Dr (Mrs) Bhawana Malik -Dreams act as a catalyst which motivate us to move forward against all odds

Dreams act as a catalyst which motivate us to move forward against all odds

Dr. (Mrs) Bhawana Malik, Principal, Lovely Public Sr. Sec. School, P. D. Vihar, Delhi

How long have you been associated with Lovely Public Senior Secondary School? How have you witnessed the rise of this school under your leadership?

I have been associated with Lovely Public Senior Secondary School, P.D. Vihar since 21 years. It has been so long that the school is now as much a part of me as I am of it.

The school was already at its heights when I joined and thus my work became more challenging as I was given the responsibility to not only maintain its existing glory but to add to its reputation.

To begin with I first set a vision, a dream to upgrade the school to international standards and make it the best from the rest. As a Visionary principal, I focused on quality and emphasized research-based programs and strategies to help teacher performance. When teachers perform at their best, students learn better. Under my leadership and painstaking efforts of all my staff and other stakeholders, the school thrived and rose to majestic position and won many accolades, accreditation by British Council, ISO, etc. being a few.

Our educators are under huge stress since the beginning of the pandemic from coping with structural issues like modifying curriculum and teaching techniques to internet connections and erratic power supply. How are your teachers overcoming such challenges? Did you arrange for some special training for them?

COVID-19 crisis has been a big learning zone. Along with the fears, it brought the best out of the people especially teaching faculty. Leaving aside their fear of technology the teachers themselves became students and amazed all by their resoluteness to learn and teach.

Our teachers went out of the way to give extra classes to students who could not attend during regular hours due to absence of a digital device. Teachers made themselves available for phone consultation and face to face meeting at schools with due safeguards.

The school arranged for many webinars and demo classes so that the teachers could know about the new apps and techniques which could help them to teach and excel in their domains.

Leadership needs to generate trust. How challenging is it to build trust in your team?

Any successful institution develops on the basis of the interaction between the leadership and the executives. In order to establish trust between the two, a diffused leadership unique to the particular institution needs to be cultivated. Instead of a one leader structure, a democratic decentralization of the decision making mechanism goes a long way towards strengthening the bonds holding an institution together. Power sharing at different levels leads to a committed work force which functions not under the authoritative powers of the leaders but in a system of self-checks and balances. An institution which shares powers also shares responsibilities and this sharing of responsibilities becomes the driving force behind establishing trust under any successful leadership.

Digital learning through online classes vs. traditional classroom learning through textbooks, your views?

The pandemic left a lasting impact on the way education is disseminated in schools. Due to the shutting down of all educational institutions, several methodological interventions were initiated in the process of teaching-learning. In no time the schools were able to make a complete transition from textbook based learning to digital learning. But we should remember that the suggestions to digitalize educational archives are not sudden or new. It has been in talks since a long time and has been emphasized once again in the National education policy 2020. The digital-electronic medium of information dissemination is not only more holistic but also more democratic and accessible by the different social groups. It also helps prepare the students to face a global world which has increasingly adopted technology as its mode of operation. However, the unique benefits of in-person classroom teaching cannot be replaced so easily. The students need dedicated personal mentorship not just for their academic development but more importantly for development of well-grounded and intellectual personalities. The constant presence of teachers as mentors and guides cannot be replaced mechanically through digital learning. Learning must be a guided and carefully monitored process. Therefore, in future, the two modes of learning should seek to come together and form a unique interface where digital learning can actually take place in live classrooms. As we leave behind the challenges of a global pandemic, education and pedagogy should adapt and evolve to integrate digital learning through live-in person teaching process. This is the challenge of our post-pandemic society.

As you already know, National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been approved and is expected to be implemented shortly. Your comments?

The unveiling of new National Educational Policy 2020, on 29th July 2020 is bringing a sea change across all levels of education in India.

One can make out the intent and sincere efforts of our Government as renaming the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to the Ministry Of Education is a sign of the country’s changing focus on Education.

The policy stands on the pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability & accountability, which are surely going to change the landscape of Indian education entirely.

Furthermore, the document of NEP 2020 says that it, “aims at producing engaged, productive and contributing citizens for building an equitable, inclusive and plural society”, which elaborately puts forth the vision of the reform, and being the head of an Educational institution, I am happy to welcome it and putting all our might in implementing the same to achieve the outcome it envisions and promises.

What are your thoughts on students achieving near perfect scores in board exams? How will NEP solve this aberration in our examination system?

Well, as per my opinion exam marks are not the last word on one’s abilities; rather, it’s one’s attitude, approach and dedication that matters and I make sure that every student of Lovely Public School understands it and focuses on achieving excellence by enhancing those life skills that make them a responsible adult of tomorrow.

Nevertheless, NEP also institutes and propagates the same idea of making students realise their core capacities, and testing their competencies rather than months of coaching and memorisation that is stressful for students and parents both.

If we look at the policy closely, it seems that even the progress card of all students for school-based assessment might be redesigned, making it holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report that reflects in great detail the progress and the uniqueness of each learner in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains.

I so strongly feel that board exams may over time also develop further viable models making it less stressful for all.

What message would you want to give to 12th standard students who would be taking CBSE?

Our students ability to steadily embrace and adapt to a sudden change which could not be preempted is truly commendable. The outbreak of a pandemic like Covid 19  threw  us into the face of uncertainties, brought  change in our lives and raised questions  on the post pandemic situation. At this juncture, I, as the head of an institution, would like to advise my students to create a calm and stable environment with minimal distractions while preparing for their Boards. Almost a year long confinement has been emotionally exhausting. Our children need to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and consuming nutritious food. It is equally important to vent out their bottled up feelings by seeking social support.

Dealing with parents is a crucial factor in school education. What is your opinion?

The role of parental control is instrumental in shaping a child’s personality. In my opinion, it is important to reach out to the parents as the school alone cannot address the development needs of the child.  In this respect,  dealing with parents on a regular basis is essential with the objective of engaging them and making them partners in the educational process. The teachers normally guide the parents on academic content to be followed or any other areas of priority. In the same way, the parents can share some important information about their child which the teacher may not know. This kind of collaboration would definitely go in the interest of the child .

Would you like to share any message with our readers?

Year 2020 was a roller coaster ride, pandemic being the main cause. With that came closure of schools, but how could education be stopped? Online classes were the best option. With that came scuffle of management, teachers and students. NEP 2020 was introduced but first of all teachers had to be well versed with its concept. Paper pattern changed in all the subjects. Art integration added. And it wasn’t easy but we did it together. We dreamt to achieve it and we nailed it. Dreams act as a catalyst which motivate us to move forward against all odds. Rarely a dream or goal comes easily and effortlessly, without delays, problems or hurdles. It is far more common, however, that you have to overcome many obstacles and suffer some pain before achieving meaningful target. And the bigger your dreams, the tougher your challenge. The courage and persistence to keep going on, past hurdles and obstacles, is powered by purpose. Your purpose: Discover it. Tap into it. Achieve it. “Look for something positive in each day. Even if some days you have to look a little harder.” This pandemic didn’t only take something from us but gave and taught us many lessons. Firstly, it made us techno savvy, secondly, it taught us to take care of our mother earth and lastly, prepared us for all situations. Teacher is a nation builder, a torch bearer, a motivator and a guiding light for many. We will keep on sculpting best human beings. And bounce back every time with the same vigor.