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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

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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.

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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Supporting Students’ Well-Being: Integrating SEL into the Curriculum

Many educational institutions have integrated SEL instruction and programs into their curricula to equip students with these priceless abilities

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“Social and Emotional Learning,” abbreviated as “SEL,” refers to how people cultivate their social and emotional capabilities. Teaching kids these abilities is an integral part of social and emotional learning (SEL), which may be accomplished in schools via various approaches, including traditional classroom education, experiential learning, and counseling services.

Students will be equipped with the skills necessary to regulate their emotions, cultivate meaningful relationships, and make responsible choices due to implementing SEL in educational settings. This helps children do better in school and sets them up for future success in all aspects of their lives.

Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relational skills, and responsible decision-making are some of the skills that are often taught via SEL programs in schools. Other skills that are typically taught through SEL programs include social awareness. Developing these abilities is essential for students because they assist them in overcoming obstacles that may arise in their personal lives and academic careers.

It has been shown that the implementation of SEL in schools has a beneficial effect on children’s academic and social results. It can potentially promote educational attainment, improve attendance and eliminate behavioural issues. In addition, it may assist children in developing a feeling of belonging and connection to the community they are a part of at their school.

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Many educational institutions have integrated SEL instruction and programs into their curricula to equip students with these priceless abilities. These programs may be incorporated into established classes or presented as stand-alone educational opportunities. Students needing more help developing their social and emotional skills may be eligible for counselling services from their schools. SEL has the potential to assist all children and adults in achieving personal and academic success, forming and sustaining healthy relationships, becoming lifelong learners, and making constructive contributions to a more compassionate and fairer world. “Social and emotional learning” (SEL) refers to a fundamental component of formal education and overall human growth. SEL is a critical component of student development, and it has been shown to improve academic performance, reduce behavioural problems, and promote positive relationships.

To implement SEL at our school, we can start by introducing the SEL curriculum in all classrooms. This curriculum can include lessons on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Teachers can incorporate activities and discussions related to these topics in their daily lessons and provide opportunities for students to practice and develop these skills.

We can also establish SEL-focused extracurricular activities, such as peer mentoring or community service projects, which can provide students with additional opportunities to develop their social and emotional skills.

Furthermore, we can organize workshops for teachers, counselors, and other staff members to learn about SEL and how to integrate it into their work with students. This will help us ensure all staff members have the knowledge and skills to support student development.

Finally, we can involve parents and guardians in the SEL implementation process by sharing information about SEL and how they can support their children’s development of social and emotional skills at home.

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Implementing SEL at Kunwar’s Global School benefits our students and enhances their academic and personal success.

Author – Dr. Dheeraj Mehrotra, Principal, Kunwar’s Global School, Lucknow

 

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Building Empathy and Understanding in Classroom

Cognitive empathy involves understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings, and emotional empathy involves sharing another person’s emotions

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Fostering deeper connections and creating an ecology of trust, and empathy helps students understand and communicate better.

In a world moving ahead at lightning speed, creating a conducive classroom setting is vital where students learn to empathize and understand one another. Building empathy and understanding in the classroom fosters creativity and creates a pool of extremely agile yet sensitive students who are intelligent, brave, and know the fine line between leadership and arrogance.

Students can develop social skills and emotional intelligence that will serve them well. In this article, we shall explore the meaning of empathy and why it is important to have innately rooted in one another.

What is Empathy?

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Empathy involves a deep understanding and sharing of the feelings of one another. It is a complex cognitive and emotional process that allows us to connect with others on a deep level.

Cognitive empathy involves understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings, and emotional empathy involves sharing another person’s emotions.

How Can We Build a Pool of Empathetic Students?

To build and understand relationships among students, we need to take them through the best outcomes of it. Let’s say we make them aware that kindness is key to getting help in the toughest of times, it is your people that matter the most and helps you succeed in your goals, and how better person we become as we embrace feelings of empathy for one another, that’s when we can create an ecology of learners keen to help and trust each other.

By learning to empathize with one another, students can develop stronger connections and better communicate their thoughts and feelings.

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Importance of Empathy in Building Classroom Relationships

Empathy is a critical component of building understanding and relationships in the classroom. When students are able to empathize, they collaborate effectively and resolve conflicts positively. They appreciate differences and form meaningful connections with their peers.

Students who feel understood and valued by their peers are more likely to feel safe and supported in the classroom, which can lead to better academic performance and overall well-being.

Benefits of Building Empathy and Understanding in the Classroom

From improved academic performances to improved cognitive and emotional competencies, building empathy and understanding in the classroom can have numerous benefits for students, teachers, and the classroom community as a whole.

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• Improved Communication

When students learn to empathize with one another, they are better able to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts in a positive manner. This can lead to more productive classroom discussions, better teamwork, and more successful learning outcomes.

• Increased Diversity and Inclusion

Building empathy and understanding fosters a diverse and inclusive classroom environment. By appreciating and respecting differences, students can feel more valued and accepted.

• Higher Academic Achievement

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Students who feel safe and supported in the classroom are more likely to be engaged and motivated to learn. This can lead to higher academic achievement and better outcomes for all students.

• Enhanced Social Skills

Empathy is a critical component of social skills and emotional intelligence. By building empathy and understanding in the classroom, students can develop stronger social skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

A study published in the journal “Educational Psychology Review” found that programs that focus on building empathy and social skills can lead to improved academic achievement, higher levels of social competence, and better mental health outcomes.

Strategies for Building Empathy and Understanding in the Classroom

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From creating a safe bubble for students to inspiring them to interact and perform group-based tasks, there’s plenty we can do to shape students who are passionate & compassionate!

• Create a Safe & Supportive Environment

A safe learning environment is essential for building empathy and understanding. Teachers can have clear expectations for behavior and create a positive classroom culture that promotes respect and inclusion.

• Fostering Empathy and Understanding Among Students

Teachers must inspire students to share their experiences and perspectives, promote active listening skills, and encourage students to see situations from different viewpoints.

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• Modeling Empathetic Behaviour for Students
Teachers can model empathetic behavior by being responsive to students’ needs, demonstrating active listening skills, and showing understanding of students’ emotions and experiences.

Role of Music in Building Empathy

Music can play a significant role in developing empathy in students. Music empowers you to evoke emotions, create connections, and promote understanding of others’ experiences, which can enhance students’ empathy.

1. Creating Emotional Connections: Music has the ability to evoke emotions in listeners. Students can connect emotionally with the music, which can help them understand the emotions that others experience, thus enhancing their ability to empathize with others.
2. Promoting Understanding of Diversity: Music is a universal language transcending cultural and linguistic barrier. By exposing students to diverse musical traditions and styles, they can learn about the cultural and social contexts in which music is created, helping them understand and appreciate different perspectives and experiences.
3. Fostering Collaboration: Learning music often involves collaboration, as students must work together to create and perform music. Through this process, they can learn to listen to others, work together, and appreciate each other’s contributions, promoting understanding among students.
4. Encouraging Reflection: Music can encourage reflection and self-awareness. By listening to and creating music, students can develop a sound understanding of emotions and experiences.

Building empathy and understanding in the classroom is essential for creating a positive and supportive learning environment that benefits all students. By implementing strategies and overcoming common challenges, teachers can help their students develop the social and emotional skills they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom.

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Author – Dharini Upadhyaya, Co-founder, Furtados School of Music, Mumbai

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Mathematics Education: Moving Beyond the Idea of Abstraction

The current syllabus-based approach to teaching mathematics often focuses on abstract concepts without providing students with a clear understanding of how these concepts fit into the larger picture

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For many years, mathematics has been viewed as an abstract subject, one that is only accessible to a select few.  However, this perception is flawed, and it is time to move beyond the idea of abstraction in mathematics education.

To begin with, it is essential to acknowledge that mathematics deals with concepts that are not inherently abstract. Numbers, functions, and geometric shapes are all tangible objects that we encounter in our daily lives. It is only when we begin to delve deeper into these concepts that they may become a little bit abstract. However, this does not mean that mathematics, as a whole, is an abstract subject.

Furthermore, the idea that mathematical concepts may not have a direct connection to real-life scenarios is also flawed. The opposite is true. To make mathematics more accessible to students, we should use real-life scenarios and examples to help students understand the mathematical concepts they are learning. By doing so, we can help students connect abstract concepts to concrete, tangible examples.

For instance, consider the following example: a carpenter needs to determine the length of a diagonal brace for a structure. By using the Pythagorean theorem, the carpenter can calculate the length of the brace based on the measurements of the other sides of the structure. This demonstrates how mathematical concepts can be applied to real-world scenarios.

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It is also important to note that mathematical concepts do not exist in isolation. Instead, they are part of a larger system of interconnected ideas. By showing students how these concepts fit into a larger framework, we can help them understand the relevance and importance of what they are learning. This can help to break down the perception of mathematics as an abstract subject and make it more approachable for all students.

Another significant factor contributing to the perception of mathematics as an abstract subject is the existing mathematics education system. The current syllabus-based approach to teaching mathematics often focuses on abstract concepts without providing students with a clear understanding of how these concepts fit into the larger picture. Instead, we should adopt a more modelling and animation-based approach that can explain any known mathematical concept through models and animations.

In response to these challenges, we have developed a novel approach to teaching mathematics – DassMath. The new technique comprises a few tools that can convert any mathematical concept into geometrical shapes. Three broad tools/steps comprise the “DassMath”: Plotting graphs in MS Excel, Matrix Multiplication for Transformations, and Creating Animation. These common tools can be used in solving any problems in any sphere of life. By utilizing these tools, we can show students how mathematical concepts fit into real-world scenarios and make mathematics more approachable.

As an example, consider the image which demonstrates how a transformation matrix can be used to reflect a geometric shape across a line. This not only shows the practical application of matrix multiplication but also helps students understand how mathematical concepts can be used to solve real-world problems.

In conclusion, it is time to move beyond the idea of abstraction in mathematics education. By using real-life scenarios and examples, showing students how mathematical concepts fit into a larger framework, and adopting a more modelling and animation-based approach to teaching, we can help to break down the perception of mathematics as an abstract subject and make it more approachable for all students. It is time to shift the narrative and recognize that mathematics is a tangible subject that can be understood and enjoyed by everyone.

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Author – Chanchal Dass, FIE, Founder and Chairman, Dass Scientific Research Labs Private Limited Ahmedabad, Gujarat

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SEL in the Classroom: Strategies for Successful Integration into Curriculum

Man is a social and gregarious animal and therefore we need to get along with family, friends, neighbors, etc – if nothing – learn to go along to get along.

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Today, there is a lot of talk about social and emotional skills; there are talks, seminars, podcasts, etc—what needs to be taught and how and when. Of course, everything has to be taught in schools; parents have no time – they are working from home / from the office so the duty falls on the teacher almost entirely as does the blame if something is not learned. SEL doesn’t work that way. Unlike subjects, these skills are very cultural, flexible, and contextual but in whichever age or society we live in there are some basic skills we need to have. Man is a social and gregarious animal and therefore we need to get along with family, friends, neighbors, etc – if nothing – learn to go along to get along.

Having said that what do we as teachers need to teach, at what stage should they be taught and how do we ensure that what we teach makes sense to the children and therefore is learned?

Among the social skills, communication needs to be given top priority. Rather than making a boring list of skills I would like to be specific, brief, and precise. Speaking could be subdivided into skills to discern what to speak and what not to speak for example. As a rule, it is linked to empathy but before that recognizing one’s own and other’s feelings is also linked to honesty. A thumb rule- if you think what you are about to say will hurt the other person’s feelings, keep your thoughts to yourself.

After the what, comes how to say—one has to be honest but need not be brutally so. So, this is linked to tact and diplomacy without being dishonest or unnecessarily flattering.

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Then comes when to say what you want to say—judging the appropriacy of time is important too. This is linked to patience and sensitivity.

Very often, especially in our country, listening is not considered a skill. Kids are encouraged to talk to “gain confidence” but never taught to shut up and listen. They are growing up with a lot of noise surrounding them –of various kinds. This leads to narcissism and an undue notion of self-importance. So, listening develops respect for other’s thoughts and opinions, refection, tolerance, and acceptance of diversities, respect for others’ knowledge and experiences, etc

Emotional skills deal primarily with recognizing and admitting one’s own feelings and therefore those of others. Culturally we do not encourage kids to show or express their emotions—partly because as adults we ourselves do not know how to deal with feelings—we have hardly been taught and we have very few words in the vernacular to express the myriads of feelings. So, feelings are very often suppressed. This is somehow in my opinion inextricably linked to values like courtesy, integrity, gratitude, respect for elders, helpfulness, respect for the disabled and underprivileged, respecting boundaries and personal space, justice, ability to take a No—the list goes on—it is never exhaustive as I said it keeps changing and we need to be flexible as to the degree it can be enforced. At some stage, we must allow kids to make their own choices.

I am reminded of two very apt pieces I have read- one is a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte-Children Learn What They Live. The other is a book ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. They both talk about everything there needs to be said on the above topic. I will nevertheless attempt to explain how some of these can be taught.

Let me start by saying that it is no longer a ‘Do as I say”-it is a ‘Do as I do” world and I think rightly so. Today kids starting from the KG classes need to understand the why of everything.

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So, as they undertake individual or group play they can be taught fair play, sharing, patience to wait for one’s turn for toys, etc, talking softly, saying sorry if they have unintentionally hurt another, saying thank you for receiving something, putting things back, perseverance to complete a job, doing things as best as they can and so on. They also learn not to take things that do not belong to them.

They learn empathy when another child is hurt and is crying, learn what the teachers are doing to comfort him/ her, they also can subconsciously learn words to describe some feelings upon which they can build.

In Class they can be taught to speak one at a time- patience, consideration for others, respect for the teacher—how to show that respect and why, hoping this will be extended to the older family members at home. They can be taught to ask for things politely and a zillion other thing.

Certain aspects of behavior are very cultural like standing up when a teacher enters and wishing them, not touching each other, appropriacy of clothes which is steadily merging with that of the West, revealing clothes for example, modesty is very Indian. According to me, we can teach the Indian way and as the kids grow older be allowed to make their own choices based on the society they move with. Celebrations are also very cultural and Indian.

Now I shall mention some issues in the teaching of both communication skills and social and emotional skills. There is no clear consensus among the parents themselves and/or teachers themselves as to what is the right thing to teach. They are very often confused. Hence that confusion is passed on to the kids. Sometimes it is ok not to stand up when the teacher enters the class- some insist- some don’t, some are ‘friends’ with the kids’ others are strictly teachers and so are the parents. Parents and teachers can only be friendly with kids-they can never be their friends. The issue is that they have blurry lines as boundaries – and when kids cross that boundary, the parents and teachers are offended not realizing they are the ones that did not define the boundaries.

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So, in India the issues in teaching social and emotional skills are many, and as long as the migration of people back and forth to the West and East continues and inter-marriages continue, there is going to be a constant fluid state and this transient stage is what we will have to live with for some decades till the cultures merge and stabilize.

Children Learn What They Live—by Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism,

They learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility,

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They learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,

They learn to be shy.

If children live with shame,

They learn to feel guilty.

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If children live with encouragement,

They learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance,

They learn to be patient.

If children live with praise,

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They learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance,

They learn to love.

If children live with approval,

They learn to like themselves.

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If children live with honesty,

They learn truthfulness.

If children live with security,

They learn to have faith in themselves and others.

If children live with friendliness,

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They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

The author Robert Fulghum very nicely says – ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School.

 Author – Bhavani Raghunandan, Director, Vidya Mandir Sss, Chennai

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Innovative Solutions: Using Ed-Tech to Enhance SEL Skills and Promote Student Success

With SEL practices come opportunities for students to learn some of the most important social-emotional skills, like self-awareness, goal setting, social awareness, and more

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As many teachers know, there’s always some new form of pedagogy to implement in teaching to improve learning outcomes for students. As an educator in Sunbeam Ballia, our faculty learned a whole lot about social-emotional learning, which many in the education world now refer to simply as SEL. I discovered this pedagogy to be extremely important for me while educating diverse sets of students. While students learn many intellectual skills in the classroom, that impact can plateau without a strong social-emotional core.

Technology can help students be more comfortable sharing their experiences. For example, our students can create a video diary to document their daily activities and reflect on their emotions and reactions to different situations. Using tools such as Flip to record a reflection, or capturing ideas using Canva or Adobe Creative, or Cloud Express to create visual representations of their emotions or design a timeline of their progress and set goals, can help. Digital tools such as Kahoot, Quizizz, and Google Forms help create self-assessment quizzes for students. With these tools, students can self-assess their knowledge, skills, and attitudes and receive authentic, meaningful, and timely feedback on their performance.

Creating digital portfolios with tools like Spaces EDU, Book Creator, and other similar tools allows students to explore the evidence of the work they have done. This shifts their focus to the process of learning itself. Finally, personalized learning plans through choice boards, class playlists, or HyperDocs lead to increased student engagement, improved self-awareness, and greater metacognition, and give students more control over their learning.

There are many benefits of social-emotional learning, including helping students learn to work as part of a team, helping them manage their own emotions in the classroom, and helping them build stronger connections to their school work among others.

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With SEL practices come opportunities for students to learn some of the most important social-emotional skills, like self-awareness, goal setting, social awareness, and more. And, when adding educational technologies in the school, they can unlock new sets of benefits and expand the power of SEL.

Expressing emotions in a social setting – The connection between SEL and technology, when you think about it, is a fairly logical one. This is because students can create more authentic learning when they use tech tools in a real way. Linking instructional content to both their emotions and using technology helps make the content much more real. It also generally results in students showing greater amounts of interest and passion.

Tech Enhances Social-Emotional Learning – Though not commonly associated with social-emotional learning and social and emotional skills, students can certainly learn other relevant skills through SEL experiences. These include skills like persistence, practicing empathy, problem-solving, and redesigning experiments to overcome previous failed attempts. Particularly when educational technology comes into play, the ability to persist through failures can take a lot of different routes. Besides this, technology can align with SEL in a few different ways. Students may start to connect more deeply with academic content and develop more meaningful intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. Not only is there potential for EdTech incorporation to make SEL more meaningful, but there’s also potential for it to help students learn key 21st-century skills in the process.

Teachers can use various tools to better understand how students are doing with SEL skill development and their overall mindsets. They can try formative assessments or capture other forms of data to show students how they can improve. This is especially useful if they exhibit negative behavior at any point ( but, educators can also track positive behavior).

Surprising SEL tools for the classroom

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Other forms of technology can also help students manage their emotions throughout the day. Devices like smartwatches, for example, can track stress by measuring key physiological indicators and relay that feedback to teachers. They can then use that information to offer an alternative option for those students. Technologies like virtual and augmented reality are also viable in situations like this. If teachers sense a student is frustrated, stressed out, or anxious, specialized VR content can help them return to their comfort zone. AR or VR can immerse students in deep breathing exercises, for example, redirecting their entire focus until they’re okay. Essentially, it all comes back to making sure students are functioning at a high level socially and emotionally. Then, they can get the most out of learning with help from technology.

Students can use digital platforms, like Flipgrid or Wakelet, to share their thoughts or new things they’ve learned on important topics. By voicing real emotions, they can better connect with the content, their peers, and themselves—the main goals of SEL.

The Social-Emotional Learning Foundation in Different Subjects

One way to bring technology into social-emotional learning is when teaching public speaking. Many children (and adults) get nervous about public speaking, so educators can use this as an opportunity to help students manage those emotions. One example is teachers using a microphone in class and handing it to students when they have a question. This helps them feel more comfortable in class discussions or when answering questions. And, this added real-world relevance can help them overcome fears of speaking in front of an audience. Another way to help is by making time for students to self-reflect. Many social-emotional skills have to do with self-improvement and things students can do on their own. Reflecting on, recognizing, and recording examples of positive behavior can help them build on what they did right.

Using Robotics for Education and SEL

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Finally, educational robotics has shown promising results as a technology that helps with social-emotional development in kids. Particularly when students have social or language disorders, they can use various educational robotics tools to communicate by programming the robot to say certain messages or execute certain actions that indicate how they’re feeling.

Author – Arpita Singh, Principal, Sunbeam School, Ballia, UP

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Connecting through Technology: How Edtech Can Facilitate Social and Emotional Learning

Technology has always been given a negative image, especially for children but when used in the right ways it can do wonders for us and more for our children

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The purpose of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is to help students build relevant connections in and beyond the classrooms. Initially, SEL was considered just another branch of instruction, however, it has now gained momentum as there are lifestyle changes around children. Emotional connections, empathy, self-awareness, and communication are skills that students miss out on due to the unavailability of family attention, lack of interaction, and more.

This directly affects their ability to make connections when they grow up, to have their voice, or expand their minds. SEL can be achieved through non-tech activities like group discussions, guided learning activities, storytelling and more but introducing tech into the classroom takes it to the next level.

Technology and emotions are probably never going to be on the same side for anyone. What’s technical cannot have emotions and vice versa as we have always believed.

Technology has always been given a negative image, especially for children but when used in the right ways it can do wonders for us and more for our children.

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It is undeniable that the next generation will continue to use technology for everything. From waking up to sleeping through apps is how they’d probably go through life. With technology being such an important part of our lives, it only makes sense that we accept that NOW technology probably plays a vital role in developing our emotions too, or at least it has the power to influence our emotions. It is now our choice to leverage it or to consider it as a boon entirely.

I would pick my side of leveraging technology because let’s accept that tech is here to stay! We need to make the most out of it for our children to enhance their Social Emotional, Cognitive, or even physical Learning. One of the greatest benefits technology gives us is “freedom”. Freedom to customize a student’s learning journey according to their interests, and what they actually care about leads to greater engagement levels and ultimately achieves greater results.

Using technology in our classrooms through smart boards, smart toys, cameras, and learning platforms can help students learn collaboration, communication, and sometimes even frustration. Although education technologies aren’t capable of replacing human interaction, they can make those interactions more meaningful and help enhance learning experiences for students through continuous targeted assessments.

For example, using smart boards for storytelling in preschool classrooms can lead to a longer engagement for students followed by quick assessments and auto-generated feedback. This not just reduces the workload for teachers but also gives a far-more detailed analysis. The use of technology, however, has to be balanced especially in preschool so students are not exposed to screens too much. It can be designed into a daily schedule where a fixed hour for story-telling is done through smart boards. Technology can help us make them familiar with phonetic sounds, images, and experiences with no hassle.

Connecting student emotions with technology and enhancing their experience can help us achieve their developmental goals quicker and more efficiently. A student dealing with a tech app in the classroom learns about sharing, asking for help, collaborating with his peers, and creating value with a more futuristic approach through technology.

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Problem-solving can also be addressed through smart tools popularly used in robotics which lead to cognitive development in students. Robotics helps students understand complex problems and come up with creative solutions on their own. Particularly when students have social or language disorders, they can use various educational robotics tools to communicate by programming the robot to say certain messages or execute certain actions that indicate how they’re feeling. Technology can help in tracking progress and engaging them by giving guidance and feedback. Another way technology helped us was communication through apps like Zoom or skype. Students can talk to their friends who are traveling during holidays and know their experiences, in turn, develop their communication skills.

While technology is still daunting for most teachers, especially in low-budget schools in our country, it has still made its way to our classrooms through YouTube or Pinterest for starters. Educators are increasingly benefitted from these apps to learn activities that could help in the social and emotional development of their students. However, we still have a long way to go. Educators need to first understand why social-emotional learning is important and then how technology is such a brilliant tool to help them connect better with their students. The lack of training for teachers makes them fear technology and consider it an additional burden which is not true.

Technology has made its way into all classrooms even in rural areas but the challenge now is how to use it effectively which can only be resolved through teacher training and awareness.

Author – Ankita Pareek, Director, EDuBrain Schools & Softel Educare Pvt Ltd.

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Whole-Child Education: Approaches to Develop SEL Competencies in Students

Students who are equipped to deal with problems that affect them on a personal level are then better able to navigate the pressures of adult life

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Today’s world is ever-diversifying with people having different religions, beliefs, capabilities, etc. One should be equipped with certain skills to adjust well in today’s world. The classroom is the place where children are first exposed to humans who hail from a range of different backgrounds, hold differing beliefs, and have unique capabilities. Classrooms should aim at the holistic development of students to make them productive, self-aware, and socially aware citizens. SEL or Social- Emotional Learning aims at the same.

SEL is a methodology by which students are helped to understand and feel their emotions and not only learn empathy, self-regulation, persistence, self-awareness, and mindfulness but demonstrate as well. These learned skills help students take positive, responsible decisions, make positive relationships with others, and create a framework to achieve their goals.

SEL involves five core competencies that can be applied in the classroom, at home, and in students’ communities. These five core competencies are:
1. Self-awareness: the ability to identify and assess your thoughts, feelings, and values, as well as how they intersect with your behaviors
2. Self-management: the ability to not only identify but regulate emotions, thoughts, and actions
3. Responsible decision-making: the ability to make positive, constructive choices about your behavior
4. Social awareness: the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, as well as learn social and ethical behavior
5. Relationship skills: the ability to get along and make meaningful connections with people in their life.

Here are some approaches to teaching these five skills to students

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Self-Awareness

Self-awareness can be developed by:
a) Mindfulness Meditation – a Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the present and accept one’s circumstances. It is a self-awareness skill that can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. To teach mindfulness in class, put on a guided meditation recording or read one aloud to your students. Encourage them to put their thoughts and feelings aside and focus on the meditation as much as they can. For younger students, simpler breathing exercises can be tried to help them develop mindfulness.
b) Reflective Writing – Reflective writing helps students develop self-awareness, empathy, and compassion. Students can be given five to ten minutes during a period (especially in languages) to write about a prompt that encourages self-reflection. By practicing reflective writing every day, students can
learn to consider their thoughts and feelings in a self-aware way. Here are a few prompts that encourage self-analysis:
When was the happiest moment in your life? Why was it so happy?
What is your wildest dream?
Who is your best friend and how does he/she make you feel?
Why is kindness important?
What things do you like and dislike about yourself and why?

Self-Management
a) Self-Management Party Games – There are many popular children’s games through which children can be taught how to regulate their behaviors. Turn on some music, sort children into groups, and play any of these well-known games that model self-management:
• Musical Chairs • Follow the Leader • Red Rover • Wait Five • Simon Says
After playing these games, bring your students back together for a class discussion on what they learned about listening and being respectful to others.
b) SMART Goal Challenge – In social and emotional learning, self-motivation is an essential component. This activity helps students learn self-management. At the beginning of the month or quarter, work with each student to set a SMART goal for themselves which should be Specific, Measurable, Agreed-Upon, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Observe your students several times throughout the month to measure their progress and support them if any challenges arise.

Responsible Decision-Making
a) Class Contract – Class Contracts can help students develop responsible decision-making. Putting a contract together with your students will surely make them feel that their voices are heard and they are listened to. To make this activity interesting and exciting for students, treats, and rewards for meeting academic goals can be included.
b) Student Council – Teachers should involve their entire class in the student council. By bringing your students to a platform to discuss classroom needs and upcoming events and to take appropriate decisions, the whole class can be involved in the responsible decision-making process.

Social Awareness
a) Classroom Service Projects – Service activities connect students to the world around them in a fun and meaningful way. Through classroom service activities when they help others, students develop empathy. Here are a few service project ideas:
• Donate clothing and books to nearby slum areas or underprivileged communities.
• Visit a local nursing home or an orphanage.
• Clean up litter around your school or in a nearby area.
• Raise money for your school or a charity through a bake sale
b) Diversity Story Time – Teaching diversity in the classroom is an essential component of social awareness. During read-aloud story times, the teacher must keep in mind that stories should be about people of different cultures, races/ethnicities, religions, and other backgrounds. After reading one of these books to your students, discuss how differences make the world a better place and ask what they learned from the story.

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Relationship Skills
a) Team Puzzle Game – To play this game, divide your students into teams of three to five and give each one a jigsaw puzzle to put together. Then instruct them to complete the puzzle by working together as a group. To encourage teamwork and add challenge, give your students a time limit for completing the puzzle. When students work together, even younger grades can put together complex puzzles. Your students will be amazed by how much they can get done with a little collaboration.
b) Fairy Tale Read-alongs – Conflict resolution is a skill that helps students throughout their lives to develop and keep better relationships. Fairy tale read-along can help your class learn this skill. Choose a beloved fairy tale to read as a class, like Union Is Strength, Goldilocks, the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. As you read the story to your students, ask them the following questions:
What is this story’s main conflict?
How can the characters work together to make everyone happy?

Students who are equipped to deal with problems that affect them on a personal level are then better able to navigate the pressures of adult life. When educators are able to see which students do not grasp the core pillars of SEL, they can better work with them at an early age and help these students develop better self-control, empathy, and other positive qualities. Learning positive behaviors that extend beyond a purely academic level of achievement can help these students develop the “soft skills” required of many jobs, such as teamwork, and ability to understand others, and problem-solving. This can help set these students up for success throughout their school years and beyond.

Author – Aman Kumar Kanwar, Principal, Director, MBLMIS Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

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Building Stronger Communities: Approaches to Developing SEL Competencies in Students

One way to foster empathy and understanding in the classroom is to create a safe and inclusive learning environment

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Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world. – Barack Obama

Empathy is on the decline and is a matter to worry about. The modern world is a world full of people whose actions and reactions are often self-interest motivated. The incidents of road rage, honor killing, communal riots, and terror attacks are on the rise and display a dark side of society with less or no empathy at all.

As a principal, I believe that building empathy and understanding in the classroom is critical to creating a positive and inclusive learning environment. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and the ability to comprehend the perspectives and experiences of others. When students develop these skills, they become better equipped to navigate the complexities of the world around them and are more likely to build strong relationships with others.

One way to foster empathy and understanding in the classroom is to create a safe and inclusive learning environment. Teachers can encourage open and respectful communication by modeling it themselves, and by setting clear expectations for behavior and language. They can also incorporate diverse perspectives and experiences into the curriculum, and provide opportunities for students to learn from each other through group projects and discussions.

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Another way to build empathy is to incorporate experiential learning opportunities, such as service-learning projects, that allow students to interact with individuals from different backgrounds and communities. These types of experiences can help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the challenges and experiences of others.

Teachers should create an environment where all students feel valued, respected, and included. This can be achieved by setting clear expectations for behavior, modeling positive interactions, and addressing incidents of bullying or exclusion promptly. They should encourage students to consider different perspectives by asking them to put themselves in the shoes of others. This could involve asking students to write from the perspective of a character in a book, or to role-play different scenarios, including collaborative learning activities, group discussions, and projects that require students to work together to achieve a common goal. By providing these opportunities, teachers can help students develop important social and emotional skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Teachers can teach students conflict resolution skills such as compromise, and negotiation, which will help students to develop the skills they need to navigate disagreements and build positive relationships with others.

Teachers can teach students to be active listeners by encouraging them to ask questions, paraphrase what they’ve heard, and reflect on what they’ve learned. This helps students to build deeper connections with their peers and develop stronger communication skills.

Additionally, schools can support the development of empathy and understanding by implementing programs that promote social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL programs provide students with the tools and resources they need to develop important skills such as empathy, self-awareness, and responsible decision-making. These programs can include curriculum-based lessons, school-wide initiatives, and counseling services.

Practicing mindfulness is very important. Schools can have Yoga sessions for a positive environment. The learners can be involved in community outreach programs. Surroundings cleaning drives can be conducted. Activities to minimize the wastage of resources and their conservation must be an integral part of their learning experience.

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In summary, the role of schools and teachers in building empathy and understanding in the classroom is critical for creating a positive learning environment that supports the social and emotional development of students. By modeling empathy and understanding, providing opportunities for students to engage with one another, and implementing SEL programs, teachers and schools can help students develop the skills they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom.

Author – Alka Kapur, Principal, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi

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A New Era of Possibilities: Embracing the Metaverse

Metaverse is not just a new world, but a new way of experiencing reality and unlocking human potential

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“Welcome to the Metaverse, a new reality where physical and digital worlds merge to create infinite possibilities for exploration, collaboration, and innovation.”

The concept of the Metaverse has been around for some time, but recent advancements in technology have made it more accessible and feasible than ever before. Metaverse refers to a virtual space where users can interact with each other and digital objects in a 3D environment. It is a new world that offers endless possibilities for entertainment, education, and social interaction. In this article, we will explore the concept of the Metaverse, its potential applications, and its impact on society.

What is Metaverse?

Metaverse is a term used to describe a virtual space that is created using advanced technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). It is a space where users can interact with each other and digital objects in a 3D environment that mimics the real world. The concept of Metaverse is similar to the virtual world depicted in science fiction movies such as The Matrix and Ready Player One.

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The Metaverse is not a single platform or technology but rather a combination of different technologies that work together to create a virtual world. These technologies include VR and AR devices, 3D modeling software, artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. Together, they enable the creation of a fully immersive digital environment where users can interact with each other and digital objects.

Potential Applications of Metaverse

The potential applications of Metaverse are numerous and varied. Some of the most promising applications include:

  • Entertainment:Metaverse offers a new way to experience entertainment. It can be used to create immersive games, concerts, and other experiences that are not possible in the real world. For example, a virtual concert in Metaverse can bring together people from different parts of the world to enjoy music together.
  • Education:Metaverse can be used to create immersive learning environments that can help students learn more engagingly and interactively. For example, students can explore historical sites, science labs, and other places in the Metaverse.
  • Social Interaction:Metaverse can be used to create social networks where people can interact with each other in a more immersive and engaging way. It can be used to create virtual communities, where people can come together to discuss shared interests and hobbies.
  • Commerce:Metaverse can be used to create virtual marketplaces where people can buy and sell digital goods and services. For example, virtual real estate in Metaverse can be bought and sold just like real-world property.

Impact of Metaverse on Society

The impact of the Metaverse on society is yet to be fully understood. However, it has the potential to change the way we interact with each other and the world around us. Here are some of the potential impacts of Metaverse on society:

  • Increased Social Interaction:Metaverse can enable people to interact with each other in ways that are not possible in the real world. This can lead to increased social interaction and a sense of community.
  • New Economic Opportunities:Metaverse can create new economic opportunities by enabling the creation of virtual marketplaces and digital goods and services. This can lead to the creation of new jobs and industries.
  • Increased Privacy Concerns:Metaverse will require users to share personal information and data to create a personalized experience. This raises privacy concerns and the need for data protection.
  • New Challenges:Metaverse will present new challenges such as cybercrime, addiction, and virtual bullying. These challenges will need to be addressed to ensure a safe and healthy environment.

Here are a few potential ways that Metaverse can help teachers:

  • Immersive Learning Environments: Metaverse can be used to create immersive learning environments that can help students learn more engagingly and interactively. Teachers can use Metaverse to create virtual classrooms where students can explore and interact with digital objects, such as historical artifacts or scientific experiments.
  • Virtual Field Trips:Metaverse can be used to create virtual field trips, allowing students to explore different parts of the world and experience different cultures without leaving the classroom. For example, a history teacher could use Metaverse to take students on a virtual tour of ancient ruins.
  • Collaborative Learning:Metaverse can be used to create collaborative learning environments where students can work together on group projects and activities. Teachers can use Metaverse to facilitate group discussions and provide feedback in real time.
  • Personalized Learning:Metaverse can be used to create personalized learning experiences that cater to each student’s individual needs and interests. Teachers can use Metaverse to create customized learning paths and activities for students based on their learning styles and progress.
  • Professional Development:Metaverse can be used for professional development purposes, allowing teachers to attend virtual conferences and workshops from anywhere in the world. Teachers can also collaborate with other educators and share best practices through Metaverse.

Conclusion

Metaverse is a new world that offers endless possibilities for entertainment, education, and social interaction. It is a combination of different technologies that work together to create a virtual space where users can interact with each other and digital objects in a 3D environment. While the impact of Metaverse on society.

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Overall, Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn by providing immersive and engaging learning experiences.

In conclusion, the Metaverse represents an exciting new frontier in the world of technology and digital innovation. As this new world continues to evolve and expand, it is sure to have a profound impact on the way we learn, works, and interact with one another. By embracing the potential of the Metaverse, we can unlock new possibilities for collaboration, creativity, and human connection, and create a brighter future for ourselves and generations to come.

Metaverse is not just a new world, but a new way of experiencing reality and unlocking human potential.”

Author – Seema Negi, Global Goodwill Ambassador, Director Principal, Sanjeevani World School, Dahisar, Mumbai

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Beyond the Classroom: The Power of Outdoor Education

Outdoor Learning can help to bring many school subjects alive.

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In the country known for ‘Gurukul’ where the ‘Guru’ used to train the ‘Shishya’ outdoors, Outdoor Education is not new. Outdoor Education is a term with much relevance in times of Experiential and Competency-based Learning. It provides a first-hand experience that lasts a lifetime, broadens horizons, and stimulates new interests.

‘Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn’ rightly said by Benjamin Franklin. With the rapidly developing newer tools and techniques to stimulate the child’s brain, the importance of Outdoor Education cannot be undermined.

Outdoor Education is a type of Experiential Education that focuses on problem-solving and critical thinking rather than memorization and rote learning. Unlike traditional classroom situations where students may compete with one another or remain uninvolved or unmotivated and where the instruction is highly structured, students in outdoor experiential situations cooperate and learn from one another in a more semi-structured approach. As the Students are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully, and physically this involvement makes the learning task authentic.

Outdoor Education can be of different types depending on the pedagogical requirement, target age group, and academic/non-academic sources like Student Teaching Experiences, Volunteering, internships, and Field Work Experiences.

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During COVID Times I made short educational videos in my garden on vegetative propagation in plants, plant movements, biological control of snails, and parts of a flower for Class X students which they found very interesting. Point is that any experimentation and observation done by the student with his peers is retained forever. Based on Outdoor learning, the teacher can further build up on the concept with inputs from the students.

Outdoor Education is real learning. Not only does Outdoor Learning happen in the natural environment where the participants can see, hear, touch, and smell the real thing, but it also happens in an arena where actions have real results and consequences. Outdoor Learning can help to bring many school subjects alive.

In Delhi, visit monuments like Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort, Qutub Minar,  Natural History Museum, Hauz Khas Fort, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Jantar Mantar, Akshardham Temple, Lotus Temple, Lodhi Gardens, Purana Quila, Tughlaqabad Fort, Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Jahanpanah Fort, Jama Masjid, Safdarjung Tomb helps to appreciate the glorious past.

Field trips to Scientific Institutes like IARI, NRCPB, and IGIB give enormous exposure to the latest techniques in science and future job options.

Open Days organized by Medical and Engineering Institutes are great opportunities for the students to learn and are awe-inspiring. Observing Baolis (Water Harvesting Systems), Zoological Gardens, and Biodiversity Parks aids in creating awareness of the need to conserve the environment.

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It has to be planned skillfully by the tutor who should ensure that the learning experience happens in a positive and non-dominating way. Share your feelings and thoughts with your students and let them know that you are learning from the experience too. The teacher also has a role in providing relevant and meaningful resources to help students succeed and allow students to experiment and discover solutions on their own.

Outdoor Learning covers the acquisition or refinement of specific knowledge and skills as well as the sometimes more subtle changes in behaviors and attitudes that can lead to increased health and well-being and environmental awareness.

Author – Niva Chhonkar, Head Biology and biotechnology, Delhi Public School, R.K Puram, Delhi

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