Principal- speak at webinar ‘ REINVENTING LEARNING 3’

Posted by on May 20, 2020 in School News | Comments Off

A webinar on Reinventing Learning was conducted by Ignited Mindz, a STEM Education organization, on 15 May 2020 at 4 pm. The event was live-streamed on youtube with almost 500 views while the Zoom Meet admitted, 107 educators.

Ms Tania Joshi, Principal was one of the key speakers on the eminent panel comprising of Asia’s top five educators. Other speakers included Mr AP Sharma, Principal, Birla Public School, Doha, Ms Sangeeta Dhamija, Principal, Millennium World School, Faridabad, Ms Niharika Chopra, Principal DPS Pali Road, Jodhpur, Ms Vandana Banga, School Education Expert and Consultant.

The distinguished panelists discussed the problem of teaching life skills to students in a virtual setting. The webinar was moderated by Ms Mallashree Kalla, founder of Ignited Mindz.

The opening speaker, Mr Sharma, commenced his presentation with a toast to teachers that read “If doctors are saving the world, teachers are shaping the world.” He stressed the need to develop progressive and positive behaviour in children. He encouraged teachers to have an emotional connect with their students. Teachers should prepare answers to possible COVID related questions from students. They should adapt information to the different levels and avoid assumptions. For instance, teachers should discuss facts from verified sources, with the senior students. The temporary nature of the situation should be explained to students in middle school, while answers should be kept short and simple for the primary level.

Next, the erudite speaker discussed the objectives of life skills and resources to provide psychosocial support. He talked about resolving ‘life skills in dilemmas’: time-management, self-motivation, household chaos, anger and stress management, through a sustained regime of exercise and routine. He shared information about the various digital learning management systems – CenturyTech, Edmodo, Google Classroom, Moodie, Ekstep etc and encouraged their use to make the online teaching-learning process more effective.

The second speaker focussed on concept-based learning for the primary level. She proposed keeping the children busy through experiential learning. Her recommended to-do list featured reading and writing daily; assigning small projects like how to filter water, collecting and planting different seeds, watering the garden and so on. She asked the teachers to help develop in the children, the quality of empathy and teach them to appreciate the efforts of those around them. Writing a letter to the house help thanking them for all that they do would be a good start. The teacher should aim at creating a positive environment through storytelling, highlighting moral values through character analysis, and so on.

The next speaker, expressed her belief that life skills cannot be taught in isolation. They should be embedded in the curriculum. She delved into her school’s seven petal approach to promote social, thinking and emotional life skills. At the Millennium School, all lessons are project-based to enhance skill development. Further skill enhancement is done through online competitions, circle time, STEM webinars, storytelling webinar, etc. She stressed on promoting the Adversity /Adaptability Quotient along with the Emotional, Intelligence and the Spiritual Quotients.

The moderator introduced the next speaker, Ms Tania Joshi, as someone who enjoyed an enviable reputation amongst her peers for her great rapport and emotional connect with senior school students. Ms Joshi responded to the moderator’s question on how she kept her students motivated, by sharing anecdotes from her online classes.

She advised enhancing students’ communication skills by having a spontaneous ‘No textbook only interact’ session with them. Such impromptu interactions provide stimulus to the introvert children who are otherwise too shy to speak during regular classes. The teachers could ask questions aimed at improving life skills. Questions like, “How will you react to living alone?” will make them think and arrive at decision making. Thus, it’s important for children to be made aware of the real world around them.
Ms Joshi shared how she has instructed her teachers to speak and not remain silent while waiting for students to join the class. These informal interactions are a great way of fostering social relationships, establishing connect, building confidence and public speaking skills.
Ms Joshi agreed that life skills cannot be taught; they are imbibed. She uses The Ant Story to instil the values of hard work and focus, in her students.

Ms Joshi declared that online teaching had brought the focus back on the classroom. Most of the students were highly focused and concerned about their futures. Her teachers, who were earlier intimidated by technology, had now become tech-savvy. This spirit of resilience and reinvention must be taught to the students. Children need to realise all five of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs- physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.
Furthermore, Ms Joshi showcased a couple of innovative STEM activities to elucidate how Mathematics and Physics can be taught through hands-on activities to provide an online experiential learning experience. Teachers can use a tumbler or a pen to explain the concept of refraction and inverted reflection, and such like.

By involving students in easy- to- do at home experiments they can arouse their curiosity and make them think. And, children who think critically are not easily distracted.

The last speaker, being a science resource person, provided several ideas on how to develop critical thinking skills in a virtual classroom. She described how the 6 Cs of education – critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, character, and citizenship could be inculcated during Corona times.

The children simply need more time to think. Teachers should plan various activities, projects and experiments to awaken the child’s curiosity. They can divide the class into several groups and assign topics for research and subsequent discussion in the class. For example, why is the rainbow circular and not triangular? Why does the milk boil over but not water? Why is water transparent whilst waterfall is white? The teacher could moderate the presentation and ensure that there’s no digressing from the main topic.

The webinar was an excellent forum where some of the best and brightest luminaries of the education world shared their spark with the Corona warriors- teachers. An exclusive clan of highly gifted and spirited individuals, who soundlessly arose to the occasion by reinventing themselves in the time of adversity.

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