Ego has no place in workplace

Ego has no place in workplace

opines Mrs Mousumi Saha, Founder-Principal, National English Group of Schools, Kolkata. Her journey started with her dreams. She possesses an enigmatic strength, which rests upon the strong foundation of her courage and determination. An excerpt of the conversation

The foundation

National English School was incepted in 2000. After serving in a state govt. run school for 9 years as an English language teacher, I started this school only with the nursery section with lots of anticipations in mind. And, in a year, I extended it to class V. We got the affiliation from the council in 2005. Exactly after two years, the first batch of ICSE appeared for the board and the result was beyond my expectation, with the limited infrastructure that we had then. Our Rajarhat branch commenced in 2008 followed by National College of Education for B Ed and DL Ed courses that came up in 2017. Two more schools are coming up. All our branches of National English School are affiliated to ICSE as I find the curriculum child-friendly. I feel blessed to be able to reach a certain height and that we are still growing.

Living my dream

Being a teacher was my dream and I am living it. This institution is my second home and I am emotionally attached to every nook and corner of this workplace. Running an institution is not a one man show but a team work and I am blessed to have an organised team who are ready to give their best when they are in school. This is my reward after teaching for 25 years.

Leadership has to restore trust

A lot of energy and enthusiasm is required to mentor a team. When you are an employee, you have areas to object with, people to complain about, but when you are a leader, a founder, you need to take responsibility of each and everything that happens within the premise and sort it out. Though I have a sub-committee to take care of these issues, but at the end of the day, my goodwill is my responsibility. I keep my door open to all the stakeholders. Parents have faith in me that if something concerning reaches my ear, I will get it resolved. Being a woman, I know, female teachers struggle a lot every day to maintain a work-life balance. They struggle with their family, with children of their own and in school, with in-laws, with daily schedule at home, and most importantly, dealing with the hectic workload in school and with parents. I always try to make them understand that teaching needs a lot of patience and the profession never allows you to lose temper, whether you are dealing with parents, students, your peer or the institution head. I advise them to practice deep breathing to deal with quick temper and stress. I tell them to wear a smile as happiness is contagious and it drives away negativity. I teach them that this workplace is like a family where we live with and for each other even with their flaws.

I don’t like being a boss and dictate terms. I believe, teachers should have presence of mind and should be confident enough to deal with an impromptu situation. Though we have CCTV’s installed, it is not possible to have a control over everything from my seat. That is when my staffs get into action by deciding what is good for children or for the institution without waiting for my permission.

Coping with the changing trends

There is a saying, ‘Change is the only constant’, and today it is always advisable to accept, welcome and cope with change—be it in education, be it while dealing with children, be it about communicating with their parents. Children are quite smart these days and we need smarter teachers. They need to stay prepared to govern 3000 students and their parents. You need to upskill yourself to tackle such difficult situations with ease. Days of closed-door principalship is gone. Everyday is a new learning now.

ICSE is scoring & child-friendly 

If I ever happen to open two more branches of this school, I would choose council. In 19 years, we have grown well. I am thankful to the council for everything. Quite recently, they celebrated Diamond Jubilee in Kolkata and National English School performed the inaugural dance. Whenever I have approached the council for any kind of help, I have got their active support. ICSE curriculum is indeed scoring. We have a project work of 20 marks. If a child scores 60 out of 80 in theory, the percentage would be 80. The compartmental exam acts as a savior, saving the loss of an entire year of a child. The final exam gets over in March and the result gets published in the first week of May. If a student gets compartmental in a subject other than English (passing in English is compulsory), there is a scope to reappear for the exam. The result of that exam comes in August.

Besides that, the training & workshop that the council arranges, are really good. I regularly send my staffs to get themselves updated on the same. The council’s website is updated with clear information pertaining to format and marking scheme they are supposed to follow.

Mrs Mousumi Saha, an eminent educationist, is the Founder Principal of the prestigious academic institution, National English School, Kolkata. She has always been a visionary in the field of education and research. On completion of Master in English (Calcutta University) and B.Ed from Scottish Church College, she devoted herself initially as an English teacher in a Government aided school.
Mrs. Saha’s first venture towards the development of education was the establishment of National English School, VIP Road Branch in the year 2000 – new millennium. In the year 2008, the Rajarhat Branch was inaugurated under her stewardship due to her penchant for holistic education.Under her able guidance and leadership, National English School has flourished in academics and co-curricular activities. Her constant endeavours towards upliftment of the educational skills, building effective bridge between mentors, parents and learners have resulted in the brilliant academic results of both the branches. The National College of Education fostering the B.Ed curriculum, has been her dream turned into reality in the year 2017, to shape the future of the mentors. She is the recipient of the prestigious Times Power Women Award, 2018. With an everlasting smile, she always motivates all to reach great heights. She has an extreme passion for aesthetics, fitness and spirituality, encouraging the learners and mentors to attend workshops and seminars. There is no shortcut to success, work is worship, are the basic principles she upholds. She will be an everlasting pillar of strength to all true educationists. At present she holds the position of the Joint Vice President (ASISC), West Bengal.

Teachers’ recruitment: A tough job indeed

For me, a demonstration is the best tool to judge someone. A good percentage, degrees and diplomas are a necessity, but those cannot certainly judge a human being.

Secondly, I believe in class observation. If I do not get time for that, I do micro-teaching. I ask each teacher to teach a subject or lesson in front of other teachers and me. It creates a good atmosphere for discussion. I give inputs or feedback only if required. I believe in giving them space by not indulging in every case, in every class, and in every subject.

Only good teachers can create a good generation. If appreciation can motivate someone, I will do it! Not every finger in our hand is equal, hence difference of opinion is inevitable. But, we have to face and deal with it.

Dealing with children 

School is a child’s second home. They spend a considerable amount of time in school. If they get a happy and peaceful ambiance at home, it is a blessing, but today cases of broken families, separated parents, working parents with their huge workload, stress and less quality time falls heavy on a tender mind. I advise parents, in PTM to involve their child in decision-making, to gift them books and not a mobile phone. Reading habit has faced a steep decline and children have become comfortable with messaging languages. During our school days, internet was not known and we had to depend on books. At least, the habit of reading story books should be retained.

Things get more serious while dealing with special children. Parents start believing that the school is against the child. Every child is equal for a school. But, a special child cannot be treated with five others. I hardly find parents consulting the counsellor of school regarding their child. It is still a taboo. People still find it difficult to understand that mental illness is like a physical one. Professional guidance actually helps. Sometimes it seems, that parents need more mental counselling than students.

Message for the readers

Be positive. Avoid negativity by all means. There is no shortcut to success. Discipline and dedication are important to thrive and be successful.