Towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society

Enabling Schools to be Vibrant Learning Environments

A self-inspired teacher is instrumental in making the school a vibrant learning environment. A vibrant learning environment can be created in two folds in a school—at the classroom level and at the school level. At the classroom level, the lessons that are taught have to include interesting hands-on elements. And, at the school level, the students need to be engaged in club activities that take the school forward, and, thereby, aids in the growth of the students, providing them an exposure through the participation in competitions at the district and state levels. Collectively, it transforms not just individual students, but the overall culture of the school.

School is a place where small children metamorphose into bright sharp adults. A school is a model of a community where future citizens are being sculpted by the artisans. It is for this reason that a teacher’s role must not be limited to imparting knowledge through the content of the textbook. Teachers need to do things beyond teaching and transform themselves in order to become influential mentors, a guru, an acharya. As an influential mentor, a teacher must shoulder responsibilities of the school to make it a dynamic space; involve in co-curricular activities, improve systems and processes in the school, in addition to teaching. All of this requires one to be self-motivated and to take initiatives, not waiting for instructions from outside.

Planning is critical to execute an idea. It gives shape to our ideas. We can categorize our ideas into short-term and long-term plans. The short-term plans include those that are more teaching centric—lesson ideas and hands-on activities, use of ICT, student-led seminars, etc.—to make the class more exciting and engaging. Long-term plans are consistent efforts over a period of time. For this, the students need to be exposed to the outside world by participating in various competitions from the school to the state level, such as science exhibitions, seminars, dramas, etc. Equally important would be to engage the students in community-oriented programs, such as NGC, NCC, and CSS, or school-level programs, such as “Green School” or “Self-Sustainable School”, and the like.

Short-term Plans:

To select an activity in any topic, it is necessary to first identify the difficult portions in that topic and list out the misconceptions that the students may have. The different hands-on activities must enable students to clarify their misconceptions and achieve conceptual clarity. To supplement the activities, visual aids, group activities, and discussions can be organized. These activities must generate excitement among the students.

While preparing the timetable at the beginning of the academic year, it is preferable to allot one block period a week for your subject. This allows one to plan activities in that block period, since, typically, it takes two periods to complete an entire activity. If, for any reason, the timetable does not accommodate a block period, seek an adjustment with your colleagues. Plan for materials beforehand. Sometimes, I ask the students to bring some materials, while, at other times, I seek the support of organizations like the APF as well. If planned properly, experts in the field can be invited to the school in order to conduct a class for the students.

Soap-making activity is an example of the activities that can be done with students of the sixth standard. The students were not only able to learn how to make a soap, but they also got to learn about the measurement of volume of liquids and solids. One could see in their eyes the excitement upon seeing the final product—a soap made by them. Students of the ninth standard learnt to identify the flora and fauna in the school campus and to relate biotic and abiotic factors in the food chain. When classes are conducted in this manner, changes in students’ attitude becomes very evident. They start engaging more enthusiastically in the classroom activities and their interest in the subjects deepens.

Long-term Plans:

Planning and managing time is critical for a smooth execution of a task. Having a pre-planned calendar and schedule helps to discuss the events with the head of the institution and with colleagues and students as well. Most events are more or less fixed to happen in the following months as shown below.

  • National Children’s Science Congress: June to September​
  • Wipro-Earthian: October to December​
  • Science Exhibition: October or November​
  • Science Drama: December to January​

Children have to be motivated and oriented to get themselves involve in such activities. They may initially be disinterested or hesitant. However, once they get the taste of success, they will turn around and be eager to participate in these programs. In my school, the students voluntarily participated in various competitions and won many prizes (NCSC, Wipro Earthian).Utilize the opportunities made available through the assembly to discuss these ideas with the students. The teacher has to take some time out of their schedule to get inputs and ideas regarding their vision of a good school, how they would like to improve their school, classes, etc.

Participating in co-curricular events facilitates the all-round personality development of the students. They discover their potential and learn what they are capable of doing. They learn to work hard in a team and stand by their team. Winning prizes also gives them a sense of accomplishment. They grow to become more confident of themselves and their abilities.

Programs of Inspiration:

  • Learning festival was a wonderful program, where the students presented what they had learnt in the science classroom. It reinforced the idea that what they see in the world around is what they learn in the class.
  • School-level Science exhibition enabled the students to display their creativity.
  • Through Science drama, the students learnt that science is not just a subject, it is connected to life.
  • Women Empowerment Program gave more confidence to girls, who comprise a large in number in the school.
  • Celebrating festivals like Pongal strengthened the bond between the teachers and the students.
  • As a part of the club activities, the students created a compost pit in the school campus and learnt how to do vermicomposting with the assistance and guidance of the CERD Foundation. They also engaged in water-auditing in the school and established rainwater harvesting mechanisms in the school.

An inspired mentor ignites the fire in the minds of their students and makes the school a vibrant learning environment. In the process, the teachers will discover the unlimited potential hidden inside us. It helps us grow in our career, and our students learn to break out of their shell, spread their wings, and fly. Whatever I am doing is a tiny drop in a huge ocean, and I realize it is a continuous process. The day I stop, the learning will also stop. Therefore, I have miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep. ■

Teacher: V. Jayasundhar, T.G.T., C.G.H.S. Abishegapakkam, Puducherry

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Perspective Type: 
Classroom Management