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To My Guru

When we step into our profession ,we sail along the many responsibilities that we take till the day we pause to reflect and muse.When we stand near a window and look at the cross-roads ahead we realise that someone has given us some insights and directions to choose the right road.That someone is the Guru.

The greatest guru in one’s life is Experience, provided we halt periodically to reflect on the lessons we can pick up from “Experience.”

What did my Guru teach me?

Dream big and believe in myself
Enjoy all that you do without regrets,
See the bigger picture and not be myopic,
Don’t look for instant and quick gratifications,
You don’t get things when you need it most ,
Take the disappointment in your stride.
But,don’t forget to smile and spread sunshine

Be different even if the world expects you to be a stereotype,
Create your individuality while celebrating the differences.
Look for opportunities even in difficulties,
No problem is big enough,not to have a solution
No matter how limited the resources are,do the best.
Because the world has zero tolerance for a mediocre.
And,don’t forget to smile and spread sunshine.

Let the kid in you spring out
Dance in the rains with the kids, play football
Dream big and make your dreams happen.
When you reach the pinnacle of success
Just be the person you were- humble,simple,sensitive and strong
Remember that you are not known for the position or power you have
But for the person you are .
So,don’t forget to smile and spread sunshine.

To my Guru – Singhania School ,my experience Guru ,thank you for making me the person I am.

As I hoisted the flag this morning marking the Independence Day celebrations , I couldn’t contain myself with a feeling of pride that I have when my students salute the flag ,against the backdrop of the school band playing the National Anthem and all my staff , students and their parents joining melodiously in unison . Today was particularly special.
Two of my N.C.C cadets who received the best cadet from Maharashtra and were felicitated in Delhi by the Government of India . They also called on the Prime-Minister and the President of India and interacted with them.We honored them in the presence of their own parents and school.It is really special more so , because both of them were my girl cadets. It was equally a privilege to felicitate one of our teachers Mr. Dattatrey Tarde, the A.N.O who received his promotion from the N.C.C directorate , New Delhi as First Officer after he bagged the best A.N.O from the state of Maharashtra.
My address was a single message – Take pride .Take pride in all that we do .Patriotism is about feeling good about being an Indian. Pride cannot be described in words or in action. One can only feel it . The feeling leads to actions which helps an individual to think beyond himself , his interests or his expectations. The satisfaction or fulfillment encourages one to contribute to nation -building. They become the thinkers , navigators and drivers of various missions that leads to progress.This helps in making a positive society.
I had not planned to speak about pride . Being an extempore speaker on all occasions, I choose an idea that I think is important . I realized I could not have chosen a better thought than pride . For the two hours , we had parent and child performances – dances , music and instrumental – a jugalbandi between a parent and a child . We saw some of the best performances – father daughter , mother- son , mother-daughter , father-son- one could see and feel the pride that each child had performing with their parent .The audience of nearly 650 students in each hall cheered them as they performed.
What I particularly thought about was that there must have a conscious time spent together as a family for the rehearsals . Schedules may have changed , every member in the family would have given u something to gain this experience of joint performance .Am sure the mobiles , the TV serials , the official emails, the gym sessions may have all taken a backseat . I truly appreciate the efforts of the families . One may not won the prize in the competition, but to me the the greatest prize is the mutual feeling of pride and respect that they will always have for each other.
This is what I call freedom – where one breaks away from shyness , from stage fear , from glass- barriers,from routines that we bog ourselves with, from societal mind-sets . Freedom is about flying to explore and unearth the potential one may have and may not have realized . It is about getting away to” find oneself” in the most positive way.When every Indian works towards that actualization,there is “collective pride” which will help us build a great nation – together.
JaiHind!

Friendship Day

Am sure that all mobiles were jammed with morning messages of wishes for a very happy Friendship Day  While it is a much looked forward to event for celebrations today, it’s origin goes back to 1935. The world was going through mistrust ,betrayal, anger , enmity and fear.The US Congress felt the need to unite friends and bring some cheer and happiness. They chose the first Sunday in the month of August . That’s how the Friendship day celebrations began . Soon it spread far and wide bringing friends together .They partied and shared gifts . What started as a simple way of spending time with friends bringing cheer and smiles soon became commercial with the bands  and wild parties.

How do we add value to the friendship day ? What do we do on this day or the year that will help us feel we brought out the right meaning of  “friendship”. It makes the relationship more powerful and meaningful.. This is how my students of IBDP Year 1 celebrated. The 16year olds spent the day( Sunday) with  children younger to them , making them smile, laugh , sing , dance , eat and play . And tying friendship bands.The children enjoyed trying their hands with the guitars, singing along with our students , playing , dancing .. ..They were  in the company of our students enjoying themselves. The little ones were mentally taken to a world of joy , laughter and fun, forgetting their pains and the suffering of the chemo that they were going through. Our students baked a cake and they all relished the cake together. The twinkle in their eyes could not be missed.It was a beautiful experience for us as teachers to watch them bond so beautifully.This is a friendship that not just deserve a band but also, an applause.

It was indeed the best friendship day that our students had in all their 15 years . They want to go back again to bring smiles on their faces .And I know they will… because they learnt what friendship is.

All in a Day

16.2, 17.5 , 17.8 were  the numbers we heard in the corridors throughout  the day. Excited , high -pitched voices , expressions of joy,  curiosity , wonder and cheer spread all through . If you wondered if they were the kids , I  shall spring a surprise . They were my teachers !!! The most experienced of the faculty !! Not only did the readings from our mini – weather station excite them  during the day  but  they also enjoyed the heavy  rains  we that lashed in the evening.That is what it is  I look for in  learning – the thrill , the excitement.

In the open spaces outside the kindergarten , little kids in their colourful raincoats danced in the rains  along with their teachers.Their laughter , their   dance , the rain songs sung by the teacher  made all teachers join the fun . The kids are then taught how to dry themselves  and get to their classrooms  for .the next  activity. It is amazing to see how their adjust beautifully .

Yet,in the open field , I see children planting some paddy  learning about it from the horticulturist in school . Plantation is a new experience for many of the children because they are  city-bred and do not have  this exposure.. At the other end of the school ,  children were creating Earth .-  3 D models.The twinkle in their eyes spoke volumes of how much they were enjoying the process.

In the other end of the school were 7 year olds , who were engaged in  exploring ways and means and were busy drawing connections keeping branches thin and broad  ,ultimately forming an independent structure.They were mapping out their thoughts using images , ideas , words.and colours.. I believe strongly that these “mind-maps’ is a fun way to recapitulate all that is learnt .It also unleashes the creativity ,facilitating the cognitive process of the child. It also improves recall and memory..

Back to the old building ,  the middle-schoolers  were pledging to  contribute  to the society and be sensitive to the needs of the under-privileged. They were attending the installation ceremony of the Interact Club of Sulonian Premium to which these 1000 kids belong.

I returned to my office quite convinced – The most happening place is school and nothing better than childhood.. I bounced back to work lost in the thought- Wish I could turn the time – machine.

 

 

The month of May just flew by . The vacation is almost over .Travel , spending time with family and friends, a hobby course successfully completed , lazy mornings are almost over.And it must have been truly refreshing, rejuvenating and relaxing break each one really needed. I am certain that children are looking forward to coming to school , meeting up with friends and teachers and like every year , there is so much to explore in the campus having additions as extended learning centers and  some cosmetic changes.

Just as for kids vacations seem short , we too find it so considering that we have just a month in hand to catch up with all repairs , furnishing and the  new projects . The rain water harvesting , the solar energy panel , new water spaces with new variety of fishes, the new IB wing ,the WI-fi, the new LCD s all await the students and am sure they would love it.The resource materials have gone through a complete change by its content and the looks.The teaching learning processes are going to be different too .

A new academic year always means new bags , new books and new  matching tiffin-boxes &water-bottles, pencil boxes etc . It makes one “feel new ” -an explainable freshness. I enjoyed it in my times and am sure kids continue to enjoy them even today .There is an anticipated excitement – a kind of curiosity -Who is the new class teacher , who is the PE teacher(that’s their favorite subject) and also who are the subject teachers.What is first day of school without all of these.

This year the newness is going to be even more exciting for the Elementary children especially..You are the only ones who are going to truly be India’s first to be going through this innovative idea. There are no books or bag to carry to school . But there is an inquisitiveness about how it is going to be .The suspense will certainly be worth the wait . Wait and watch … just a few days more.

Looking forward to meeting and greeting you all to school, my dearest students….

What makes the beginning of  every new academic year so exciting for children? The novelty of making new friends, having a new class teacher , new bag , new water  bottle , new tiffin boxes and new uniform. Is it not ? They look forward to the newness that they will experience.   These are all external add -on incentives .

How do we sustain that joy, wonder and curiosity in learning too? While children are all born intelligent , the extent to which a child maximises his /her potential given similar environment and opportunities decides their performance.Children swing back and forth from complacency to diligence and dedication to study We account these phases to moods.If it were so , can we devise ways to sustain the interest and commitment to continuous learning and up-gradation of knowledge.?

We did some research in school on the  relationship between processes and learning outcomes . Children learn better with a wide range of learning strategies, simply because it arouses curiosity and  wonder. If it interests them , they say “Real Fun” , otherwise it was “simply boring”.Monotony kills enthusiasm to learn and makes the exercise “boring”.The situation is worse if they have to repeat the exercise of “studying” under the watchful eyes of an expert once again after school hours.It is proven that That explains why the consistency in learning and performance is not maintained.some subjects are preferred over others.

Last year, we did not send the books home nor did we announce the dates of appraisals  for Grades I to IV.  The children were encouraged to become active learners. their questions helped us to redesign and reshape our curriculum. The outcomes were real – increase in participation in classroom discussions, moving from a more passive role to an active one,shaped the capacity for thinking critically , honing and honoring them, positive outcomes in team projects and improvement in class averages.These may not be very visible immediately but one can say with conviction that the results will be remarkable and gratifying.Facts and skills were important but they were only a means and not the  the end.

This academic year will greet children from KG to V differently They  will be guided to their seats in the classrooms by their own bags . The bags is customised in the House colours with the name of the child on each bag . We all love the game of Treasure Hunt. This treasure hunt will be with a difference .. They will try to spot their bags  that is strapped to the bag of the chair. The bags have pockets for books, geometry boxes , pencils , crayons ,color pencils etc Children will no longer carry bags with books to school . They will only need their tiffin boxes , water bottle and the school diary.They carry the bags to the next class as well  Made sturdy and slides neatly into the back of the chair . It can be strapped as well  What more- It has a cushioned head rest. The children were invited to give suggestions after they” experienced it.” They stumped me with their suggestion”Why not have a complete cushioned back. That would be more comfortable.” I smiled not wanting to make it too comfortable  .

How will it benefit children ? The onus of learning will be on the children . They will concentrate better in class  When they go home , they will assignments like reading , research , discussions with parents ,/grand parents ,reflective writing t do  All of this will reinforce and aid learning and thinking skills. At the end of the unit , they will have a worksheet for recapitulation of the conceptual understanding.. At the end of the whole chapter , children will do a mind map guided by the teacher initially and independently over a period of time .The  design of the mind map may not be identical for all children No one mind map is better than the other . One cannot make comparisons because  no two children are alike in their thinking but  they will know what they must.The perforated mind -map sheets will be sent home after every chapter .

With this intiative , we wish to encourage children to think creatively and learn  independently . They  will experience  the joy , remain curious to know more and express effectively because they will be endowed with the subtle intellect to delve , reflect and contemplate on their learning without have to do rote-learning or repetitive work monotonously(tuitions). The spirit of inquiry  or dogmas or notes.and self learning will develop in them logic and reason  which are not driven by monotonous study. We hope no incentives or reprimands would ever need to be offered for learning.

I am sure that when school reopens I will see sparkling eyes, good cheer and warm smiles with this new initiative of the school .After all , this innovation is  “by a Sulonian , for a Sulonian and by a Sulonian”.

Until then , enjoy your vacation.

Excerpts from my speech for parents to help them prepare children for Std. 1

This is an orientation of a different kind.  A preparation for the next academic year.  Our little kinds are now moving from the Senior most in the KG Section to be the junior most K-12 school.  This transition is a natural process for you and me but  it is a giant leap for all our 6 year olds  because they do not know what is in store for them. Their teachers on the last of school ,were all so beautifully turned out all for their kids . That is the bonding they share so lovingly . Will Grade 1 be any different?

How do we make this transition smooth and effective?  Let us take a walk down the corridors of the Kindergarten section. Kids are seated listening to their teachers narrate a story.  Their eyes matching the excitement of the story.  Smile and all other expressions brightening up their faces.   Another class is in the sand play and yet another in the water play area – in a complete world of their own having fun, unmindful of all the others who come in to watch them.  Everything moves at their pace, they are so much at home doing it under the watchful eyes of their teachers.  They are so comfortable with their friends they made two years back.   This informal system of learning has been exciting, fun and positive.

“Will I have all of these in Std. 1?”  My little friend asked me and I said, “Yes and lots more”.    From the very informal system, they will move to a more structured learning, from shorter hours at school,  they will move on to longer hours.  With the choice of second languages, our little ones may be in a different group.  Change is inevitable they say, and we accept it but with reluctance.  But this big transition is not so comfortable till the time we prepare them for it.

This change that one can see as our little ones enter grade 1, they are suddenly embarrassed about small things, they  cry over little things, little happenings.  They  build stories, add content out of their imagination, are easily influenced and will accept and reject friendship very easily.  Their friendship seem a little unstable and they can be a little unkind to their peers.  They will be easily hurt by criticism and may also be quite demanding and  crave for more affection from parents and teachers.

How can we make this transition effective and smooth?  Talking to children about our own childhood experiences creates a positive impression about the school, the academics, routines, helping the child to move from his comfort zone.  It also helps to create a consistent structure at home where there is a set pattern to be adopted so that the child can adapt to a more regulated and disciplined schooling.  Physical activities during the vacations will help them develop a lot of social skills.

Do we unknowingly use the lines “Grow up, you are in Grade 1 now or you are a big boy/girl, you can’t cry”. “Don’t act like a kid.  Children don’t get older in a month’s time.  Having huge expectations of behavior and interest in academics will lead to huge disappointments.When they return home a day after the first day in school , many would say ,”I don’t like Grade 1”.And the next day they would scream in delight about their “new best friend and the bestest(pardon the usage) teacher ,they ever had ”  Let us remember that they  are in mind and spirit our kindergartners.

As parents, let us spend the vacation engaging  them read , write and draw.They love it.  They  enjoy the activities as long as it does not lead to a judgement or being attached to an  achievement milestone  / goal . C

This is wishing all my Kindergartners  a happy, exciting journey.