The power of words in the primary classroom

Yukti Lao
When we think of language in a school setting, we only think of it in terms of a subject or subjects to be learnt. But language is also used to transact lessons. As teachers we aim to deliver the perfect lesson but don’t give much thought to the vocabulary we use to deliver those lessons. We are also caregivers, guides, and counsellors to our students but may not always be mindful of what we say to them. Spoken words have the power to make or break the listener. Even seemingly harmless words such as ‘easy’, ‘simple’, and ‘straightforward’ can cause damage and that is why we have to be watchful of the words we use both to instruct and interact with our students.

All eyes on the teacher

Simran Luthra
How do schools measure the capabilities of their most crucial employees — the teachers? There are complex interactions at every level, so what practices do the schools adopt to evaluate their teachers? And can teaching be truly measured? The emotional labour that goes into teaching or the time and effort put into preparation cannot just be wished away based on someone else’s judgment. The growth of this ‘performance culture’ will only suppress creativity and innovation in teaching. Teachers tend to bring in their own imagination and creativity into the classroom. So, assessing teachers or teaching has to be holistic and conversation-driven built on mutual trust.

Teaching science as a way of thinking

Neeraja Raghavan
Science pedagogy should involve exploration, experimentation, analysis, observation and questioning. But is this a reality in the classroom? With a vast syllabus to complete and examinations being the end, teachers are either not inclined or don’t have the time to ignite curiosity in children. Learning science has to be an active process and for that the way we teach science must change.

Back to the classroom: what needs to change?

Neha Pradhan Arora
In the last two years our notion of the classroom has changed. There has been a considerable loss of teaching and learning time and there is likely to be a long term impact on learners’ educational outcomes. However, with some schools opening up and others adopting various models of online or hybrid teaching, it is critical for educators to build and gauge their readiness to adapt to physical classrooms again. Moving away from the current text-based learning to an activity-based curriculum can be a first step.

A teacher’s right to disconnect

Anuradha C
An increase in work on both the domestic front and from school is already encroaching on personal time. The proliferation of computers and cell phones is compelling teachers to spend more time outside of school hours planning tech-enriched lessons while responding to emails and text messages whatever time of day it is. What is the outcome of this constant pressure to be available and on the job?

When improvisation is key

Gopal Midha
The pandemic has been difficult, challenging and tough for the world. People have had to find new ways of functioning and surviving. Educational institutions that were so firmly entrenched and comfortable in the old ways of learning and doing, like everyone and everything else, were also shaken out of their inertia. This was an opportunity for them to stop, reflect and rethink their ways of working. Sad as it may be that not many have been able to shed their old beliefs to think anew, there have been stories of ingenuity, innovation and individual brilliance in the world of education. Teacher Plus takes a look at how school leaders have steered their institutions through this pandemic.

Welcoming the whys

Simran Luthra
Homework and assignments are part of every child’s school routine and every teacher’s responsibility. While they are a means to enrich learning, are homework and assignments really serving this purpose? The homework given is so uninspiring that almost always, students end up doing them like a chore. When they don’t know the objectives behind an assignment, they don’t learn anything either. As teachers our job is not merely to give our students homework. If learning is to take place, we have to design creative and thought-provoking assignments and we will have fulfilled our responsibilities only if we ourselves are clear about the ‘why’ of an assignment and are willing to share that ‘why’ with our students. For, the implications of not sharing that why are not small.

Library as a place

Usha Mukunda
We all know that a library is a place that connects books and people. But this relationship also means that a library can change people and people too can change libraries. The value of the place and the values it conveys in myriad ways is the core of a library.

Re-imagining schools after a catastrophe

Lakshmi Karunakaran
Schools across the country are preparing to welcome children back to classrooms after almost a year and a half of remaining closed. While there are many things that need to be focused upon as schools reopen their gates, there is one most critical and hitherto overlooked aspect that cannot be ignored anymore — the overall health and wellbeing of the child. The pandemic has brought health and hygiene into focus albeit more from the need for prevention of infection, it is time that schools realized that building safe and hygienic environments is linked to healthy and happy children who are ready to learn.

Making edtech an ally

Anand Krishnaswamy
How can edtech help schools get better? A common misconception among schools is to think that edtech companies focus only on the tutoring aspect. But there are several other ways in which edtech companies stay relevant. From better content delivery to analytics to user experience to feedback from students. This, however does not take away the value of a teacher. But it does show that the system is responsive and designed for them. Therefore it rests on educators to seek newer ways to improve and learn.