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Teachers can help students attain the self-actualisation stage, where they perform at their fullest potential

Parvathy Jayakrishnan sheds light on how teachers can help students attain the self-actualisation stage, where they perform at their fullest potential

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A classroom often has 25-40 students learning together and they may all be from different backgrounds and learning levels. Before expecting students to reach their true potential, teachers need to meet them at their current levels. Psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation suggested that before individuals meet their full potential, they need to satisfy a series of needs. This is popularly known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and it is widely followed in educational circles. Maslow’s theory is explained in a pyramid where the most basic needs are at the bottom. He prioritises physiological needs, safety needs, social belonging, esteem and then self-actualisation. "What one can be, he must be.” That is the true meaning of attaining self-actualisation and Maslow believed that to attain it, one must not only achieve the previous needs but also master them.

Fulfilling children’s needs

Physiological needs are those required to keep the human body functioning and they are, of course, most important; breath, water, food, shelter and warmth being some of them. Students need to have their basic physiological needs satisfied to function well.

Their second most important need is safety. Safety includes personal security, financial security, health and well-being and safety needs against accidents/ illness and their adverse impacts. It is not enough that our children feel safe at home. They need to feel equally safe in school, whether dealing with a teacher or a security guard at the gate. The school needs to ensure that their students are in a safe and loving environment when they are there.

The third level of need is interpersonal and the deep need to feel a sense of belonging. This is very important for students as they need to be able to make friends and feel a sense of belonging in social groups.

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Esteem is the need for students to feel valued and respected. This includes developing a high self-esteem. Children with low self-esteem tend to seek fame but in reality it does not help improve their self-esteem. On the other hand, a powerful verbal feedback from the teacher can instantly improve a child’s self-esteem.

So, to achieve self-actualisation, all the above-mentioned needs need to be fulfilled. A teacher should not assume that a student can achieve his/her full potential the moment they enter the classroom. They need to be assessed and the gaps in their needs should be filled appropriately.

To achieve physiological needs, water can be kept in the classroom for students to access when thirsty. It’s a small step which can be very beneficial. Research proves that student behaviour is better when they stay hydrated. Classrooms can also provide nutritional snacks (or schools can urge parents to send them from home) to keep students active through the day. Often, students are rushing to school and they tend to skip meals. This, in turn, affects their behaviour in the classroom. A simple granola bar can sustain their energy levels for a few hours and they can concentrate better.

If a student is sleep-deprived for some reason, he/she can be allowed a short nap to get back his/her concentration. Of course, the teacher can make sure that this is an occasional thing and not a regular habit. Sleep-deprived students tend to learn less as their concentration levels are low and they tend to disturb others in class too.

To ensure safety, schools need to strongly condemn bullying and ensure that every single case of bullying is severely penalised. The behaviour of school staff also needs to be monitored and any complaint from a student needs to be attended to and not brushed away.

To ensure a child’s social needs in the classroom, they can be seated together and made to form groups where they learn to work and play together and share their things. They need to feel that their classroom is a family and treat one another with respect.

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Self-esteem of a student can be improved by providing concrete feedback. Even peer feedback is equally important. Teachers can create opportunities for students to share positive peer feedback.

These are some ways that the school/ classroom can help their students attain the self-actualisation stage, where they are performing at their fullest potential.

Goal setting

Another theory that works for classrooms is called the goal setting theory by John Locke. It involves the development of an action plan designed to motivate and guide a person or a group towards a goal.

One of the most effective ways to stay motivated is to set goals for your students. However, the type and quality of goals you set affect how well they will work.

The simple act of setting an effective goal gives them a better chance of realising that goal. Given below are several principles crucial to setting effective goals.

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  1. Clarity. A clear, measurable goal is more achievable than one that is poorly defined. Be specific. The most effective goals have a specific timeline for completion. When a teacher sets a goal, she needs to be specific about the task. For example, while giving homework, specify the date of submission, the exact tasks that need to be done and the procedure to do it.
  2. Challenge. The goal must have a decent level of difficulty in order to motivate the child to strive toward the goal. Say, a student is consistently scoring Cs in a subject; her immediate goal should be to bring it to a B. The goal should be challenging and achievable.
  3. Commitment. Put deliberate effort into meeting this goal. Share the goal with someone else in order to increase your accountability to meet that goal.
  4. Feedback. Set up a method to receive information on the student’s progress towards the goal.
  5. Task complexity. If a goal is complex, make sure you give the student enough time to overcome the learning curve involved in completing the task. If a goal is really tough, make sure you give the student some padding so that he/she has the best chance at succeeding. After all, the goal-setting exercise is to see improvement.

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International Day of Education – A Global Celebration on 24 January 2021

24 January is observed as the International Day of Education, 2021 is the 3rd consecutive session.

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“Without quality education and lifelong learning for all, we will not succeed in addressing the challenges of our world. This requires investment, coordination and multilateralism; rethinking what and how we learn, with those who are on the frontlines and will be the actors and citizens of tomorrow: teachers and young people.” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General

With that riveting thought, let us discuss the 24th of January which is observed as the International Day of Education. The United Nations General Assembly, on 3 December 2018, took the decision to commemorate this knowledge day. The 2021 ceremony marks the 3rd consecutive year of the International Day of Education observance.

UNESCO announced that the third International Day of Education (24 January 2021) would be under the theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation.’ The 2021 celebration will be held for two days – 24 & 25 January 2021.

Due to the COVID pandemic, closure of educational institutes as well as the interruption of many ‘literacy/lifelong learning programmes’ were affected. Globally, the lives of 1.6 billion students in over 190 countries suffered chaos in regards to education. The UN stated, “As a new year begins, now is the time to step up collaboration and international solidarity to place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery and the transformation towards more inclusive, safe and sustainable societies.” 

Apart from this, UNESCO, in partnership with CRI (Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity), launched the initiative #LearningPlanet on 24 January 2020, the second session of the International Day of Education. 

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‘Learning to take care of Oneself, Others and the Planet’ is the theme under with the #LearningPlanet Festival. 

The link to register for the event: https://www.learning-planet.org/en/festival

On January 25th, 2021, UNESCO will celebrate by organising an online conference on the 2021 theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation.’ 

The link to register for the event: https://unesco-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_F1ZC0KMIRJ-iu9TQ9p5aSA?timezone_id=Asia%2FCalcutta

*Registration for the #LearningPlanet Festival will also give you access to UNESCO’s online conference programme.

We know that the Sustainable Development Goal 4 specifically aims to harmonize and strengthen support to the Member States and their partners in achieving SDG 4 target by 2030. It also aids regarding other education-related targets for the member countries. Even though the goals were set before the world suffered COVID-19, that undeniably slowed the process, the United Nations is working not just towards the set target but to also rebuild all that was lost.

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UNESCO has been tirelessly working to protect the well-being of children and ensure they have access to continued learning. UNESCO, in the March of 2020, launched the COVID-19 Global Education Coalition. It is a multi-sector partnership amongst the UN family, civil society organizations, media and IT partners to design and deploy innovative solutions regarding the right to education.

Specifically, the Global Education Coalition aims to:

  1. Help countries in mobilizing resources and implementing innovative and context-appropriate solutions to provide education remotely, leveraging hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches;
  2. Seek equitable solutions and universal access;
  3. Ensure coordinated responses and avoid overlapping efforts;
  4. Facilitate the return of students to school when they reopen to avoid an upsurge in dropout rates.

Source: un.org

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Commemorating World Hindi Day (10th Jan) With Best Hindi Writers & Their Writings

10 January is celebrated are World Hindi Day internationally to promote the Hindi language.

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The purpose of celebrating World Hindi Day is to create wider awareness for the promotion of the language. It also attempts to introduce Hindi as an international language by celebrating the day in Indian embassies all around the world. The first time World Hindi Conference happened was back in 1975 in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Later, in 2006, former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced 10th January as World Hindi Day.

Prominent Hindi Writers of India

We’ve all read ‘Kabir ke dohe’ back in the school days. Its writer, Kabir Das, was a 15th-century poet and his writings hugely influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement of the time. He was born into a Muslim family but was strongly influenced by his teacher, Ramananda, who was a Hindu bhakti leader. Kabir's verses were also incorporated into ‘The Adi Granth’ which is the scripture of Sikhism.

Some of his work that should not be missed is:

  • The intricately woven blanket
  • Couplets
  • Śalokā
  • Sākhī

Dhanpat Rai Srivastava, better known by his pen name ‘Munshi Premchand,’ is yet another name that must be included in this list. He was an Indian writer famous for his modern literature in Hindi. Premchand has been called "Upanyas Samrat" because of his writings that got very popular in all age-groups.

Some of his best work comprises of:

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  • Kafan
  • Gaban
  • Poos Ki Raat
  • Nirmala
  • Thakur Ka Kuan
  • Eidgah
  • Namak Ka Daroga

Mahadevi Varma was a Hindi poetess and novelist. She is called ‘Modern Meera’ and is also considered as one of the four major pillars of Indian Hindi Literature. Varma was one of those Indian writers who witnessed the nation getting independence and worked towards uplifting the society at large.

Some of her work that needs to be read at least once is:

  • Ab Yah Chidiya Kahan Rahegi
  • Mere Bachpan Ke Din
  • Thakurji Bhole Hai
  • Aaj Kharidenge Hum Jwala

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was an Indian poetess from Allahabad (modern-day Prayagraj). She took pride in being the first female freedom fighter who got arrested during ‘Satyagraha,’ the nationwide protest under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership. 

Some of her work includes:

  • Jhansi Ki Rani
  • Veeron Ka Kaisa Ho Basant
  • Rakhi Ki Chunauti
  • Vida
  • Khilonewala
  • Tridhara

Harivansh Rai Bachchan, also famous as legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan’s father, was one of the best poets of the 21st century. His original second name was Shrivastava but he preferred using his pen name – Bachchan. Many of his writings were used in feature films, especially the ones his son acted in.

His most famous work incorporates:

  • Madhushala
  • Nirman
  • Neeli Chidiya
  • Janmdin ki bhent
  • Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon

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National Mathematics Day (Dec 22): Birthday of the Great Mathematician Ramanujan 

Here are some facts about this 8-year-old tradition.

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22 December is observed as the National Mathematics Day in India. It was India’s former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who declared, on 22 December 2012, that it is to be distinguished as a national celebration of one of the foremost and renowned mathematician, Ramanujan’s work.

Srinivasa Ramanujan Aiyangar, born on 22 December 1887, was an Indian mathematician who, without having any proper training in mathematics, made substantial contributions to the field. His work included mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. Ramanujan also worked on problems that were perceived ‘unsolvable’ at the time. 

He lived during the British rule in India in Madras. Since he had no formal education in mathematics, he was not taken seriously by mathematicians of the time. He then wrote to G.H Hardy, a mathematician in Cambridge, and his work intrigued Hardy to the level that he immediately arranged for Ramanujan to come to Cambridge. Ramanujan was only the second Indian member and became one of the youngest ‘Fellows of the Royal Society.’ He also went on to be elected as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, the first Indian to receive the fellowship.

Ramanujan contracted a disease in England, undiagnosable at that time and had to return home where he died on 26 April 1920. He kept theorising until his last days and his work was globally recognised which advanced mathematics to new directions.

To commemorate his contributions, on 22 Dec 2017, The Ramanujan Math Park in Chittoor Andhra Pradesh was inaugurated. It is a museum and activity centre that is dedicated to mathematics and is located inside the Agastya Campus Creativity Lab. Agastya is passionate about hands-on teaching and the same is maintained in the Mathematics park as well.

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A beautiful film by Matthew Brown ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ was made in 2015 on Ramanujan, his life, work, struggle and beliefs. Actor Dev Patel’s performance as Ramanujan was critically appreciated.

Here are some other well-known Indian mathematicians who made a major contribution to the field:

  1. Shakuntala Devi
  2. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis
  3. Harish Chandra
  4. Mahan Mj
  5. Narendra Krishna Karmarkar
  6. C. R Rao
  7. Radha Kessar 
  8. Chandrashekhar Khare
  9. Sujatha Ramdorai
  10. S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan

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UNESCO Reveals Countries Producing The Highest No. Of STEM Graduates

It was found that India produced most STEM graduates in 2016.

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For a survey, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has collected data that shows the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates in various countries. It was reported that tertiary students in Oman and Tunisia were most likely to graduate in a STEM field, with between 43% to 46% of students receiving a degree in engineering, scientific, technical or mathematical field. 

Whereas in India, almost 32% of students pick STEM, which, in turn, produced the most graduates in a total of almost 2.7 million in 2018. On the other hand, in 2016, India was the global leader in university graduates (78.0 million), slightly ahead of China (77.7 million). The United States was in third place (67.4 million). 

It estimates a 300% increase in the number of Chinese graduates (aged 25 to 34) by 2030 compared to just 30% in the U.S. and Europe. STEM has become a pretty big deal in China's flourishing universities lately. Though UNESCO did not publish data for China. In 2016, the World Economic Forum said that China actually produced 4.7 million STEM graduates a year, which would exceed India’s earlier reported number of 2018, by a large margin. Yet, according to the National Science Foundation, China classifies engineering and science fields quite broadly, leading to a lack of comparability in the data. The U.S. government agency counted 1.6 million Chinese science and engineering graduates in 2014. 

Other countries with a huge number of STEM graduates were Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Algeria, Iran, Myanmar and Belarus, all producing more than 30% STEM graduates. Whereas to compare STEM graduates, only 26% were from the UK, 25% from France, 23% in Spain and 18% in the U.S. and Brazil, respectively.

Source: UNESCO

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Norwegian Neuroscientist Says Handwriting Is Better Than Typing For Students

Dr. Van Der Meer’s research shows how taking hand-written notes in a classroom can result in a child’s nervous system development

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Audrey van der Meer is a Norwegian Neuroscientist and Professor of Neuropsychology at the Department of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She is also the Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at NTNU Trondheim where they study human development and a better understanding of the underlying principles that guide development, learning, and cognitive ageing. Her latest paper ‘The importance of cursive handwriting over typewriting for learning in the classroom’ shows the difference in cognitive functioning and development when typing while taking notes as well as writing.

‘To write by hand, to type, or to draw – which of these strategies is the most efficient for optimal learning in the classroom?’ 

According to the study by Dr. Meer and her husband, the decrease in handwritten note-making in the classroom can be harmful in the long run as typing does not make the brain function as much. “As digital devices are increasingly replacing traditional writing by hand, it is crucial to examine the long-term implications of this practice,” they suggest.

For educators, this is more like a guide since this year saw a lot of virtual learning happen, even in some parts of the world schools haven’t reopened yet. More so, the education field is taking a turn for good towards the technology. While we study and implement the new age learning-teaching methods and we should also remember the basics, there was a reason why elders would ask to write and learn because it was less learning more understanding. 

Dr. Meer in her paper says, “We suggest that children, from an early age, must be exposed to handwriting and drawing activities in school to establish the neuronal oscillation patterns that are beneficial for learning.”

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As we plan and make blueprints for the 21st-century classroom which will have enough technology and digital teaching methods, we must also root for proper comprehensive development. The same applies to digital/virtual classes, giving a one-way lecture or assignments is not enough. Where learning how to type will help the children, so will taking notes manually. 

“Because of the benefits of sensory-motor integration due to the larger involvement of the senses as well as fine and precisely controlled hand movements when writing by hand and when drawing, it is vital to maintain both activities in a learning environment to facilitate and optimize learning,” the study notes.

It is the responsibility of the administrations and education committees to take necessary actions that will result in the students’ all-round development. Dr. Meer’s study clearly indicates a relationship between study patterns and overall cranial (nervous system) growth. Such research should not be ignored and must be given adequate thought. Educators have done some amazing job going digital all of a sudden when COVID-19 pandemic hit, keeping the good work going, we now need to make plans for such a reopening that will develop your students’ brain at optional capacity.

Paper Link: https://ntnuopen.ntnu.no/ntnu-xmlui/handle/11250/2672996

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Finnish Study Proves Teacher-Student Relationship is Important For Child’s Academics

A recent study done in Finland suggests that a conflicted relationship between teacher and student in kindergarten can bring low interest in literacy and math.

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A Finnish study by researchers investigated ‘Investigating Bidirectional Links Between the Quality of Teacher-Child Relationships and Children’s Interest and Pre-Academic Skills in Literacy and Math.'

The study was a part of the ‘Teacher Stress Study’ which is led by Professor Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen and Associate Professor Eija Pakarinen, Department of Teacher Education, University of Jyväskylä (Finland).

This study investigated bidirectional links between the quality of teacher-child relationships and children's interest and pre-academic skills in literacy and math. Furthermore, differences in the patterns of bidirectionality between boys and girls were explored.

The Participants of the study were 461 Finnish kindergarteners (6-year-olds) and their 48 teachers. All around the kindergarten year, twice teachers reported their closeness and conflicts with every student. On the other hand, children rated their interest in literacy and math, they were also tested pre-academically.

Cross-lagged path models indicated that teacher-perceived conflict predicted lower interest and pre-academic skills in both literacy and math. Results were similar for boys and girls. Implications for reducing conflictual patterns of relationships, together with promoting other factors, are discussed.

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The results show that there were statistically significant correlations between teacher-child relationship quality variables and child outcomes, the associations being larger for teacher-perceived conflict.

According to the research conclusion, there should be interventions and teacher preparation programs. These programs should focus mainly on building and fostering the positive aspects of teacher-child relation. Kindergarten teachers should also be provided with prior knowledge about how their relationships with their students can influence their (child’s) later academic interest.

Professor Jaana Viljaranta says, “Compared to daycare, kindergarten introduces children to a more structured learning environment. The experiences children gain in this environment may have long-term consequences on the development of their academic motivation and competencies. Therefore, it is essential that our teachers are aware of the power their interaction with children may have, and that they are supported in finding optimal ways to interact with each child while taking individual strengths and needs into consideration.”

Paper Link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343538745_Investigating_Bidirectional_Links_Between_the_Quality_of_Teacher-Child_Relationships_and_Children's_Interest_and_Pre-Academic_Skills_in_Literacy_and_Math

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5 Historic Deaf Teachers Who Changed The Course of Time & Education

In little or large ways, they all have made a difference.

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Education is a basic human right. To deprive someone of it is like blindfolding them at the top of the mountains so they could never see the picturesque view ever again. And when this someone is of special-needs, our responsibility as a community doubles to support them in receiving the knowledge. 

“If deaf people could get an education, their minds would be set free and the kingdom of the world would be theirs” –  Lawrence R. Newman

Commemorating the International Week of the Deaf (IWD) (21-27 September), an initiative of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), here’s a list of some of the most impactful educators from around the world who’ve truly set an example in the deaf community. Over the years, they’ve worked tirelessly to uplift the education scheme for millions of deaf children. Read about them here:

Andrew Jackson Foster 

He was born on June 27, 1925, in Ensley, Alabama. At the age of 11, both he and his brother contracted spinal meningitis and subsequently became deaf. Amongst other significant work, Foster established Christian Mission for Deaf in Africa, a missionary organization whose goal was to bring education to every deaf child. Similarly, in Ghana, he established Ghana Mission School for the Deaf, the first school for the deaf in West Africa. To work toward educating deaf children, especially African because of all the lack of opportunities for them, Foster ended up establishing 32 schools for the deaf throughout 13 African nations.

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Helen Adams Keller 

She was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama to Arthur and Catherine Keller. At the age of about 1.5 years, she contracted an unknown disease that left her both deaf and blind. Anne Sullivan was her educator for a very long time, who was visually impaired herself. Keller learnt how to speak and gave lectures and speeches for most of her life. She became a great author and social worker, supported causes like anti-racism, health, human rights and many more. Her organisation, Helen Keller International Organisation, is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. She became quite famous because of her autobiography ‘The Story of My Life’ and the movie made on her and her teacher called ‘The Miracle Worker.’ Her work always inclined toward helping deaf and blind people all over the world.

Lawrence R. Newman

Born on March 23, 1925, in Brooklyn, he turned deaf at the age of 5 due to mastoiditis. He taught at a school for 20 years and was chosen California Teacher of the Year by the state Department of Education. He was also elected for the President position at the American Society for Deaf Children and twice elected for the President of National Association of the Deaf. He fought and advocated for the rights of deaf children’s education all his life. He strongly supported for captioned television which became widely available. Newman also wrote two books named ‘Sands of Time’ & ‘I Fill This Small Space.’

Michael M. Ndurumo

He was born on 10 April 1952. He was a PhD in educational administration with related areas in psychology and special education. He was majorly responsible for the development of special education curricula for both undergraduate and graduate levels in Kenya. He developed several other programs both to educate children and to enable educators to teach deaf children. He was one of the founders of Kenya National Association of the Deaf.  

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Marie Jean Philip 

She was born on April 20, 1953, in Massachusettes to John and Doris Philip who were deaf as well. She became an advocate for American Sign Language as a real language. Philip was a pioneer in the Bilingual-Bicultural (Bi-Bi) movement. She travelled to many countries and supported causes regarding education and programs for the deaf. She also developed a reputation as a children’s favourite storyteller. She has a prekindergarten school in Massachusettes named after her, where she was once a beloved teacher, advisor, mentor, mediator, counsellor, and friend.

Note: This goes out to all the special-ed teachers who are striving harder and harder every day for their students, especially now in the COVID-times. Thank you!

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UNICEF Suggests Classroom Precautions During COVID-19

Some useful tips for teachers to protect themselves and their students during the pandemic

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As schools reopen, it’s important that precautions are taken both inside and outside the classroom to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This article aims to support teachers with information and tips on:

  1. Physical distancing at school
  2. Practising health and hand hygiene
  3. Cleaning and disinfecting tips for the classroom
  4. Actions to take if a student appears sick

As a teacher, knowing the facts will not only protect yourself but also your students. Be aware of fake information and dangerous myths about COVID-19 circulating that are feeding fear and stigma. 

Some of your students might be returning to school from households where they heard false information about COVID-19. You will need to educate them on the facts. 

Understanding COVID-19, how it spreads and how we can protect ourselves and others is an important first step in establishing classroom procedures and protocols. Students need to understand what it is in order for them to follow the rules. Listen to their concerns and ideas and answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner. Discuss the different reactions they may experience and explain that these are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.

Make sure to use information about COVID-19 from reliable sources such as UNICEF and WHO, as well as the health authorities in your country. By staying informed about the situation and following the recommendations of public health experts, we can protect our own wellbeing and those around us.

Physical distancing at schools

When it comes to physical distancing, it is important that you establish some classroom ground rules in accordance with the procedures established by your school’s administration, as well as the protocols established by your respective country’s Ministry of Health and/or local health bodies and authorities.

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  1. Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre between everyone present at school
  2. Increase desk spacing (at least 1 metre between desks), stagger recesses/breaks and lunch breaks (if difficult, one alternative is to have lunch at desks)
  3. Limit the mixing of classes for school and after-school activities. For example, students in a class will stay in one classroom throughout the day, while teachers move between classrooms; or classes could use different entrances, if available, or establish an order for each class to enter and leave the building/classroom
  4. Stagger the school day to vary the start and end times and avoid having all the students and teachers together at once 
  5. Consider increasing the number of teachers, if possible, to allow for fewer students per classroom (if space is available)
  6. Advise against crowding during school pick-up or daycare, and if possible avoid pick up by older family or community members (i.e. grandparents). Arrange school pick up/drop off times differently (according to age group) to decrease any large gatherings of children at a given time
  7. Use signs, ground markings, tape, barriers and other means to maintain 1-metre distance in queues around entrances
  8. Discuss how to manage physical education and sports lessons
  9. Move lessons outdoors or ventilate rooms as much as possible
  10. Encourage students not to gather and socialize in big groups upon leaving school grounds.

To do

To encourage your students to stick to the rules, it can be helpful to create a dos and dont’s list with them. Develop a list together around how students will greet each other; how desks will be arranged; physical distancing measures during lunch breaks (who they will sit with, play with during breaks, how they can schedule time with all of their friends across the week).

Health and hand hygiene

Teachers have a critical role to play in ensuring students understand the precautions they should take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, and it is important you lead by example in the classroom.

Handwashing is one of the easiest, more cost-efficient and effective way of combating the spread of germs and keeping students and staff healthy.

Teach the five steps for handwashing:

  1. Wet hands with safe, running water
  2. Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
  3. Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including backs of hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds. You can encourage students to sing a quick song at this point to make it a fun habit
  4. Rinse thoroughly with running water
  5. Dry hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel.

If there is limited access to a sink, running water or soap in the school, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.

Did you know cold water and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses as long as you use soap?

Encourage students to get into the practice of regularly washing their hands and/or applying hand sanitizers at key moments, such as entering and leaving the classroom; touching surfaces, learning materials, books, and after using a tissue to blow their nose.

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Students should always cough and/or sneeze into their elbow. However, if by accident they do so in/on their hands, instruct them to immediately wash their hands or apply hand sanitizer. If students sneeze or cough into a tissue, ensure that it is disposed of immediately and that they wash their hands. It is extremely important to normalize the idea of frequent and routine handwashing.

Even with clean hands, encourage students to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Germs can transfer from those areas on to their clean hands and spread around the classroom this way.

Reinforce frequent handwashing and sanitation and procure needed supplies. Prepare and maintain handwashing stations with soap and water, and if possible, place alcohol-based hand sanitizers in each classroom, at entrances and exits, and near lunchrooms and toilets.

To do 

Identify some practical steps/activities you can take to demonstrate good hygiene practices to your students. Examples include:

  1. Creating a hand hygiene song to sing with your students
  2. Have students draw hygiene posters for the classroom
  3. Set a hand hygiene ritual. You can select a specific time during the day, such as before/after lunchtime for everyone to wash their hands/apply hand sanitizer
  4. Physically demonstrate how to wash your hands and apply sanitizer
  5. Keep a points system in your classroom, giving points to students each time they wash their hands or apply sanitizer
  6. Have students create a public service announcement on hand hygiene and place these posters/ announcements throughout the classroom or school in highly visible places 

Mask-wearing in schools

If wearing fabric masks is recommended in your school, then make sure your students are familiar with when they should wear masks and any related school policies, such as how to dispose of used masks safely to avoid the risk of contaminated masks in classrooms and playgrounds. 

All efforts should be made to ensure the use of a mask does not interfere with learning. No children should be denied access to education because of mask-wearing or the lack of a mask because of low resources or unavailability.

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If you have students with disabilities, such as hearing loss or auditory problems in your class, then consider how these children may miss learning opportunities because of the degraded speech signal stemming from mask-wearing, the elimination of lipreading and speaker expressions and physical distancing. Adapted masks to allow lipreading (e.g. clear masks) or use of face shields may be explored as an alternative to fabric masks.

Cleaning and disinfecting

Information on how to maintain the cleanliness and sanitization of your classroom.

Daily cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, taps, phones and toys.

Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.

Use appropriate cleaning materials

  1. Ensure you understand all instruction labels and understand the safe and appropriate use
  2. Follow the instructions on the labels
  3. Cleaning products and disinfectants often call for the use of gloves or eye protection. For example, gloves should always be worn to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions
  4. Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can result in serious injury or death
  5. Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for the surface
  6. Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection and has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 0.5%. Ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Some bleaches, such as those designed for safe use on coloured clothing or for whitening may not be suitable for disinfection
  7. Household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted
  8. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser
  9. Leave the solution on the surface for at least 1 minute.

​To do 

  1. Come up with some fun and creative ideas and rules with your students for avoiding high-risk and high-touch areas in their school/classroom. For example, not touching the railing while walking up and down the stairs, or keeping classroom doors open to avoid touching door-knobs
  2. Come up with some rules together as a group and write these down on a flipchart paper that you can later hang up in the classroom
  3. Create fun reminders/posters that can be hung in the hallways to remind others to stick to the sanitation rules.

Actions to take if one of your students appears to be sick

Identifying COVID-19 symptoms:

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, confusion, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and skin rashes.
School preparations and what to do if one of your students displays any of the symptoms.

  1. Designate a specific area in the school (i.e. near the entrance) as a waiting room where children can wait. Ideally, this room should be well-ventilated. If there are school nurses available, it is recommended that they are designated staff in this waiting area. If students feel ill and/or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they should wait in the designated room to be picked up by their parents/caregiver. Afterwards, the room should be cleaned, disinfected and sanitized
  2. Provide the sick student with a medical mask if available
  3. Consider daily screening for body temperature, and history of fever or feeling feverish in the previous 24 hours, on entry into the building for all staff, students and visitors to identify persons who are sick 
  4. Ensure a procedure for separating sick students and staff from those who are well – without creating stigma – and a process for informing parents, and consulting with health care providers/ health authorities wherever possible
  5. Students/ staff may need to be referred directly to a health facility, depending on the situation/ context, or sent home
  6. Encourage all students to stay home and self-isolate should they feel ill
  7. Develop a standard of operation if temperature screening is required
  8. Share procedures with parents and students ahead of time.

There have been several reports of children acquiring a multisystem inflammatory condition, which is possibly linked with COVID-19. If you notice any rash, hypertension, or acute gastrointestinal problems in your students, it could be an indication that they are experiencing multisystem inflammatory syndrome and should seek medical attention immediately.

To do 

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Create your own infection control plan. What actionable steps do you take if a student reports feeling ill during the school day? Consider all possible steps you can take from the moment they tell you.

This article was first published on UNICEF

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Knowledge

Important Nature-Related Days in July to Learn About

World Nature Conservation Day (28 July) & International Tiger Day (29 July) are celebrated every year to raise awareness on the respective matters

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To awaken their curiosity and eventually their conscience to work towards the betterment of the world, talk to your students about Nature Conservation Day and International Tiger Day that are celebrated on 28 & 29 July, respectively. 

The youth of today needs to know on what cost does the ‘development’ stands and should be able to distinguish between actual development from the conglomerate ventures.

World Nature Conservation Day is observed on 28 July every year to raise awareness about the significance of natural resources and encourage people about the practices of protecting natural resources. The year 2020’s theme for World Nature Conservation Day is that a healthy environment is key to a healthy and sustainable society. How true! 

The main objective of celebrating this day is to protect, maintain and conserve the natural resources and habitats. Due to the depletion of natural resources and the imbalance in the ecosystem, people face risks like natural disasters, global warming, various diseases and much more. The solution resides in the preservation of the environment and Mother Nature to protect the various life forms around us.

“Conservation means the wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of men." – Gifford Pinchot, American forester and politician.

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International Tiger Day, celebrated on 29th July, comes with the slogan – Their Survival is in our hands – as a reminder of the agreement signed by countries in Saint Petersburg in Russia, named ‘Tiger Summit’ in 2010. This was done to raise awareness about the decreasing tiger population globally. There, the representative countries declared that the tiger-populated countries would make efforts to almost double the tiger population by the year 2022.

Out of around 3,000 left alive, India is a habitat of 75% of total tigers on the earth, the Royal Bengal Tiger being one of the most majestic ones with dangerous chances of extinction.  

“When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.” – George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright.

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Celebrate Pi Approximation Day (22 July) by Learning Its Interesting Significance

Pi Approximation Day is celebrated every year on July 22, marking the significance of the fraction value in the aspects of science and academia

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Pi Approximation Day is celebrated every year on 22 July and there’s a very special reason behind the same. The value of Pi is 3.14, that is a result of the fraction 22/7 – the date! Also known as Casual Pi Day, the day glorifies the mathematical constant pi (π), that denotes the relationship between a circle's circumference and its diameter.

However, some people also celebrate the Pi Approximation Day on 14 March, as the simplified value of the fraction is 3.14, which turns to be 14/3 in the date format. The enthusiasts have debated on the irrationality of celebrating on the 14 of March, as the decimal approximation value never ends nor repeats! See for yourself: 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 and it goes on.

Interestingly, there are many reasons for the day to be more special, as Pi is somehow present in every aspect of our lives. For example, scientists at NASA keep the space station in operation with 15 or 16 digits of Pi and Pi computation can be used to test computer precision. The strive to discover more values of Pi for practical application and use on Earth has been driving many mathematicians, physicists and academics across the world. Clearly, the day definitely deserves to be celebrated and rejoiced!

We think you should enjoy the day by eating pie or watching the movie ‘Life of the Pi,’ whereas science enthusiasts can do a contest of reciting Pi values. Did you know, in 2006, Akira Haraguchi of Japan recited 1,00,000 digits of Pi from memory in 16 ½ hours, stopping only for five minutes every hour? 

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