I’m DeepaShetty, Principal of Bright Riders School Dubai. This is my 25th year in the field of education. The journey, though seemingly lengthy, has been full of learning and joyful moments and memories. Looking back, I realize that I have been lucky to have experienced all facets of school from a teacher across levels, to a curriculum developer, moving on to being a Vice Principal and then finally a Principal. In all these years, there have been moments when I felt it would have been a good idea to take a step back and reflect on my practices and tasks. The need for an objective diagnosis was never completely fulfilled till I came across the Adhyayan School Review program.
Having gone through the Adhyayan School Review for one of the schools I headed and being a part of reviews for other schools as Associate and Lead Assessor, I have gone through their entire school review process closely. One of the key learnings has been the impact of the Adhyayan school review on the school improvement action plan and the clarity it gives all stakeholders of the school regarding where the school is ‘now’ and to plan for where it needs to ‘go’.
As a part of the Adhyayan Assessors team, I personally have grown as an educator simply because I started envisaging school as a holistic environment with a 360-degree approach. It is an excellent platform to learn and share best practices across schools and grow together. School leaders and teachers should join the Adhyayan assessor team to gain perspective on the different challenges faced by other schools and their effortless attempts to overcome the constraints to provide a better environment for their students and teachers. School management should take a step back to reflect on their long-term vision for the school by conducting Adhyayan whole school reviews. All in all the takeaways from the entire Adhyayan community far outweigh any other considerations
MATUNGA-MUMBAI, NOVEMBER 10, 2012 : The times they are a-changing…so goes an old song. Technology has evolved – and is evolving – and so is education. A reluctant step forward, you are not in sync; a false step, you lose the race; and, a missed step, you have lost it altogether. The growing demands for excellence, accountability and consistency necessitated an audit from an external agency in the four Salesian schools of Mumbai: Don Bosco, Matunga, St. Joseph’s, Wadala, Dominic Savio, Andheri and Don Bosco, Borivili.
A chance meeting with the team leading Adhyayan Quality Education Services set in motion a process for a qualitative review of the four schools. The Adhyayan School Self-Review and Evaluation (SSRE) diagnostic has been developed around internationally recognized standards of schooling and is rooted in years of experience of conducting school audits globally. The diagnostic assesses schools on 6 Key Performance Areas (KPAs):
Leadership and Management
Teaching and Learning
The Community and Partnerships
Infrastructure and Resources
The Adhyayan School Self-Review and Evaluation (SSRE) is an important component of the Qualitative assessment. It is a structured practical reflection by the school community, based on the Adhyayan Quality Standard (AQS). It is the belief that there is an equal importance and value of the school self-review sitting alongside external verification and inspection. ‘Know thyself’ is the key to any school’s journey to achieving high quality, internationally accredited education standards. Hence the Adhyayan SSRE model deliberately has two complementary elements: school self-review and external evaluation.
The AQS has 4 tiers for evaluation: International, National (the 4 Salesian schools opted for this), State and Local. In all cases, the schools are evaluated with the same rigor as the international standard and use the same criteria.
To begin with, a time-table of the description of activity to undertake the SSRE for the 4 schools was sent to the respective Principals. The time period: Oct 29 to Nov. 9, 2012. This activity included:
The Orientation session for the School’s SSRE team (10-12 leaders identified from the Management, staff –teaching and non teaching, parents, students, alumni) led by Adhyayan Lead Assessors. They introduced the SSRE Model and Diagnostic to the leaders.
The schools SSRE team undertakes its own review (with no intervention by the Adhyayan).
External Evaluation by Adhyayan Lead Assessors.
Award (Platinum, Gold, Silver or Star) followed by Quality Dialogue and Action Plan for School Improvement with the school SSRE team.
Joint Conference (Adhyayan Lead Assessors and the 4 Principals) to have a shared understanding of their success stories and challenges.
The activity generated enthusiasm and a tremendous interest in the entire process of evaluation. Parents and students worked alongside the management and the staff for long hours of the day that always stretched beyond the schedule time, while the Adhyayan Lead Assessors led by the strapping and erudite Irishman, Mr. Spokey Wheeler, and curricula management guru, Ms. Kavita Anand provided the impetus for the animated discussions at the training sessions and meetings. The self-review was an exercise in introspection and honest dialogues, class observations and interactions, Learning Walks and Book Looks.
The quality dialogues that followed the evaluation by the Adhyayan Lead Assessors, were engaging – at times negotiations bordering on parleys (after all the leaders representing the school were passionate about their institution)-perky and riveting. It was time for action plans and targets, and the enthusiastic school band seemed equal to the task.
The joint conference of the Adhyayan lead assessors and the Principals was a forum to exchange the success stories, evaluate procedures, strategize and carry the action plan forward. The Adhyayan team has indeed left behind in their wake a string of success stories to celebrate, yet many other areas that need an honest reflection for change and excellence.
The face and view of education is constantly changing due to research and development and hence encourages educators and students to embrace new techniques and innovation to discover better approachesto solving problems. This leads to using varied instructional practices and it prompts students to use creative and cognitive thinking to analyse solutions to complex problems. Children must engage, grow and innovate not just with their curriculum but also with each other and the world around them. The classroom culture must cater to invite creative thinking, questions and also failure in order to grow and learn. Teachers must adapt different strategies and should be flexible to create a positive classroom culture to create opportunities for students to connect with the content, their peers, the environment and themselves.
Workshops are a great way to engage with fellow educators, share instructional practices and learn from experienced members in the field. The 10 different topics that Adyayan had curated were topics that I have been reading about but was eager to implement in the classroom. The workshops were more practical, hands on and gave a lot of understanding on how to go about implementing strategies in the real classroom. The engagement and exercises during the workshop pushed us to participate actively throughout the 90 minutes. Something I really appreciate about Adhyayan is their commitment to time and content!!
The outcome for me personally from these workshops were to focus on practical application in the classroom and to be able to share the knowledge with my colleagues at school. I have had a very diverse classroom this year in LKG which includes children with special needs, children who have not attended any formal school due to the pandemic, and a couple of children who were performing above basic standards. This prompted me to implement a number of techniques of differentiated instruction in the classroom to engage the students and manage the diverse set of students. I am currently pursuing my Master’s in Education and these workshops were a great sounding board for me as they included many topics that I am currently studying. I have also taken a few topics from the workshops attended and some material from my current educational degree to create some PD presentations for my peers and colleagues at school that focuses on creating “Equitable Classrooms”. In my point of view ‘Knowledge’ is to be shared and the more we share we learn and grow as individuals.
The panorama of education is changing and evolving constantly. It is a necessity and moral responsibility for educators to revisit and rethink approaches to teaching and learning. We are living in an era where the needs of learners are constantly varying. As, learning is an ongoing process, teaching methods and practices need reinvention and innovation over time. When we collectively conceive a clear idea of our objective, the experience leads to flexible paths that adapt creative approaches to instruction.
This prompted me to attend the workshops organized by Adhyayan. I would encourage educators to take this golden opportunity and renew and reinvent your instructional practices through these workshops.
Anu Pazhayannur Principal First Five Nursery School
Thanks Adhyayan and the wonderful team for an enriching learning experience!!
Panelists Guest 1: Rashmee Bhatia Principal J B Academy Ayodhya, former principal Blue Bells International School. subject matter expert in History with Manipal Global education in India.
Guest 2: Ms Seema Khurana Heading junior wing Khaitan Public School, former Principal Ryan International School Delhi
Guest 3: Mr Pankaj Bhalla Practicing architect, School Owner of Little Scholar school in Kashipur in Uttarakhand. Actively gives opportunities to students to work on the United Nations sustainable development goals by developing partnerships with Govt. institutions and NGOs and with many local social bodies in Kashipur Uttarakhand
Host Ms Jayshree Iyer
As the Government announced reopening of schools for students from class 9-12 recently, schools started preparing for the same. At such a time Adhyayan’s initiative to address concerns of parents was apt. Jayshree shared these concerns from the anxious parents regarding sending their children back to school after a long spell of staying in the protection of home especially when they are still without vaccination. These were going to be reference points for the educators and school leaders for further discussion in rest of the session.
Seema responded to many of them informing all about the kind of preparations that her school made like constituting a 16 -member committee coming from different levels for administration, taking care of the logistics for transport, teacher work station, toilets, sanitisation, thermal checks, medical aid, seating, time table and so on. Teachers, students and parents- all three stakeholders- were sensitized and informed about the standard operating procedure before actual re-opening of the schools. Consent was sought from parents; just 23% of them showed their willingness initially. As some changed their mind gradually, this data was tracked daily through digital intervention.
Individual care was given to each child. All DOs and DON’Ts were explained to students, parents as well as teachers. Constant monitoring of activities was done to ensure safety for all. Vaccination records and travel records were checked and ensured all contact persons were fully vaccinated or no possible-carriers of the virus were allowed to come in contact with them.
Rashmee resonated with Seema where SOP and other safety preparation were concerned. To reduce the number, students were called at different times. Along with academics, co-curricular activities were also carried out. Management took care of medical claims and COVID leaves for teachers. Even families affected by COVID were shown consideration with respect to their financial and emotional issues.
Mapping was done and displayed to clarify the location of all levels of helping hands in the school premises. Students were made to feel welcome as well as safe with decorations and safety-procedure posters all over. The staff members acted as role models by following COVID protocols. Sanitisers and extra masks were also made available.
Pankaj shared his concerns regarding student transportation and parents not paying fees. Apart from it, the misunderstanding was caused by rumours spread by media. The attendance was erratic due to the small coaching centres mushrooming in the locality. The timing was kept staggered for junior and senior students. The COVID protocol and other safety measures were followed as discussed by Rashmee and Seema.
Pankaj talked about the inertia that students and teachers faced about their unwillingness to work longer hours. The parents resisted extracurricular activities organised by the school for the younger lot. A similar situation was faced by Rashmee who organised de stressing activities like Jumba for senior students but same was not favored for junior students by their parents.
Talking about the workload distribution of teachers, classes had to be held online on alternate days. The focus was kept on concept delivery giving the mental-emotional health of students equal priority. Training was given to teachers and students on new ways of evaluation. Working on time table was a challenge as it had to be constantly modified. There was no tried and tested formula as everything remained in a flux.
Seema mentioned about travel fatigue as no one was used to commuting and staying in school anymore. Wearing masks for children was another problem especially when on the playground. Readjustment from online to offline mode met with inertia as Pankaj talked about.Connectivity issue and hardware compliance, managing their own transport and responsibility of the safety of children under their custody has already started stressing out teachers.
At the end, if schools have to work, these problems must be faced, in the opinion of all. Finally then what is the way forward?
As per common agreement- Student engagement in the hybrid classroom while following a strict protocol; The motivation of teachers has to be kept up; constant technical and administrative support was to be provided constantly.
Rashmee added to it that the improvisation had to be done in coaching for those students who are coming while others stay at home. Each subject could not be done each day in school. Similarly the ones not in school also need to be taught.
Pankaj shared the good news of junior children attending school in larger numbers. Not only that, they started making conversations like before. The outdoor activity that was based on something meaningful like making everyone aware of sustainable development goals could build a sense of trust that could alleviate the fears of children and parents.
Some persons in the audience also shared their experiences with the rest of the community about reopening of schools though they had similar concerns but while being part of the community where everyone is in the same boat, they felt confident to go ahead with their plans.
Rashmee submitted that sharing best practices with other schools as well as with parents helped them to bond with each other and solve most of the issues.
Pankaj raised the concern of judging the learning of students in offline and online mode. Rashmee clarified that use of a robust learning management system that helped them in collection of assignments,to monitor the classes, constant documentation of assessment data or even changing the pattern of assessment and constat formative assessments definitely were more helpful.
Jayshree summed up all the solutions discussed so far.
Both Jayshree along with Neha informed all present that as members of the Community of Practice, we can be a part of a smaller professional learning community by expressing our interest in it. When everything is undergoing drastic changes, Adhyayan community is playing the role of a mentor to build sound teaching practices and can supports us to get prepared with more robust preparation to combat the on going changes.
What is Artificial Intelligence? What can it do? What can it not do?
The Adhyayan’s Community of Practice organized a webinar on the 11th of September, 2021 on a rather interesting topic: Artificial Intelligence.
The session began with the speaker Ms. Jayshree Iyer introducing the panelist Dr. Sarabjot Singh Anand. During the course of the introduction, Jayshree put forth a quite simple yet thoughtful question forward to all the attendees – What comes to your mind when you hear the term Artificial Intelligence? The most frequent answers were: robotics or robots, automatic, ethics, not human intelligence, and anything you understand beyond your limits. Jayshree then proceeded to give a few examples of our day to day life where AI is actually used. This included bank payments, virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, and also our very own Aarogya Setu app, wherein we also see that approximate cases which might hit us are also predicted based on current data. Since schools have reopened in some places and are in the process of reopening, the authorities have asked the schools to integrate AI into their curriculum. With respect to this another question was put forth to the participants: What queries do you have regarding AI? Some of the replies were – In what areas does it replace humans, How can AI be used in a socially equitable way to strengthen learning for all; Does everyone in the coming generation need to learn coding and AI? Pertinent questions were put forth by the participants.
The stage was handed over to Dr. Sarabjot Singh Anand to explain all the nuances of Artificial Intelligence. He began by giving a brief history as to how AI was introduced into the world and how, after the world wars, the thought of using machines for something other than destruction was born. The mathematician Alan Turing was a trail blazer in this field as he was one of the persons who thought of using the probability theory and inculcating that into understanding and creating AI. Turing also said that the human brain is very much like a digital computer. Dr. Sarabjot went ahead and said that it is a very exciting time to be alive in a digital era; the reason why AI is very popular now is that there is so much digital data available. He drew parallels between a child and AI, in the sense that the way a child learns and understands new things through his senses, AI is a learning curve which keeps on soaking in information and data.
A question was posed as to how Artificial Intelligence can be used in teaching. Dr. Sarabjot said that while everyone knows that a domain model has to be set for the concepts, another model has to be created for the learner as well. So an assessment has to be carried out as to what that particular student is grasping. This is because every learner will understand a thing differently. He also mentioned that although some people think that teaching will be completely digitalised and taken over by AI, in the sense that teachers won’t be needed in the learning process, the fact is that the teachers are the ones who will direct and use the AI towards the betterment of the learner. The AI itself tends to be biased due to the fact that the people who have created or are creating the AI model are not the ones who will be using it; it’s the children who will be the recipients. The biggest risk for us as a nation in this field today is that we are not creating and stacking enough data. What this does is that we are relying heavily on the western world to provide us with that data. This is the reason why most of the times for any of our searches on data for any survey, we will find that the data is usually from the West.
The bottom line is that AI needs training. This is why AI is termed as a child. Just like a child, AI too will learn what we teach it. The education sector has a huge scope for the use of AI; we just need to understand that AI is our friend, not foe. It is not here to take away our jobs or replace us. Artificial Intelligence like it’s namesake is intelligence, and intelligence needs to be updated with the times, otherwise it is not intelligence anymore. Hence, AI can do a lot of things, but it also has many limitations as well. It can try to think like a human mind, but we all know that the mind is too complex to replicate completely. The mind uses causation, while AI uses correlation. This is where Artificial Intelligence is limited at the moment. In course of time, it will only get better and more refined.
The session was a thoroughly insightful one with tons of references to daily life. Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, and it will be an integral part of the future.
– Written by Mrs. Namrata Cheke, Teacher at Don Bosco High School, Matunga
Bridge is a mind sport that stimulates both the left and right sides of the brain. Playing bridge improves your skills in concentration, communication, logic, imagination, lateral thinking, mathematics, memory, patience, multitasking, visualization, and psychology. Learning Bridge is also linked with improved academic performance. There was one study done in America which links increased test scores in children with playing Bridge.
A study released by the College of Medicine of Yeshiva University found "Playing chess, bridge or a musical instrument significantly lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, according to the most comprehensive study to examine the benefits of challenging intellectual activity among the elderly."