Dr Jitendra Nagpal, renowned Consultant Psychiatrist with a special interest in adolescence and early childhood disorders, conducted an insightful workshop on 1st August, 2015, among MRIS Principals and Seniors Teachers. He addressed the issues related to Parent-Teacher relation with the focus on students. Drawing from his own experiences and his commitment towards the cause of children where he views them as “the nation”, Dr Nagpal apprised the teaching fraternity about their need to sensitize parents towards their responsibilities and help in the child’s overall development and upbringing. Welcoming Dr Jitendra Nagpal, Ms Goldy Malhotra, Director Academic Staff College and Administration, praised Dr Nagpal “as a wonderful person, gentle at heart who thinks from the heart”. She explained, “His association with the Schools and the CBSE has given a whole new dimension to his work.”
Addressing the gathering Dr Nagpal, in a freewheeling chat, described Ms Goldy Malhotra “as an artist of change” and defined children through a song entitled ‘Let the children have the world..’ which was played specially for the audience, He pointed out that medical studies show how we can lighten up the dark side of human nature.
Dr Jitendra Nagpal also expressed concern over the fact that more and more children are queuing in hospitals. “These are worrisome changes related to modernism,” he said. Dr Nagpal also quoted extensive figures and facts based on national and international findings, all the while explaining, “Children role model on their Dads and Moms and hence it is imperative for them to set the right example rather than getting caught in the quagmire of alcohol and drugs…..The aim should be to move from child-seeking to child-centred /lifelong learning. The child’s health and wellbeing is too important to be left to healthcare professionals alone.” It has been stated that in India, the youth constitutes 45% of nearly 12,000 million population and if figures are to be believed, 10-12% children of less than 18 years suffer from disorders in behaviours, learning and development while 16% of the 40 crore children in our country suffer from mental disorders. “You as heads of private schools can help correct the situation,” said Dr Jitendra Nagpal to the Principals and Teachers. He also emphasized on the need to make Parent Teacher meetings “a celebratory experience for the whole family” where fathers should attend and listen in to the advice from teachers. They should also devote time to their children and get involved in their transition phase. Dr Nagpal felt that Schools need to take the lead in bringing about a change in society where the child emerges as a well adjusted personality. He also pointed out the need to have more openness in Schools where even violent issues of the day should be discussed with the children so as to caution and make them aware of day to day happenings. He also called for the need to let children play (a fact often ignored by parents) for the mind-body connect so that children become future leaders.
Finally, Dr Nagpal ended his session saying “We need to understand families and School partnerships better and everything that the child is learning–which is a part of his development–should be known by the family.” All, in all, Dr Nagpal focused on the need for greater parental involvement in a child’s development which would in the long run ensure a healthy and harmonious child.
As part of the ongoing Professional Development programme, a workshop on ‘Effective Teaching of Hindi in Primary’ was organized for the Hindi Primary Teachers of Manav Rachna International Schools by the Academic Staff College. The key resource person Ms Sonika Kaushik addressed a gathering of 37 Hindi teachers who came to attend the session at the MREI campus. The aim of this workshop was to focus upon the importance of Hindi in the student’s curriculum and help teachers to work upon their skills in imparting instructions to the children.
Ms Sonika Kaushik, senior Consultant at the Early Literacy Programme (earlier known as the Reading Development Cell), NCERT was the speaker of the day. She was a faculty at the Department of Elementary Education at Jesus and Mary College.
Addressing the teachers, Ms Sonika Kaushik highlighted the fact that Hindi has always been relegated to the background given the predominance of English in the teaching–learning process. She also said that Teachers need to be aware of the grammatical modifications in Hindi that have been introduced in course of time. Ms Kaushik pointed out that it is up to the teachers to change the conventional perception about Hindi among students and tell them to accord due respect to it as a language. It is teachers after all, who can promote Hindi since it is a language that comes to children more naturally. The workshop helped Hindi teachers gain a certain measure of confidence and take pride in a language that defines our very nation.
Understanding Learning Disability Among Children
A one-of-a-kind workshop was conducted by Dr Geet Oberoi of Orkids Foundation, India, to sensitize teachers of the Early Years and Primary level towards ‘Understanding what Learning Disability is..’. The workshop held at the MREI campus had a motley gathering of around 250 Teachers attending what was an awareness session on different kind of learning disabilities—their symptoms and manifestations, management and interventions.
Dr Geet Oberoi, founder of Orkids Foundation, India, is a special educator who has worked with children whose special needs are varied. Her Orkids Foundation is a chain of multidisciplinary clinics which provides remedial intervention to children with special needs, especially those with learning disabilities, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, intellectual impairment, hearing impairment, partial visual impairment and development delays. Orkids also provides programs for enhancement of study skills and creative expression and training in the National Institute of Open School (NIOS) Curriculum.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Geet Oberoi impressed upon the teachers that “they should not make a big deal about children’s weaknesses and do more to encourage their strengths in class”. Using the Amir Khan starrer ‘Taare Zameen Par’ as reference, Dr Geet Oberoi stated, children with learning disabilities are more often than not unhappy since they have a hard time coping with issues which inevitably look bigger in a classroom. “Make sure that each child is happy, irrespective of his/her capabilities,” she urged the teachers.
Dr Oberoi drew upon her own experience of suffering from ADHD in childhood and pointed out that children with ADHD are smart kids. “At the end of the day marks is not the only means to assess a child,” she affirmed. While discussing about IQ, Dr Oberoi said that children with learning disabilities have normal IQs contrary to popular perception: “A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence. The children have at least average intelligence of 90-110 IQ. They are not lazy or dumb. It is just that their brains are wired differently. This difference affects how they receive and process information.”
While talking about different forms of learning disabilities like Dyslexia (language and reading disability), Dyscalculla (problems with arithmetic and math concepts), Dysgraphia (a writing disorder), Dyspraxia (Sensory Integration Disorder) and Non Verbal Disabilities (affects social and organizational skills), Dr Oberoi exhorted the teachers to avoid attaching labels to children and make a thorough assessment of their situation in terms of: history of school performance, family background, physical checkup, Ability (IQ check), Language Development tests and academic assessment before drawing any conclusions. Children who may be suspected with learning disabilities should be referred to an educational clinic, learning centre or a qualified private practitioner. Dr Oberoi also suggested different intervention plans like therapy to work on sensory deficits, curriculum modification, extra time and the like.
While wrapping up the session, Ms Goldy Malhotra, Director, Academic Staff College and Director Administration, Manav Rachna International School, thanked Dr Geet Oberoi for an insightful session and expressed deep pleasure at the manner in which Dr Oberoi shared anecdotes and her own personal experiences to illustrate her points.
Teaching Strategies for Effective Learning
It was time for the Teachers to be taught at what was a highly interactive workshop at the MREI campus. The aim was to focus on various teaching strategies and give teachers an in-depth insight into what works in a classroom situation. While the First Session of the workshop for Manav Rachna International School’s Primary wing teachers focused on Differentiated Learning as well as Integrated Approach to Learning, the Afternoon Session held for the Early Years teachers (of Bloomz, Toddlers, Nursery and Kindergarten) put the spotlight on Lesson Planning and how best to implement it. The First session of the Workshop was conducted by Ms Shweta Sehgal (of MRIS 21C) and Ms Manu Vijayan (of MRIS Charmwood). The Second Session for the Early Years was addressed by Ms Jyoti Bhalla, Headmistress of the Primary Wing and Early Years of MRIS Charmwood, and Ms Monica Kathuria, Headmistress of the Early Years of MRIS 14.
According to Ms Goldy Malhotra, Director, Academic Staff College and Director Administration, Manav Rachna International School, “These Workshops are a very good exercise for our teachers as they give them a great platform to mingle with their colleagues. It is here they share and learn from each other and provide solutions through problem-solving.”
Teachers today are facilitators. What they teach in class is activity-oriented and child-centric. “We are following an integrated approach towards learning which is multidisciplinary; in that teaching is not confined to one subject alone but linked to other disciplines to make it more interesting. Elements like music, dramatization and role play are all integrated into the teaching-learning process,” affirms Ms Goldy Malhotra.
This aspect of teaching was amply evident in the Morning Session where there was also a lot of emphasis on various teaching styles for children’s assessment. Teachers were asked to recount their own personal experiences and use incentives like stickers, stars and badges to motivate the children in class. They were also told to divide their time effectively among different groups and follow a holistic and integrated learning system which would help the child to assimilate concepts better. Teachers were also asked to evaluate themselves and what ultimately emerged is the conclusion that they too are lifelong learners. “We cease to learn if we think we are at the top,” said Ms Shweta Sehgal while addressing the teachers. A lot of importance was also given to Circle time activities (where the teacher sits in a circle and listens to students as they shed their inhibitions and share their experiences with her. Activities on preparing integrated holiday homework were also a part of the program.
The afternoon session dwelt upon Lesson Planning where as Ms Jyoti Bhalla pointed out, “the components, objectives, focus, strategies, teaching resources and activities surrounding it were discussed”. A success criterion was also laid out before the teachers who were asked to evolve strategies to complete the lesson plans. They were then helped to fill in the gaps wherever required.
Overall, the workshop was an eye opener for teachers of the Early Years and the Primary wing as they went back more confident and refreshed by the experience.
In a world where the education system, much like everything else, is changing at a rapid pace, Teachers too need to be reskilled to impart the right kind of education to children. The ‘In Service Teacher Training Programme’ being organized by Ms Goldy Malhotra, Director – Academic Staff College and Administration, MRIS, is preparing Teachers of the Early Years (i.e., of Bloomz, Toddlers, Nursery and Kindergarten) as well as of the Primary Wing to evolve as confident educators. It is Ms Goldy Malhotra’s illustrious career in teaching, fine arts, administration and innovative experimentation that has propelled her to introduce new ways of thinking and starting. what she says. is a Professional Development Programme for MRIS’ teachers.
In conversation with Rajlakshmi Ghosh, Corporate Communication Centre, Ms Goldy Malhotra stated, “We are getting 5 Early Years teachers from every MRIS School (total: 6 in number)– taking the number of teachers to 30–to train at the ‘In Service Teacher Training Programme’. Similarly, 30 teachers (i.e., 5 teachers from each of the 6 schools) from the Primary Wing will be trained at the Programme. These 60 teachers are being trained over 3 sessions.” Ms Malhotra added further that the Teachers are being trained on the first and third Saturday of every month and in two groups—the first session is held in the morning and the other is held in the afternoon. She informed that as many as 360 teachers in the above mentioned two groups will be trained by the end of the Academic session. “Our own Resource persons from the Early Years are training the Teachers. Dr Geet Oberoi will be conducting a special education workshop for Early Years and Primary Teachers on 18th May, 2015 and Ms Sonia Kaushik will be addressing Hindi Primary Teachers through ‘Effective Teaching of Hindi in Primary’,” said Ms Malhotra.
At the Institution where there is a great deal of emphasis on ‘Quality Education’, such Teacher Training programmes will go a long way in transforming the lives of the teacher and the taught.