability, such as monitoring that a teacher is attending class and delivering the syllabus she or he is supposed to be. In more progressive schools, observations are an important element of school improvement: they are used to identify the professional development needs of teachers, are the basis of coaching cycles, are a mechanism through which teachers can support each other to implement shared practices, and are a data source used in the evaluation of teachers’ performance.

When a school is running its lessons online, it becomes possible to conduct far more frequent classroom observations. Busy school leaders who otherwise would not have time to visit a lot of classrooms can keep classes running in the background while they sign paperwork; observers can seamlessly hop between lessons without losing time in moving between physical classrooms, and the possibility is opened up of teachers and leaders across different schools in different locations observing each other and professionally developing collaboratively. In this way, learning opportunities for teachers are increased, and professional development can be made more individual-specific and actionable.

Parental Engagement

Ideally, education is not supposed to end with the school day but should be a continuous process that moves seamlessly between school, home, and other environments with parental support. In reality, unfortunately, this is rarely the case, as parents are not normally in a position to keep closely abreast of what is being taught in school and how their child is performing, and therefore are not easily equipped to directly support their child’s learning. Online classes, however, can help to shift this dynamic and make the ideal of continuity in education between home and school more likely to be achieved.

When a student attends an online class from home, the parent can observe from the background. Initially, when they gain the ability to witness classes, parents tend to develop a greater appreciation for the hard work teachers do and become more supportive. They also get to witness first-hand whether their child is engaging properly and how their child is performing in the class compared to other students. In offline classes, this is left entirely to the teacher, and parents can even be in denial if a teacher reports that their child is not engaged in class or not performing well. With online classes, parents get to see reality for themselves and are more likely to make appropriate interventions at home and be receptive to specific feedback and action points suggested by teachers.

By outlining these advantages of online teaching and learning, I do not at all mean to make the case that schools should move fully online. For all the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this article and more, online learning comes with a great number of disadvantages too and is often impractical. It will always be vitally important developmentally that children should spend the majority of time physically among their peer group.

However, I hope to have shown how online classes are not always just a burden imposed when schools have to close, but can actually be pedagogically advantageous, enhancing the teaching and learning process in certain ways. One of the motivations behind evolving a ‘hybrid’ model of schooling, in which some learning takes place face-to-face and other learning happens online, could be in order to spend a proportion of teaching time harnessing these advantages of online lessons that are unavailable in offline settings.

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About the author:

Roshan Gandhi is the Chief Executive Officer, City Montessori School, Lucknow

As Chief Executive Officer at City Montessori School (CMS) – the world’s largest city-school with 57,000 students across 18 campuses in Lucknow – Roshan Gandhi is leading organisational transformation and modernisation, empowering CMS's 4,500-strong team to deliver a bold new vision for quality skills-based education at scale. He has also overseen the overhauling of CMS's infrastructure, business operations, and tech integration. A graduate of the University of Oxford with an MBA in Educational Leadership from University College London (UCL), Roshan is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at UCL. He has worked in and continues to consult for multiple educational technology companies, is a frequent keynote and panel speaker at educational conferences, and frequently publishes on educational topics.

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Powered By Innovation, Education Prevails!

Using twenty-first-century pedagogy and innovative teaching methods and technology made it possible to safeguard the academic interests of learners by making education accessible in spite of all the challenges posed by the pandemic.

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Innovation is the lifeblood of education! Using twenty-first-century pedagogy and innovative teaching methods and technology made it possible to safeguard the academic interests of learners by making education accessible in spite of all the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Through innovative use of educational technology, the students’ interest was safeguarded by the adoption of hybrid learning in the Lawrence School, Sanawar. Today, there are a majority of students who have returned physically to the Campus however a certain number are still at their homes. It is therefore through physical as well as bespoke hybrid online interactions that the School ensures that no child is left behind, wherever they may be physically! Through technology, for those who are still at their homes and were not able to attend School physically a facilitated virtual real-time interaction has replaced much of the physical communication between students and instructors that was the norm pre-Covid. What this enables the School to do is to gainfully engage the remote students actively in online lectures and activities; and assimilate them into a living, breathing class by incorporating interactive technology and virtual components.

Truly, change is the only constant! And, when the entire world is going through myriad changes for better and for worse, how can School Education be left untouched? Indeed, that is exactly where school innovation and an agile pedagogy come into play. And, on which side of the conundrum one finds oneself on, in a period of global churning and challenge, will depend very much on the use of innovative methods of teaching and learning at School. 

The Lawrence School, Sanawar was witness to a wondrous phenomenon in which even after there were no students in the School buildings, learning never stopped because the School, through its dedicated and hardworking teachers and using cutting edge technology brought the syllabus and the curriculum home to the students. It began with assignments, went on to PowerPoint presentations followed by asynchronous teaching, and then, finally graduated to synchronous teaching via a brilliant remote learning program.

This was a year unlike any in the history of the 173-year-old The Lawrence School, Sanawar. Sanawar is a home away from home for all the children who are away from their parents and families for eight months a year. Consequently, the teachers and the pastoral care staff play a very significant role in the life of the children. The teachers and staff members are in loco parentis during the eight months that the children stay away from their homes. It is the teachers and the pastoral staff who provide moral support, care, sustenance even, and keep the children grounded and happy. Teachers at The Lawrence School, Sanawar do much more than merely teach. They serve as mentors, parents, friends, philosophers, and guides to the students. It is this very fact that is precisely the reason that leads to strong lifelong bonds between the students and the teachers who take on the persona of gurus for the children. It certainly was a very strong possibility that the teachers too, evacuated the campus once the children had left for their homes. So, did they do so?

No! During the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the teachers chose to stay back in the School and elected not to go back to their homes in faraway states including Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and West Bengal. They took online classes while residing in their official service accommodation because of the care and the affection they had for their students.

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When the children left on 18 March 2020, it was logical, natural and only to be expected that the teaching staff and the pastoral staff would logically leave the campus, once the children had been safely handed over to their parents. Instead, they chose to stay and attend professional development seminars so that they could ensure that they were equipped and competent to take online classes. Amongst the challenges we jointly faced during the implementation of these methods was the need to change mindsets, upgrade skill sets, and invest in increasing bandwidth as well as software and hardware.  Almost overnight, teachers who had been teaching in the classroom, some for more than 30 years, changed gears; unlearned and learned new ways to deliver the curriculum, and then re-learned so that they were competent and able to take online classes.

The School was witness to a wondrous phenomenon in which even after there were no students in the School buildings, learning never stopped because the School Team inspired by the School motto Never Give In carried on and bashed on regardless until they and their wards were through!  Of course, screen fatigue did set in but that was offset by the sheer joy that the pupils took in their online extra-curricular activities. The pros and cons of using technology for learning are well documented; the success of this innovation in learning was largely due to inculcating digital citizenship in all our stakeholders so that this had a positive impact on the community. And fine-tuning the programme in line with the feedback received from the stakeholders.

FVLP– Facilitated Virtual Learning Programme:

This was an innovative step in the face of the unprecedented global pandemic taken by The Lawrence School, Sanawar.

  • The School team was most determined that the education of the students not be impaired as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The School team took on the challenge and decided to deploy the Facilitated Virtual Learning Programme for the students virtually using cutting edge digital technology.
  • With the first ever online classes at Sanawar, the FVLP was launched on the 6th of April, 2020.

This deployment of innovative teaching methods via the FVLP had a very deep and extremely positive impact at our School.

  • Feedback from the Parents: 94% expressed a positive response to the FVLP.
  • Feedback from the students: 91% expressed a positive response to the FVLP.
  • Feedback from the parents: 94% expressed a positive response to the FVLP.
  1. On the 8th of July, 2020, Phase II of the Facilitated Virtual Learning Programme re-commenced after the summer vacation.
  2. Under the wise guidance of our Chairperson Mrs. Anita Karwal, the School integrated the Alternative Academic Calendar published by the NCERT for teaching–learning purposes into the FVLP. There were a veritable plethora of benefits of using this innovative remote learning programme at our School. Student learning was safeguarded as was their well-being, fitness, and self-enhancement pursuits. Not only did the School ensure that the academic side was looked after but also made provision for extracurricular activities including Hobbies and Sports. This ensured that even in the online education made available to students, the all-around education i.e. a hallmark of the School was not neglected.

The School also made available Counseling, Health, well-being, Debating, Collaboration with the UNODC on the Sustainable Development Goals, Model United Nations, Personality Development, Career counseling, and online programs including webinars to the students.

Some of the online events conducted were:

1.       Webinars on Emotional Wellbeing.

2.       Webinar on Know Your Headmaster.

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3.       Webinar on the Everest Expedition – 2013. 

4.       Webinar on presentation on The Lawrence School, Sanawar girls’ expedition to Mt. Kilimanjaro – 2019.   

5.       Webinar on Fall Semester 2020 in US and Canadian Universities: Panel Discussion.

6.       Online Zine making Workshop.

7.       Virtual Art Workshop.

8.       Virtual Inter House Sr English Debate

9.       3rd Edition of SNAMUN 20.

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10.    Senior English Declamation

11.    Hindi Poetry Recitation – Prep School

12.    Virtual Yoga Workshop.

13.    Hindi Sahitya Samaroh

14.    Cyber Security Workshop

15.    Webinar on series “Imagine & Inspire” with the Mentor Dr. Niti Pall.

16.    Webinar on series “Imagine & Inspire” with Mr. Parikshit Sahni.

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17.    Webinar on series “Imagine & Inspire” with Mr. Varun Sharma.

18.    Webinar on ‘Contribution of Indian Soldiers in World War-I with H.E. Ambassador Navtej S. Sarna.

19.    The Sanawar Literature Festival.

20.      The Collaboration between our students and the UNODC on the SDG’s.

The Lawrence School, Sanawar has weathered many a storm and endured against all odds since it was founded in 1847. It is this Never Give In credo that is the reason behind this great educational institution’s success. Many valuable lessons were learned from the trials and tribulations of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The efficacy of Sanawar is evidenced by the fact that it is the proud alma mater of many eminent men and women who have made their mark all over the world. And yes, it is definitely this very positivity, powered by a growth mindset and innovation that is the lifeblood of an institution that is ready to march towards its bicentenary!

About the author:

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Himmat S. Dhillon is the Headmaster of The Lawrence School, Sanawar. He was previously Principal & CEO of GEMS Our Own English High School, Fujairah since 2014. Prior to this, he was Principal of The Gandhi School, Jakarta, Indonesia from 2008 to 2013. An alumnus of The Lawrence School, Sanawar, he was formerly Head of the Department of English at The Doon School, Dehradun.

Mr. Dhillon is equally passionate about literature, travel, exploring culture, writing, nature, and swimming.

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Is innovation in pedagogy a function of “the purpose of education”?

The solution or the right substitute for rote learning is asking the right questions, not tough or too many questions, which cannot be answered by memorization.

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“He who has a why to live for can bear almost anyhow.”

Friedrich Nietzsche.

Due to the present trend of giving new terminology, names, or jargon to educational activities, we seem to be losing focus on the real deal. That’s why I think it is high time to do innovation in pedagogy, by rediscovering the “why” of Education. Without clearly understanding the why of education, the best possible, past and future, innovations in the “How of education” will not bring the desperately required change in today’s education.

Introduction

I often ask my peers, fellow academicians, colleagues, teachers, and parents a question. “Why do we teach?”

They come up with a variety of answers that range from finishing the syllabus, enabling a student to score better, getting good jobs, and getting future-ready. However, are these reasons in line with the learning outcomes developed by the NCERT or CBSE, or any other similar body?

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I have always believed that every bit of learning brings in a distinct change in the behaviour, way of life, philosophy, thought process, etc of a learner. A student who can write an excellent essay, give a speech, or debate on a healthy diet may herself have unhealthy food habits. Most teachers will say that the objective was to teach them about a healthy diet, and for the student to be able to write an excellent essay. On the contrary, I feel having a healthy diet is the purpose of teaching science rather than just scoring good grades in science.

Science teaching must enable students to develop scientific temperament, scientific aptitude & aptitude, logical thinking, curiosity, and courage to question and find answers to new questions. Similarly, the learning of mathematics must make students sharp mined, good at imagination, develop the sense of space and time, observation ability, believe in multiple ways to solve any problem in daily life.

The ‘why’ behind education is barely remembered through generations, while we incessantly work on the ‘how’. The 21st century is no different in this sense. We forget why education is needed in the first place, while we work on pedagogy, new tools, techniques, methodologies, and what else not. Looks like we are busy creating a large number of proofs of doing new things, rather than making that change permanent, instead of ensuring that the student is capable of implementing that teaching in their real life.  On top of it, most times we do this at the cost of burdening the students, unnecessarily, or of burdening the parents with extra expenses.

Purpose of Education

The most important question even today, in the 21st century, just like in our past, is – why educate people? What is the need for education? Is our education is preparing students for life? Or we are busy educating our children to score well in exams. While the majority of us educators, might say we educate for life, how confident are we? How often students with many documentary proofs of excellent performances in exams are equally happy, successful in life.

Consider this. If a child knows the solutions to all questions in the textbook on the topic of fractions and when her mother gives her half a chapati or she shares a bar of chocolate with her four friends, does she realize that she using the concept of fractions in her daily life? If not then probably, we have not fulfilled the very purpose of teaching mathematics.

The sole purpose of education is to prepare a child to face challenges, confidently, solve problems, efficiently, and be able to contribute positively to the family, society, country, and the world.

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Education v/s Proof of Education

At times we miss out on the very well-defined purpose of most of the educational activities like the teaching-learning process in the classrooms, homework, assignments, projects, assessments, tests, examinations, co-curricular & extracurricular activities, etc. It is of utmost importance to be completely aware of the ‘Why’ of any activity one does in the name of syllabus completion or holistic development.

Classroom interaction must revolve around the daily life experiences of the students, in and out of school. The unique and diverse experiences of students in my Physics classes were the most important and most effective resource for me to develop common sense and wisdom in my students.

In place of giving several questions to solve in the notebook as homework, we must ask students to solve a few in the class under our vigil. A thick, well-maintained, duly corrected homework notebook can be solid proof for many stakeholders but may have almost nothing to do with the expected learning outcome. Similarly, at times the written reports, practical records, home assignments, etc can be proofs of education but not the education itself.

The original, creative, and self-experience-based answer must replace mugged-up or crammed answers to already known questions.

All assessments must have questions that are not solved in the class or as homework. Let students solve a few questions on their own, by using learned concepts, not the memorized content or solutions of the questions. We may thus, not have a solid repository of proof, but we certainly will have students able to meet the required learning outcome.

Experiential Learning

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Almost all the topics in all the subjects up to class 10 in CBSE can be related to the daily life experiences of our students. It must not end up with students copying something from the board like answers or solutions to problems. Students need to learn how to solve problems rather than to learn solutions to a few important or tough problems.

To make learning experiential, taking students to the science lab or demonstrating some activity once a month is not enough or even the right type of experiential learning. The teacher needs to realize that every student keeps on experiencing and experimenting with life, all the time whether she is in school or outside.

If students are guided and trained properly, every experience from their daily life experience can become THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE. In other words, in place of teaching students’ subject matter, we need to teach them HOW TO LEARN.

We might talk of buzzwords like innovation, pedagogy, modern tools, and educational psychology, but we forget to read works like ‘Divaswapan’, ‘Totto Chan, and ‘Hanna’s Suitcase’. We need to understand that learning takes place all the time at all places. It is not limited to school or coaching classes. Textbooks or study materials can help someone score good grades in the present type of assessments, but the learning for life can happen only through real-life experiences.

If we look closely, learning as a process, has never stopped even when this world did not have language. It did not stop when countries were at war, when we did not have today’s technological advancement, even when the whole world was under siege in the pandemic, just because ‘life’ had not stopped. Therefore, it’s obvious that as long as life keeps happening, learning shall keep happening too.

Innovation is not in fancy jargon and costly teaching aids; it is in being able to bring school and real life together. Blended learning is not about blending online and offline, but it happens when we blend the personal experiences from the diverse daily lives of all our students in our classroom interactions on daily basis rather than just using technology.

Assessment

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In the context of ‘why’, as long as we keep on asking questions in our assessments, written or oral, which can be answered by memorizing, rote learning (temporary learning) will never stop and therefore permanent learning (learning for life) will not start. ’Knowledge’ does not only mean the memorization of facts, concepts, laws, formulas, or the proof of theorems and facts but it also includes the comprehension, understanding, and application of it all, in daily life.

Assessment must be designed to evaluate permanent learning rather than that of temporary learning. In place of orally asking three examples of vegetables, can we ask young ones to name three vegetables they had in the last week?  The first question may have the same three names written in the notebook or textbook from almost all students of the class. Whereas the second question may have a variety of answers at times, not just the three examples written in the book or notebook.

A few may even be new to the teacher at times. These answers will then be in sync with the learning outcomes of teaching the topic vegetables. The students won’t need to do any preparation, revision, etc. Students will be able to understand that there are questions that can be answered just by observing the life around them and that learning also takes place without books or notebooks, or even without a teacher, outside of the school.

If a student can realize that their daily life experiences outside school can also help them to understand the various concept taught in the classes, they will be consciously looking for learnings from every experience, 24X7.

Hence, the solution or the right substitute for rote learning is asking the right questions, not tough or too many questions, which cannot be answered by memorization.

Conclusion

We need to ensure that history doesn’t teach our children that it’s important to win wars; but that it’s important to not destroy fellow humans. We need to ensure that technology doesn’t teach our children just about what problems to solve by building an app; but also, which problems are worth solving. Biology shouldn’t be just about becoming a doctor; it should also be about creating an everyday health routine and avoiding sickness and embracing health in the first place. Finance shouldn’t be about just how to create more profits, but also about how to manage everyday expenses and savings.

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I am aware that I am perhaps leaving you with more questions than answers. But – What is innovation if it does not enable students (AND TEACHERS) to ask new questions and use the existing knowledge (not information) to discover and find answers to new questions? What is pedagogy, if learnings can’t be applied in solving problems of life?

So, let us find the ‘why’ of education and THEN innovate the ‘how’ of education, in line with that vision. Let me leave you with this parting thought by the modern-day Guru of innovation, Clayton M. Christensen, in How Will You Measure Your Life?’

“Resources are what he uses to do it, processes are how he does it, and priorities are why he does it.”

About the author:

Dr. Deep Khare, MBA, M. Sc. & Ph. D. (Physics), B. Ed. & M. Ed. (Regional Institute of Education, Ajmer) is presently Principal at Jodhamal Public School, Jammu.

He has 32 years of School education experience, started as a facilitator of Physics, continued the journey of learning as HOD Science, House Master at the Mayoor School (Mayo College, Ajmer), Master In-charge (Junior school) at The Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty, 9 years as Principal of Ivy League Academy, Hyderabad (Estd. 1988, a Full Boarding School), Founder Principal of National Public School, Gulbarga.

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Innovative Pedagogy in the School

Indian School Principals are entrusted with great responsibility; however, they need to include innovation in teaching and learning in place of simply imparting knowledge. Educational Leaders must encourage inquiry-based learning where students are prepared to explore, create and collaborate.

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How can faculty members include innovation pedagogy in the classroom and beyond the classroom? Many educational institutions, policymakers, and faculty members are asking questions in order to enhance Innovation in the classroom. CBSE has decided that the Principals of all schools shall be the pedagogical leaders of their schools.

Indian School Principals are entrusted with great responsibility; however, they need to include innovation in teaching and learning in place of simply imparting knowledge. Educational Leaders must encourage inquiry-based learning where students are prepared to explore, create and collaborate.

Merely declaring school Principals as Pedagogical leaders will not solve the problem, until and unless we prepare our teachers to use innovation pedagogy in their regular teaching to enable students to be a creator and innovators. You need good teachers who are passionate to make teaching-learning innovative, interesting, engaging, and experiential.

Reaching out to the learner’s community with creativity and innovation to enable them to deal with life effectively and come out with out-of-the-box thinking is the sole objective of innovative pedagogy. In order to achieve this, there are a few suggested activities we need to incorporate into our system. We need to recognize, appreciate and encourage creative teachers & their contribution in the classroom or beyond the classroom. How well a teacher manages the classroom is the primary determinant of how well the students learn.

There is maximum utilization of time in productive activities and all students are actively participating in the learning process. In the Classroom Soft Board/House Soft Boards/Departmental Soft Boards like Languages, Art, IT, Eco Club, and publication of school magazine is another platform for students to showcase their creativity and innovation. The school needs to provide opportunities and encourage maximum participation in various creative writing activities such as story writing, poem writing, and creative essay writing. Create awareness toward UN's sustainable goal of development, Health & Hygiene, Cleanliness, and Environmental awareness.

Utilize available infrastructure – Unused walls, IT Infrastructure, Activity room, Developing Kitchen Garden, Sports ground, Respect and know others culture, faith, language, food, and clothes

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Creative Opportunity and Best Practices at Star Public School

  • Language classes from 5th onwards are assigned to convert a lesson into drama.
  • During vacations, students are encouraged to write a travelogue.
  • 70 % of students of a class achieve academic excellence certificate in place of earlier system 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rank holders.
  • Parental participation in order to enhance creativity and aesthetics (Teachers informs the parents about upcoming activities, as a result, it has been observed that parent contributes actively and are involved).
  • We ensure that every student must undertake an online competition per term such as PCRA, World Wild Life Fund for India Quiz, TERRE, TERI, Mangahigh Mathematics Challenge, Aryabhatta Ganit Challenge, VVM, KAMP, NASO, etc.

NURSERY TO CLASS V

  • Development of speaking skills by participating in Morning Assembly, Observing and Celebrating Important days and Events.
  • Hands-on Learning by visiting the Activity room & Jodo Gyan Classes.
  • Narrating Stories, Coining New Words, Listening & Comprehending Activities.
  • Peer Learning.

CLASSES VI TO XII

  • Carving Creativity and Enhancing Aesthetics through unused walls.
  • Scientific Minds – Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan, KAMP Knowledge and Awareness Mapping Platform (KAMP), Solar Lamp Making, Solar Car Making in Collaboration with IIT Mumbai.
  • Mathematical Minds– Mangahigh games, Aryabhata Ganit Challenge
  • Art Minds & Painters– Carving Creativity and Enhancing Aesthetics through unused walls.
  • Vivid Readers – Fast Reading assessment and DEAR Time
  • Participating in Online & Offline Competitions like TERRE, TERI, Australian Chemistry, IIT Workshop, etc.
  • Concept Learning – Students are asked to sketch during the class based on the stories/explanation of the topic placed on a chart paper in the classroom. In this process class is able to collect ideas and points of view of the students based on their understanding. In this process, Art & Language teachers work together.

Best Practices for Educators at Star Public School

  • Teachers are encouraged to suggest creative ideas and to attend teachers’ training and workshop to enhance 21st Century skills.
  • Teachers are also encouraged to apply for State and National level awards and workshops.
  • They are also encouraged to participate in environmental projects and research works.
  • They are given financial support and sponsorship for short-term courses.

Creativity makes the change in every sphere of life. Civilization is an example of this. When this creativity helps to bring change to the teaching-learning process, it will definitely change the way of teaching by enhancing and inculcating the new way of learning. The modern way of teaching is not confined to the small compact room where everything is monitored by the teacher; it is illuminated by the little ray of creativity. To promote this conception Eleven Teachers from Star Public School had participated in Innovative Practice of Teaching and Evaluation organized by ‘CUSB Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching Award-2019 & 2020’ under the Scheme of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India in the Central University of South Bihar. The brief ideas about their innovation are enumerated below:

The innovation is Exploring Stories through Real World”. The activity is the enactment of the stories by the students. The pedagogic approach used is Experiential and Collaborative learning. This method engages students in critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, and finally reflecting.

The innovation is teaching stories through dramatization and radio play. The topic was “Clean the Environment through unity. The dramatization helps the students to understand the story clearly when they enact each character. The Radio play helps to improve students’ listening skills and understanding of the concept and the theme of the story.

The main idea of innovation is to engage the students in collaborative and peer learning on ‘Wall Murals’. The basic idea is Carving Creativity and Enhancing Aesthetics through unused walls”.

The innovation is teaching stories through the pictorial presentation of the character in the Lower Primary level like Story-telling weds Role-playing”. Interest and curiosity are the way children play the role of the character of the story. The method is collaborative learning.

The innovation is teaching Addition and subtraction through two coloured buttons”.  White colour buttons indicate Positive integers and Black colour buttons indicate Negative integers. A pair of Block and White colour buttons indicates Zero. The pedagogic approach used is Learning by Doing.

The innovation is teaching composition through the method of Creative Writing through Magic-Box, Cross-words, and Pictures”. The pedagogic approach used is peer learning. The warm-up session in the class helps to inculcate the spirit of creativity among the students.

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Innovation is taught through the method of “Playing with atoms”. The pedagogical approach used is Cooperative learning, Critical thinking, and diffusing knowledge through Collaborative working which gives the knowledge of Atomic numbers, Atomic masses of the Elements through the play.

The innovative topic is Unlocking Doubt-box with Peers”. The main attraction of the activity is learning MS Word 2010 through peers and summing up the activities collaboratively in the class and using the application of technology as an instructional aid.

The innovation is teaching through the method of “Experiential learning”. The pedagogical approach used is peer learning which enhances the learning capability of Science subject by sharing knowledge between the students.

We must encourage teachers to attend In-service training, learn new digital techniques, and promote teachers' exchange programmes in India and abroad. Students should get the opportunity to visit other schools situated in different parts of India in order to develop their cultural understanding and diversity.

Ref: https://www.cbse.gov.in/cbsenew/documents//Pedagogical%20Leaders.pdf

About the author:

Dilip Kumar is the Principal of Star Public School, Lumshnong

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Twenty-First Century Pedagogy & Innovative Teaching Methods

As we enter the 21st century, teachers need to figure out the best ways to make learning easier. The time has come to implement technological, economic, and cultural forces in all facets of the education system.

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As we enter the 21st century, teachers need to figure out the best ways to make learning easier. The time has come to implement technological, economic, and cultural forces in all facets of the education system. There is a need to introduce new technology, economic resources, and cultural influences into the educational system at every level to promote experiential learning.

UNESCO recommended the following teaching strategies for the twenty-first-century experiential learning, storytelling, value education, inquiry learning, appropriate assessment, future problem solving, outside classroom learning, and community problem-solving.

Education in the twentieth century differed significantly from education in the twenty-first century. Learning has evolved from rote memorization to learner-centric approaches, theory to practice, teacher-centered to student-centered, and memorization to innovation. Teaching methods and didactics have radically changed in the past century. With the ability to access almost any information at any time from an early age, the educational space has expanded beyond the classroom. Learning has been transformed. 

It has happened because of the flexibility offered by digital media as opposed to traditional media, the ability to multitask, the use of intellectual ICT tools versus pure mental performance, easier access to textbook content with one-click internet searches, and fewer classroom interactions due to the use of digital media. The result has been a scenario in which knowledge acquisition has evolved into knowledge creation. Teachers must adapt their pedagogy and teaching methods so that they are able to engage such large audiences, and hence the only option is to innovate as per the needs of students of new generations.

Gamification:-

Learning requires engagement. Educating through games, with enticing characters and intriguing situations, is the best way to engage students without overshadowing the pedagogy or concept This is a good method to prepare students with concepts before moving forward to another chapter. It makes the children eager to learn more and learning will be long lasting and adventurous. This is a good method to prepare students with concepts before moving forward to another chapter.

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Spaced learning: –

A comparatively new method of teaching has been introduced called "spaced learning", which repeats the same lesson multiple times, but at different intervals. This method provides intervals for the students to continue to acquire the knowledge and create connections between repetitions of the same lesson. Physical activities or mindfulness methods are used to rejuvenate the mind before continuing the lesson. One can use different methods for the same content to achieve the competency of the child.

Collaborative Learning: –

Before exams, it was common to learn at home in solitude. As students help each other reach their goals, they are now members of a group. Students become better listeners and better team players. It allows them to share their creativity and gain more knowledge as they learn to tolerate others' opinions and even meet with different people to receive a genuine critique of their work. Additionally, it helps them learn how to deal with constructive criticism and cross-examinations and develops social skills among them. The use of manipulation can be brought to the practice in collaboration cooperation and respect for each other. Desks should be replaced with interactive whiteboard surfaces so that groups can work together more efficiently.

Flipped Classroom: –

A new pedagogical term has emerged called "Flipped Classroom." It is the reverse of traditional classroom instruction. Flipped classrooms allow students to watch a video tutorial, research online or work on content shared by the teacher at home. These materials are then used in the classroom to complete class assignments. When students arrive at school, they are prepared with the content, and if they have questions, they can discuss them in class. In addition, they can share with their classmates any ideas they have related to the content. Flipping a classroom allows students to have sufficient time to grasp the content and lifelong experience for the same.

Cross-Learning: –

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Learning and teaching in cross-cultural settings can be informal or formal. A formal setting is utilized to teach content and provide study materials to enhance knowledge, and then a more informal environment such as museums, seminars, and after-school programs are used to stimulate curiosity and interest.

VAK (Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic) Teaching:

VAK is a modern teaching method that is based on the Multiple Intelligence theory. Learning can be classified into three categories: Visual (seeing or hearing data), Audio (hearing or feeling the data), and Kinaesthetic (moving or feeling the data). Each learner requires a different approach.  One can use different mind maps and use of Art Integration can be used to focus on all three types of leaners that is visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic.

Computational Thinking: –

Computational thinking is a powerful approach to thinking and problem-solving. It involves breaking large problems down into smaller ones (decomposition), recognizing how these relate to problems that have been solved in the past (pattern recognition), setting aside unimportant details (abstraction), identifying and developing the steps that will be necessary to reach a solution (algorithms) and refining these steps (debugging).

Such computational thinking skills can be valuable in many aspects of life, ranging from writing a recipe to share a favourite dish with friends, to planning a holiday or expedition, to deploying a scientific team to tackle a difficult challenge like an outbreak of disease.

Being in the 21st century, there is an urgent need for educators to figure out the best ways for learners. The need of the hour is to introduce technological, economic, and cultural forces in the education system at all levels and change the core of the traditional educational system to promote experiential learning.  At AEMS, we have adopted most of these innovative pedagogies to develop self-learning habits and help them to become lifelong learners.

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About the author:

Khushboo Singh is the Principal of Angel English Medium School, Pune, and has over 15 years of experience as a principal and successful administrator, deeply immersed in curriculum creation, contemplative pedagogy, along with extensive evaluation of several curricula to arrive at best practices in teaching-learning, content creation, and educational research.

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21st Century Pedagogy and Teaching Methods

Imparting 21st-century skills has become the need of the hour, with schools and institutions emphasising more on the imparting of the same since it is these skills that give a student an edge over the others.

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The 21st century is an era that is looked upon with unlimited hopes and expectations. There has been rapid progress and development in every domain and man’s hunger and thirst to unravel the mysteries of undiscovered realms has compelled him to come up with the most astonishing discoveries. There have been major advancements in the field of technology which has pervaded all of life’s realms, including the education sector, which has witnessed a sea-change in all its procedures.

Imparting 21st-century skills has become the need of the hour, with schools and institutions emphasising more on the imparting of the same since it is these skills that give a student an edge over the others.

Well understanding the importance of 21st-century skills and the need for the same to be instilled in our students, we at Adani World School, are making every effort towards raising confident 21st-century learners, who would not only possess knowledge but also be equipped to come up with creative problem-solving skills, critical thinking, logical analysis, to name a few of the 21st-century skills. One would thus agree with me, when I say, that these skills cannot be instilled with traditional teaching methods. Teaching methods, strategies, and pedagogies need to be worked upon and revised on a regular basis to keep our students abreast with the times. What once seemed to be a far-fetched idea, is now a reality, with our students living in that reality. A whole lot of exposure and information at the click of a button makes classroom sessions stand at a huge risk of becoming redundant and even ineffective. A teacher’s hard work of preparing for the lectures and classroom sessions, thus becomes futile and the entire exercise proves to be a sheer waste of time and effort. At AWS, significant emphasis is laid on devising new teaching strategies, to not only retain a learner’s interest but also stimulate his thinking to know more and comprehend better, since, we believe, that once these two important skills are achieved, we have done half the job. The other half, then lies in instigating a student to self-exploration and trying out new methods, thus being enlightened with answers to his queries.

Towards the imparting of these 21st-century skills, some of the teaching pedagogies that we implement at AWS are as follows:

Experiential Learning: Experiential learning or 'learning by doing' is what is followed strongly for subjects such as PBL and Mathematics. Once students themselves get involved in learning a certain concept, the results are noteworthy. This strategy is implemented through the making of a vertical garden, tailor visits to help young ones understand the types of fabrics and the process of cloth stitching before the final product, holiday projects, field visits, and laboratory experiments to name a few. Moreover, events such as Odyssey – Science Fest, Math Fest, ArtFest, etc. enable students to put all their learning to the test and explain the procedures in a clear and concise manner to the audience. The Jodo Gyan technique used to impart Math makes calculations not only easy but also attracts the students to try out new methods. One of the most dreaded subjects now become one of the most interesting ones.

Besides, getting the students gripped to the sessions, and the absorption of procedures, experiential learning also develops their thought processing skills and analytical skills, not to forget patience and appreciation for the happenings that they see around them. Once a student himself becomes a part of the process and goes through it, the comprehension and retention achieved are amazing. He/She then sets out to analyse the reason for the happenings and in this quest does a lot of back working, research, observations, etc., and finally arrives at a logical conclusion. Our aim here is achieved. It then doesn’t take much to put all that has been observed, into writing, in a systematic manner.

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Story Telling: This kind of strategy is applied more to teach language subjects and subjects like History. When a student narrates a story, it develops his/her communication skills. Is that all? Certainly not…it also develops in the student's thought-processing skills, nuances of storytelling, such as intonation, voice modulation, expressions (both facial and voice), retention, and comprehension. Also, when a student narrates a story, he is taken over by the feeling that his story must sound as interesting as possible.

This is done in AWS by way of conducting story-telling activities across grades, the story length varying for different age groups. ‘Literati’ or Language Fest is conducted every academic session, which witnesses various events such as Debates, Poetry-recitation competitions, Elocution competitions, and Drama activities, to hone communication skills in our students. Such events also lead to literary enrichment of our students who also learn about the rich heritage and culture of nations across the world, through stories. Moreover, they gain knowledge about the different genres of writing and also learn about the literary festivals held in our country, the Jaipur festival, being one of them. A whole lot of information is gained by the students through this festival, by way of projects and research work. Group discussions which are carried out at the end of every story or topic of history, enables students to come together and discuss a certain topic or issue, helping them to agree with their group members, voice out their opinion, and work together as a team to come up with a solution. Group discussions are thus conducted to promote team spirit, teamwork and tolerance for others’ viewpoints, different from their own.

Certain times, teachers force the creative juices in students to flow by asking them to give a different ending to a story, or a twist in the plot, etc. This makes the air light, lends humour, and enables students to freely communicate their ideas without any inhibitions.

The Spell Bee competition is the most awaited competition, which also marks the culmination of Literati. As the name suggests, this competition tests the spelling power of students, to bring out perfection in their writing.

Value Education: Although not a separate subject, as we believe that values need to be exercised day-in and day-out and do not have a specific calling, at AWS, values are instilled in our students through theme-based assemblies, observing of World Food Day and Earth Day, etc. A sense of gratitude and appreciation and the need for honesty, integrity, helpfulness, and sincerity are woven into the classroom sessions, in every way possible. Moreover, students are made to understand the value of possessing a positive attitude and being optimistic at all times. This also ensures the socio-economic well-being of the students, which leads to happy students and a happy environment.

Enquiry Learning: A spirit of inquiry is encouraged and evoked in all our students. We believe that it is the spirit of inquiry that would help our students identify problems and come up with solutions. These are done across grades, for all subjects through situation-based activities, or even a question thrown to the class, throwing open a platform for discussion. I must state here, that students, as tender and young as they may seem, are filled with ideas and come up with the most unthought, novel solutions.

Future Problem Solving: Our students have been participating in the Model United Nations for the past two years and as they are being prepared for the same, they learn the art of predicting and foreseeing future problems that may arise and think of creative ways t solve such problems. Here they go above and beyond the boundaries of our nation and devise solutions for global peace, as they represent countries across the world. They do extensive research on the problems being faced by the particular country, its relationships with its neighbours, alliances, etc, and then present their argument at the MUN. One of our students also came back with the ‘Best Recommendation Award’ at MUN.

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Outside Classroom Learning: A field trip and a visit to the Neelapattu Bird Sanctuary ensured that learning does not remain confined to the four walls of a classroom, rather that our young 21st-century learners, need more to walk with the times and be well informed. Several times, our Art educator, takes the children out on the ground or under a tree and asks them to draw what best attracts them.

These are a few of the teaching strategies that we are implementing in our school to ensure that we raise confident learners. Our objective does not stop here – for we seek to raise educated, confident, aware adults endowed with sensitivity to contribute to the upliftment of society and spread happiness wherever they go, towards which we have:

N-Embark: Greaders’Club and Nature’s Club – While in Greaders’Club the focus is more on instilling a love for reading and books and giving an insight into the publishing industry and what it takes to become an author, the Nature’s Club, focuses more on evoking sensitivity towards nature and devising ways to save it from further harm.

All efforts are made towards maintaining a happy school by keeping our students and staff happy. Each one is made to feel special and the overall well-being of every individual is looked into with their problems being solved to the best possible. Student-led conferences are encouraged to develop their confidence and drive away fear. Classroom sessions are often student-led with the teacher’s talk time forming only 20 -40% of the entire session.

Students are allowed to make independent decisions and then their strengths and weaknesses are discussed in the decision to help them become wide decision-makers. This also makes them independent decision-makers, from small decisions to what they should wear for a class party to making a choice that could affect them in some way or the other.

Meaningful relationships between students and adults are encouraged to help them understand the meaning of one of the most important factors of a happy life. In this technology-driven world, where students are hooked to electronic devices, relationships are fast taking a backseat. Students are thus encouraged to forge new relationships and experience happiness when they form meaningful relationships with their friends, relatives, parents, teachers, etc.

Resolving conflicts is another important aspect that we seek to develop in our students, as they come together to resolve a conflict that could either be within the class or school or discuss on national and global issues, it helps them perceive things from multiple angles and thus broadens their horizon of thinking.

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After reading all of the above, can we safely say then, that through the imparting of 21st-century skills, we at Adani World School seek to raise global citizens, who would devise solutions and strategies to make this world a better and a happier place?

Cheers

About the author:

Ritesh V. Mehta is the Principal of Adani World School.

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The most valuable resource that all teachers in the 21st-century need is collaboration

The traditional teaching methods focussed more on memorizing. However, with accelerating technological change in today’s world, we require an improvement in the teaching-learning process.

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Innovation and creativity in teaching are essential for both the students and teachers. The innovative teaching methods improve the education system and galvanize the learners to achieve the human development goal for the country. The traditional teaching methods focussed more on memorizing. However, with accelerating technological change in today’s world, we require an improvement in the teaching-learning process.

21st-century facilitators need to serve as a guide or mentor for their students, not as the all-knowing sage providing them with all their information. The pedagogy aims to develop the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work, life, and citizenship.

The first step toward innovative teaching methods would be a relevant curriculum. Both teachers and students benefit from the use of generative topics and reinforcement of relevance. Teachers like this method as it allows for the freedom to teach creatively and the students find learning more interesting, engaging, and above all something they can apply, rather than simply possess.

Students learn better with peers. They can discuss concepts in pairs or groups and share what they understand with the rest of the class. Self and peer assessment would inculcate healthy competition amongst learners. They can develop arguments and debate them. Together, students and the teacher can use a studio format in which several students work through a given issue, talking through their thinking process while the others comment. Roleplay is another pedagogy wherein the students will understand the psychology of characters.

Teaching with technology offers the potential to provide students with new ways to develop their problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. It engages students with different kinds of stimuli-involve in activity-based learning. There are many other examples of web-based forums through which students and their peers from around the world can interact, share, debate, and learn from each other.

Generation Z –born between 1995 and 2009- most of them do not remember life without the internet and have had technology like smartphones, iPads, smartboards, and other devices available throughout most of their schooling. Generation Alpha – born in 2010-they are younger than smartphones, the iPad, 3D television, Instagram, and music streaming apps like Spotify. This is the first generation likely to see in the 22nd century in large numbers. They are skilled with technology and comfortable with global and intercultural communication.

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The coalition P21 (Partnership for 21st-century Learning) has identified four “Skills for Today”:

  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

These four integral themes should be overlaid across all curriculum mapping and strategic planning.

Facilitating learners with how to learn concepts. Educating learners for the 21st century requires teaching them how to learn on their own. Teachers can develop students’ metacognitive capacity by encouraging them to explicitly examine how they think. Students benefit from believing that intelligence and capacity increase with effort and that mistakes and failures are opportunities for self-inquiry and growth rather than indictments of worth or ability.

Innovative teaching pedagogy in the 21st century also includes brainstorming about ways in which the learners might apply a concept to another situation; generalizing broad principles from a specific piece of information; drawing analogies between a topic and something different; studying the same problem at home and at school, to practice drawing parallels between contextual similarities and differences.

Experiential learning is a widely practiced method of teaching that supports students in applying their knowledge and conceptual understanding of real-world problems. MOOC is another learning method in Higher education that promotes active learning, where the learner watches videos and engages in interactive exercises.

21st-century schools are also responding to demand by moving into international education. ISC Research has tracked these changes in their research. In the past, international schools were primarily for the families of military personnel and diplomats. In the year 2000, there were 2,500 international schools globally with fewer than one million students attending, but in December 2016 there were over 8,600 international schools with almost 4.5 million students.

The facilitators in the 21st century have been called a promoter of the Avant-garde. The innovative pedagogy would also incorporate Cooperative learning also known as collaborative teaching; whereby learners exchange and collaborate ideas while learning. Student chosen text is also one of the recent innovative pedagogies. This will enhance independent reading and critical analysis.

Educational influencers also suggest how to use a concept map in a classroom. It enables the learners to organize their ideas and represent how ideas are connected. The pedagogy encourages them to use the concept to summarize what was read. The flipped classroom is another feather in the cap when we talk of the 21st-century practice of teaching: an instructional strategy and a type of blended pedagogy, which aims to increase student engagement and learning by having learners complete readings at home and work on live problem-solving during class time.

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“The most valuable resource that all teachers in the 21st-century need is collaboration. Without which our growth is limited to our own perspectives.”

Each of the innovative methods in this article uses a strategy in which learners question, research, use technology and create meaning from provided materials and research. Twenty-first-century pedagogy must also allow students to solve problems, challenge themselves and present their findings to others.

Education is a very powerful tool for social change and innovative teaching methods are the only way to enhance the quality of our education and develop creativity amongst learners. 

About the author:

Nindiya Saket is Principal of Manav Rachna International School, Sector – 51, NOIDA

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My views on Innovative Teaching Methods

The purpose of this article is to summarize the current changes in didactics for the use of innovative teaching methods and study the understanding of changes by teachers.

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In the twenty-first century, significant changes are occurring related to new scientific discoveries, informatization, globalization, the development of astronautics, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

This century is called the age of digital technologies and knowledge. How is the school changing in the new century? How does learning theory change? Currently, you can hear a lot of criticism that the classroom has not changed significantly compared to the last century or even like two centuries ago.

Do the teachers succeed in modern changes? The purpose of this article is to summarize the current changes in didactics for the use of innovative teaching methods and study the understanding of changes by teachers. Here, we consider four areas: the expansion of the subject of pedagogy, the environmental approach to teaching, the digital generation and the changes taking place, and innovation in teaching.

The theory of education, figuratively speaking, has two levels. At the macro-level, in the “education-society” relationship, decentralization and diversification, internationalization of education, and the introduction of digital technologies occur. At the micro-level in the “teacher-learner” relationship, there is an active mix of traditional and innovative methods, the combination of an activity approach with an energy-informational environment approach, cognition with constructivism, and connectivism.

Keywords: didactics, digital generation, innovative teaching methods, environmental approach.

One of the modern methodologies that have gained more popularity in recent years, Flipped Classroom is a pedagogical approach in which the traditional elements of the lesson taught by the teacher are reversed – the primary educational materials are studied by the students at home, and then, worked on in the classroom.

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The main objective of this methodology is to optimize time in class by dedicating it, for example, to meet the special needs of each individual student, developing cooperative projects, or working on specific tasks.

Education in the Future

In the future, the average student will wake up in the morning with a list of educational reminders that a touch screen holographic image will project in front of her face. After checking her My FaceTube app (or some similar form of multi-purpose social media), she will open a reminder from her tenth-grade teacher that displays it across the bedroom wall. As the student brushes her teeth, the teacher will give a summary of the previous day’s lesson and what e-books to bring. New teaching methodologies are changing the educational environments around the world and driving better academic performance among students. We go over some of the main innovative approaches that educators have forged over the last few years and that every 21st-century teacher should be acquainted with.

About the author:

Khusboo Thakur is Principal, Rajendra Vidyalaya, Ghutia unit .

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