It is important to inculcate ‘how to think’ to understand the depth and application of concepts
Dr Neeraj Awasthy, Principal, Modern School, Noida believes that our curriculum is delivered in a way that it can meet these goals
How long have you been associated with Modern School, Noida? How have you influenced the growth of the School?
I have been associated with Modern School since 2014 with an endeavour to carry forward the traditions and vision of the school. As the education field has been changing rapidly with digitisation, it has been a challenge to preserve the legacy of a well-established institution by constantly evolving and providing mentorship to experienced staff to adapt to changing educational scenario. I have taken this challenge with an open mind, creating a positive environment for all of us to evolve and work collaboratively and expand our footprint on the global canvas.
Modern School Noida has completed 32 years of blissful journey. Our aim is to uplift the society through better education and we are working on it since inception.
The school has made its mark not just in the field of academics but in other areas as well. We have received British Council International School Award and have collaborated with many renowned organisations at the global level. Last year we had organised CBSE North Zone-1 Judo Championship where the participant schools appreciated the administration of the said event.
In today’s world of globalisation & digitisation, it is mandatory for schools to break their monotonous educational regime and embrace an ardent approach to newer methods of education and development to best prepare the students for the changes. I see myself as well placed catalyst with my education pedigree & experience and with the help of my qualified and experienced staff; to help our students get the best the world has to offer.
What is your vision of an effective School?
An effective school has a clear vision and mission, with a good focus on short-term goals and long-term objectives. Any school has three main pillars—teachers, students & parents and an effective school leverage the strong linkages between them to deliver the best for the students. Schools are known for their achievements and results, however an effective school goes beyond it, develops the character and strength in its students to make them ready for real world challenges. Not every student is the same. It is important for school to focus on developing each child to reach their potential. At Modern School, we prepare roadmap for each student to achieve the desired outcome. The focus is to establish a culture of learning new skills, challenging one and inculcating a sense of responsibility, positive thinking and right values in the students.
Additionally, an effective school invests in all the constituents, its staff and society. It ensures that it delivers to its commitment to the society by effectively investing in its teachers and preparing students to grow into citizens equipped with life skills to face the global challenges.
You are a believer of the fact that children must be taught how to think, not what to think. Is it followed in school, in reality? We speak about developing thinking skill, and rely on smart boards and e-contents.
Yes, I firmly believe that children must be taught how to think and not what to think. I strongly believe that technology like any other thing has two facets. One can look at it through the lens of smart boards and classrooms that take away the creativity of writing paragraphs or the way one can help visualise and explain to foster the creativity and learning. Creativity and innovation have now become an integral part of curriculum. As the country is moving towards new level of assessments like PISA that focus on conceptual learning, knowledge creation and application of concepts in new situations, the focus is shifting away from rote rehearsals to conceptual soundness. It is, therefore, very important to inculcate ‘how to think’ in order to understand the depth and application of concepts and our curriculum is delivered in a way to meet these goals. Students are encouraged to ask questions, make their own choices and try new things. Here, we believe in complete educational liberty to test newer methods and keep everyone motivated to achieve their best.
Skill development of the existing teachers is the key to success for any institution. Do you believe in it? How do you empower your teacher?
Schools cannot deliver without teachers. The success or failure of a school largely depends on the quality of its teachers. In the changing environment, skills required for the teachers have evolved. The new generation is technologically perceptive and has shorter engagement spans. A large portion of information is available on internet. Like in any other industry, the teachers in today’s world need to adapt and upskill themselves. New technology and concepts are coming every day with new knowledge creation and learning. Artificial intelligence and machines are changing how we interact with each other, with students and with the world around us. Therefore, I feel training has become more important in today’s world. Teachers need to acquire new ways of teaching methodologies, master new knowledge, and develop new proficiencies. At Modern, we are providing regular training to our teachers through workshops and seminars, as we believe that investing in them is investing into the future of our school. We not only organise professional development workshops but also encourage our staff to share their experiences and learnings with their colleagues’ thereby promoting team teaching culture.
Following the inclusion policy, how do you bridge the gap between brilliant and difficult students in your school?
Every child is unique and has different learning abilities. We recognise this and our teachers minimise the difference in the classroom with their innovative strategies and using technology to aid the students and enable them to learn at their own pace. We strongly believe that creating a healthy and conducive environment for children is very important to help them engage and gain from the learning process. Modern School has its own unique way to focus on strengths of every child and adopts amalgamation of two strategies to reduce the gap between students. The teachers guide & mentor every student equally and this is further enhanced by pairing the students who have clarity in the concept with other students to embed not just learning but collaboration and team spirit. Peer support plays a very important role in learning and developing the character in students.
CISCE has a clear stream division from class nine with an array of subjects. If someone aims to take commerce in XI class, he has an option to choose commercial studies in class IX. CBSE do not have such flexible option. Do you think the boards should be merged (a discussion is there already) for the benefit of everyone?
I definitely think that the Boards should be merged not for the sake of flexible option but for the sake of mitigating the disparity in the curriculum and patterns of examination. I have observed that the students who are migrating from one board to another often face challenges and problems due to different kind of subject combination and syllabus.I believe that a single pattern should be adopted throughout the country and while doing this we can take best from all the boards for the betterment of our students.
Is counselling important for elementary school students? Do you have a counsellor in School?
Yes, counselling is important for elementary school students and we do have a counsellor in our school. The biggest benefit of school counsellors is that they prepare students for academics, as well as social challenges. Teens often internalise problems rather than communicating about it openly. They do not feel comfortable talking about their emotional or social problems. At this point, the role of the school counsellors becomes important as they play an important role in guiding students by giving them individual counselling and making them emotionally mature. As teenagers start to explore adult identity, they commonly experience high levels of anxiety, doubt and self-consciousness. It is crucial that teenagers are encouraged and supported in their efforts to mature and take their place in the world of adults.
Leadership needs to restore trust. How challenging is it to build trust in your team?
Trust is the most important aspect of leadership. Leadership comes with its unique challenges and as a leader of a school; you need to have trust of your staff, students as well as parents. The needs of each of these groups are different and as a leader, you need to be connected with their needs and understand their challenges to best support them. Developing trusted relationships take time and consistent behaviour. One needs to ensure that you practice what you preach, have patience to listen to others and empathy to look it from their perspective. If you do this, trust will come by itself. One needs to be honest and passionate about developing and working with people.
Dealing with parents is like paranoia if you speak against the situation. However, situation may not always be in favour. How do you deal with that?
Teachers mostly are parents and if we keep that in mind, it would not be difficult to understand the concern of the parents. Many times they react differently because, they do not receive full information. Parents are one of the most important stakeholders of the system and their satisfaction should be of utmost priority. I personally feel that any kind of unpleasant situation can be resolved with the help of two-way communication. First and the foremost thing for any of the organisation are to be transparent with its stakeholders. At Modern, we follow this, and have always found parents to be supportive about our decisions.
Would you like to share any message with our readers?
My message to all the educators is to be sincere and increase the hunger for emerging concepts. We all know that this era belongs to technology. We are witnessing new tools of learning and engaging every day. Students of 21st century are smarter and have more information available at their hands than earlier generations. Their needs are different. The level of competition has changed. Hence, it is important for everyone to keep enhancing his or her skills to remain relevant in this changing educational environment. As Darwin had propounded the survival of the fittest, in this new world, only who would endeavour to propagate effective education and steer forth a progressive vision, will survive.