Importance of Holistic Education

Teachers have multiple roles. They teach, they inspire and they motivate children. Often, all these functions are concentrated towards achieving higher marks in exams. This often burdens those children who are capable of being creative and are skilled at pursuits that are not examined through report cards. There is a famous TED Talk by Ken Robinson about how schools kill creativity.

Among his musings is one that has stuck profoundly, which we paraphrase: “teachers try to create more teachers”, not dancers, not singers, or not even engineers! We were therefore inspired to create this post, to remind our teachers the importance of activities that fall outside the curriculum.

Schools typically have two classes for co-curricular activities. Even that is often cut short on, during exam days, citing the need to ‘completing portions’ and for ‘course revision’. This has a debilitating effect on the children’s perspective on education. When the fun in school is taken out, education systems stand as roadblocks to children’s creativity. We must work towards bringing down those barriers. Let’s examine why, and how.

Co-curricular activities make education delightful!

What is the point of reciting a poem, if children are unable to create some of their own? Co-curricular activity should invigorate and stir the creative conscious of children. What is the use of knowing different forms of speech, if children are unable to piece together their opinions in debates? Co-curricular activity should make use of the curriculum at hand. Introduce poetry in English class, encourage children to write stories, ignite debates in class, and watch as children pick up the art of speaking boldly, clearly and smartly.

Extracurricular activities are a window to the world out there.

What would school be without a science exhibition? A shell, that’s what! Science exhibitions, English plays, Olympiads are wonderful ways of exposing students to greater heights in fields of their interest. To this end, we must also consider scholarships, which not only are the result of extracurricular interests shown by the students but something that will also help them in their higher studies. For example, prestigious scholarships such as Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) are awarded to students who take the time out to pursue extracurricular studies in basic sciences.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Playing a sport, dancing to the tunes of classical and/or popular music, singing soulfully, drawing caricatures, enacting plays, and so much more are activities that jolt children into the wonderland of studying the world around them! The pursuing hobbies is a lifestyle choice for people, and it would best be realized when encouraged throughout childhood. Hobbies such as dancing, sometimes, can even lead to careers in dance! Such offbeat careers are very much possible today, with guaranteed success. Similarly, our classrooms are probably hosting little Tendulkars who are discouraged from taking up a hobby they love. It’s the duty of us, the teachers, therefore, to allow children space and time to explore their interests and to pursue it with all their heart.

The best kind of education for the children should be a holistic one. Every child has an all-rounder in him/her. It is up to the teacher to harness the talents hidden in the children, without rules or prejudices about what constitutes education and what doesn’t. We aren’t saying all-rounders are those who can extempore with flair, who can read fiction for hours together, who can enact Shakespeare with panache, and who can score a goal in a football match are rare to come by. All-rounders are those who can enjoy all these activities, without feeling in any way less smart than children who can score centum in exams!

Let’s celebrate ALL our children; the painters and debaters alike, the toppers and footballers alike. Let’s ensure our children grow into excellent adults, with the education that’s holistic and well rounded. Let’s always remember that every child is a shining star in his/her own right. Let’s celebrate that awesomeness!

 

 

 


Do Students Look up to Your Assignments?

Assignments are usually dreaded by students, be it at the primary school level or during postgraduation. Few teachers manage to make their assignments interesting enough for students. Such a trend has made plagiarism rampant in many submissions. It is also not uncommon for children to seek the help of older members in their family to submit the assignment on time.

 

The top complaint from most children is that assignments are akin to copying texts from reference books. Most students wish for assignments that are not time-consuming and do not require lots of expertise. They also fervently wish that assignments ultimately ‘mean’ something and are not just given for the heck of it. Perhaps it is time for us teachers who have trouble with late or incomplete assignments submissions to have our assignments relooked at.

Here’s a checklist to find out if the quality of assignments given is good, bad or otherwise:

Is the assignment personalized?

Children love to give a personal touch to assignments. Hence, assignments that ask for their point of view on topics, or assignments that ask them to write a poem or story tend to arouse interest in the students. The assignments that require students to conduct home experiments are considered some of the best, as these have a personalized touch and incite learning by doing.

Are the assignments the same for all students?

Students are smart. Often, they are smarter than the teachers expect. Common assignments are thus easily copied by everyone in the class, without any regrets. Such a habit must not be encouraged through assignments that are given en masse. Students should be given different topics as assignments. This may even prompt a discussion among them, on the given topics.

Do students learn from each other during assignments?

Two minds are better than one. Therefore, when more than one student works on a given problem statement, the solutions are noticeably better. Teachers must hence try to involve as many students as possible in the projects assigned to the class. Examples are science projects, plays, etc., which require a group effort. If this is not possible, teachers can also give marks to groups, according to the aggregate marks secured by the members of the group. This will encourage students to peer review their assignments and projects, something that’s very effective in the learning process.

Are assignments time consuming?

Assignments should not come in the way of daily studies and daily play. They should be a healthy part of the day, and should typically be around a half hour to one hour long. Beyond that, the tired minds of students will not work at their optimum capacity. But that’s not to be the case for secondary classes, where assignments are week-long. In such cases, time management is up to the children themselves. But even then, students must not be burdened, lest they grow a dislike to the subject itself!

 

 

 

Are they meant for students or experts?

Science experiments and projects are the usual suspects for an involvement of outside hands in the students’ assignments. This is simply because the expectations of the teachers from these projects are too high. Gone are the days when a student could bring lenses to class to explain phenomena of light, now the student has to come equipped with a PowerPoint presentation, a huge chart with explanations, and thankfully the lenses too. Such work requires expertise, which is expected of graduate students, not primary or secondary class goers.

 

 

To sum it up, assignments should be in the interest of students. They should not overburden them, and neither should they pressurize the children to stretch beyond their capacity. Also, assignments should be made more fun, so that the children respond to the demands of the class in a way that is encouraging to the teacher as well as fun for the children! Assignments are not meant to be dreary. They are a way to take back the fun and warmth of classrooms to home, in keeping with the fact that education is a never ending process.

 

 


One-to-Few: The Right Way Forward

“I need a teacher to provide personal attention to my child to ensure he learns well”

“My child needs to learn the following and I see that he is struggling a bit to do the same – Need your help on this”

We are sure while you read the above sentences, you were visualizing images of different parents who spoke the same words to you.

Now the real question is:

What does the student (or) a parent want from a teacher? Is it just personal attention to facilitate student learning?

(or)

Is it an achievement of the student’s learning outcome in an enjoyable learning environment? In simple words ‘Is the student learning and enjoying the way he/she learned things?’

I am sure there is no guidance required for anyone in picking the correct one from the above two questions.

It has been several years since the concept of ‘Individual Tutoring’ and ‘Group Tutoring’ gained popularity as extension avenues to everyday learning from the schools. But to us at vedantu, the questions are-

  1. Can One-on-One sessions provide an environment where students can collaborate?
  2. Can a group tuition ensure sufficient interaction time and attention span of the teacher with all students?

The solutions to these question lie in the fact that a great blend of offerings could enable a teacher handle both the above challenges effectively and make learning fun for the students.

One-to-Few – An offering where teacher handles just 3 to 7 students.

A blended model of teaching where the learning is personalized and gives enough room for each student to learn from his/her peers.

This calls for a detailed analysis of what this can do to the students and the teacher:

  • Bonding within students and between the teacher and students is very strong
  • This opens up room for the teacher to apply varied pedagogy
  • Students have the opportunity to support and learn from each other
  • Avenues for student interaction are more.
  • Opportunity to provide personalized feedback still remains intact for the teacher
  • Peer teaching and learning can be encouraged
  • Teacher has the option to conduct group-based learning activities
  • Content sharing/assessment evaluation happens in a controlled environment

Just awesome…Isn’t it? The new offering seamlessly handles a lot of learning and teaching challenges and yet offers interaction and blooming opportunities for students.

What do you think, don’t we see ANY challenges at all with this new offering to impart learning?

An honest answer would be – Yes, we do see some of them. The most common ones coming from teachers would be –

“As a teacher, I have varying levels of learners in the same batch”.

“I do not have enough time to interact with all students”

Though it seems that we should agree to the above challenges that teachers face, but with time and experience, we have understood that these challenges are only exclusive to unprepared teachers.

Now that we know the lacunae, let’s see how effectively we can handle them and explore a few ways to make the sessions awesome for both – the teacher and students

Do the Homework Right

Have a plan ready for each level of learner in your batch. Remember, these plans should ideally be the strategies that can be applied to learners in all your batches. These strategies can be broadly devised for three phases of your sessions- Pre-Session, In-Session & Post-Session. (These examples are just a few among the hundreds. It is just a question of exploring them)

For example, you can get to know the level of learners well before your session by asking them to fill a KWL chart

KWL

You can also get a hang of the student’s understanding of the concept taught by an Exit Ticket

Exit Ticket

You can additionally check the understanding of the entire group and individual students by asking them to create Concept cards/Theme Cards on the taught concept. The best part of this exercise is, students are allowed to create the listed parameters to cover the concept on their own, which they cannot do without going through the understanding of the concept and these tools can be used in all subjects as well.

Theme cards

Involve Multiple Intelligences

When a student can learn in different ways…Why teach them in one way?

Every student is different and unique are their learning abilities and adaptation to teaching styles. Some students grasp the concept well, just by verbal communication to them. Others understand well through images –Images & drawings. Whereas some are comfortable learning by doing various activities. Others may understand a concept well by practicing several worksheets. Also, it is a proven fact that students learn quickly and retain most concepts taught to them using multimedia.

Once a teacher makes sure that his/her session involves a blend of teaching tools and methodologies, catering to the aforesaid needs, the question of teaching effectiveness doesn’t even arises. The teaching is bound to be effective even for a set of students with varied learning levels.

Encourage Peer Learning through Collaborative Activities

It is a proven fact that students feel more comfortable to ask questions and express their lack of understanding on any concept with their peers. In a confined group with the same learning objectives, it is very easy to make students teach their fellow mates and learn from them as well. Remember, every student feels proud when given an opportunity to impart learning to his/her peers. They express well, collaborate and arrive at lateral outputs when given a chance to work as a team.

Customize Assessment Strategies

Work out a plan to customize your assignments and tests for students with the different pace of learning. Give a comprehension-level assignment for a slow learner, which would boost his/her confidence in learning the concept. Once the comprehension-level assignment is completed, the slow learner gains the confidence to go for the next level assignment and the teacher should encourage and ensure he/she completes the same as well.

Similarly, an application/synthesis-level assignment for a quick learner gives him/her opportunity to express the subject expertise and boosts creativity helping them move to the next level

Create Avenues for offline interaction

A WhatsApp group can do wonders to facilitate offline interaction between you and the students, as well as amongst the students of the batch. You can safely utilize the platform to introduce the peers, check their learning progress, and solve doubts or any other difficulties.

We are sure with slight modifications in your teaching style, your students can achieve oodles of confidence in the subject/topic taught and would add multi-fold to your teaching effectiveness.

Content and Pedagogy are directly proportional to the effectiveness if any One-to-Few session. It is your preparation, the plan and the genuine willingness to execute that creates all the difference.

Trust Us… at the End of the day… It is truly worth it…

 

This article is contributed by Dr. Sundar Rabindranathan

He is an educational consultant and trainer who has trained students & teachers in more than 300 schools throughout India. Sundar currently heads Teacher Management at Vedantu and likes to play badminton in his free time.

 

 

 

 


My Journey with Vedantu so far…

Via this blog I would like to share my experience as a teacher/educator/mentor on Vedantu.

For quite some time in my career, I worked as a full-time researcher and teacher. The amalgamation of both jobs was exciting, as well as demanding. Research has my heart while teaching has my soul. As both of them are my favorites, I wanted to pursue both of them, but time forced me to make a choice and I chose to follow my soul – I chose to be a teacher!

During my stint at research projects, I learnt a lot about my subject but the growth in my career was stifled and painfully slow. Since I  made my mind to teach, I joined as a Biology teacher in a school in Andhra Pradesh and as the time passed, I realized I am more content in the profession than everything I did before. I enjoyed teaching and it was a pleasure to solve problems of my students. I always made it a point that I clear their doubts and they enjoy my classes and eventually, learn about the subject. Realizing some shortcomings that the brick & mortar/classroom teaching has, I decided to move out of the school teacher’s job and took up more compelling online tutoring.

Since 2013, I have worked for quite some online platforms as a Biology tutor. Online tutoring not only gave me the flexibility, freedom and convenience to work from home as per my convenience; I could dodge the mad traffic, workplace stress, and travel tiredness and enjoy my time doing what I love, right from my ‘home sweet home.’

I joined Vedantu in Jan’15 and have been working as an online biology tutor since then. Vedantu not only reinforced my self-confidence and teaching skills but elevated my growth & earning potential as well. Their continuous support for tutoring sessions whether it is related to content, students or any other issues is outstanding!

The foremost thing that attracted me towards the platform was their respect for teachers. I have seen a lot of online tutoring firms not giving the due respect to the teachers on their platforms & treating them as mere revenue generators. But I must say that Vedantu understands the value of teachers and gives them the due respect.

I am sure you’ll agree with me, teachers work relentlessly to impart right education         and life skills to their students and all they want in return is to see their students             grow  and an acknowledgment of their efforts in making a great nation.

Secondly, I am a very fair person who loves thing black & white. The transparency that I have seen so far in Vedantu’s system is definitely worth praising. Tutors can talk to the parents or students at any time of the day and help them out with their problems, which I feel  lacks in a lot of other companies in the industry. A lot of companies don’t even share the details of the student and they mediate each communication between the tutor and the student.

Isn’t it the ‘trust’ that we all crave for? Somewhere I believe, a transparent system reflects higher degrees of trust that the management & system have in you – that of course boosts your confidence!

Before joining Vedantu, I was always skeptical of online tutoring & thought it would be a mundane and not-so-interactive work, but Vedantu has negated all my notions and proved me wrong by offering the best possible means to interact & engage with a student that a teacher can have.

Although I have talked a lot about my journey at vedantu already, but if I don’t mention these few incidences, I wouldn’t  be doing justice to this post.   

one day I got a call from a parent at 10 PM and he was jubilant that his kid scored very good marks in her SA1 exams. Now he makes sure to take my suggestions for preparing his daughter to score better in all her exams. I must admit, the bond that has developed over a short period of time and with just the virtual mode of communication is beyond comparison to any offline interaction with the students and parents. Also, quite a times I have felt that sense of pride of being a teacher and being recognized for what I love doing.

In another incidence, I got a call from a parent whose appreciation gave me a lot of confidence. She said, “ wouldn’t it be nice if you have your clones to teach other subjects.” She thanked me for my patience and was really happy with the improvement she saw in her kid.

A positive feedback from students/parents always encourages and motivates me to improve and contribute to their learnings at my best. The entire coterie of students and parents now gives me a homely feel and is more like a family to me.

I am thankful to the entire team of Vedantu for putting up a great platform and giving me this wonderful opportunity. I am thoroughly enjoying my work and appreciating every bit of it.  

The post is contributed by Mrs. Manisha Bhala, a Biology tutor at Vedantu.

Mrs. Manisha Bhala has been teaching since last 6 years. She is a postgraduate in Medical Genetics and actively pursued research during the initial phase of her career. Apart from teaching, she enjoys gardening and exploring the roads driving.


How Can You Help Your Students be Exam Ready?

Year tab on the calendar has already moved on and the cold air has started warming up a little. Suddenly there is a buildup of a dreadful, irky and gloomy environ around our students’ minds in the preview of examinations.

Let’s get along and help clear this stress and darkness around their minds to let them excel in the exams.

Below are some points we must take care to help students walk towards the path of success without being overburdened with tasks and preparatory jitters.

1 – Assess the academic weak areas of your students and take sessions to improve. Conducting tests, evaluating carefully and providing constructive feedback are the key. Keep the parents informed about ward’s progress.

Weak Link

2- Revision plays an important role during this period, keep enough time for recapitulatory classes and don’t forget to share your own tips & tricks to revise quickly.

Revision

3- Discuss the blueprint and marking scheme with your students. Many a time students do not answer as per marks allotted for question, awareness will surely improve the performance.

Exam-Blue-print-1

4- Do emphasize on exam and study planning, this would definitely help them be more prepared and confident of their preparation for the D-day. Don’t forget to mention the importance of double-checking attempted answers.

Exam study plan

5- Encourage your students to attempt mock tests within the stipulated time, this would help them introspect their preparedness. Sample papers will be shared with you for CBSE and ICSE classes 6 to 10, feel free to share these with your students.

mock test

6- Involve & educate parents. In many a cases, parents add on to the pressure the child is going through. Help them understand their children are already on the course to reach their potential and they should support them in reaching the pinnacle.

Involve Parents in education

We are sure, you are already preparing your students for the upcoming examinations full-throttle and these tiny tips will come handy to you.

Happy teaching and exam preparation!

Image Courtesy – Google Images.


Five Reasons to Teach Beyond Prescribed Syllabus

A Happy New Year to All of You!

We thought today is the right time to discuss the need of teaching out of prescribed syllabus with our teaching community. Especially when the examinations are right around the corner, we should encourage our students to cement their concepts by exploring the subject in depth, which would help them crack their exams like a cake!

Children often complain after exams that the questions were out of the syllabus. Teachers are repeatedly told to strictly follow the syllabus and to not digress too much, which more often than not, stifles the learning process of the children.

 

syllabus
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Textbooks are a one-size-fits-all creation. It is expected to be an umbrella of knowledge, and underneath it, it’s perfectly alright to teach more and to delve into subjects deeper. Teaching beyond syllabus, in our opinion, is the most interesting and exciting way to teach.

Why is teaching beyond syllabus, by definition “unnecessary”, a necessary component for holistic education? We have five reasons.

Reason 1: It enhances the learning process

The more we teach by going beyond syllabus, the bigger picture or deeper picture we can make available to our students. This will make them take more interest in the topic and enhance their learning process. This is especially true because the proverbial threat of exams does not lurk in the corner when it comes to learning out of syllabus topics.

Reason 2: Curiosity does not kill the cat

That’s one myth that needs to be busted. Really, the more curious a child, the more promising he/she is! When students ask questions, it is a clear indicator of their interest and understanding in the subject. This must be encouraged and nurtured. It might require teachers to venture out of the typical curricula. For instance, if a student shows great interest in botany, a trip to the nearby botanical garden is perhaps called for!

Reason 3: The class can go exploring!

Scientists, engineers, and the greatest names we know today went exploring for truths. They indulged in research. The research comes with a zest for more and more knowledge. Little Einsteins are also born that way. It is empirically proven that interests in subjects are sparked by factors that are not always related to the curriculum. Sometimes, questioning the behaviour of sub-atomic particles, which lies out of the scope of typical science textbooks could lead children to take up summer research jobs in labs that encourage children to do the same. In fact, such research-based study is highly lauded by prestigious scholarship programs throughout the country. Students who have a vast volume of knowledge are bound to be better equipped to deal with higher studies in the said subject.

Exploring.png
Source

Reason 4: It makes teaching non-repetitive and keeps it fun

This is one of those few cases where you cut the cake and you eat it too! Teaching out of syllabus makes students learn more, and is also fulfilling for spirited teachers. Often, teachers are told to stick to the syllabus. Teachers can only twist and turn the given material in limited ways, and eventually, the teaching process loses a lot of its charm. We should keep a little leg room to explore other peripheral topics for our students. Imagine teaching students about Indian poets like Irfan Habib or Tiruvalluvar when covering poetry by Sylvia Plath or Oscar Wilde.

 

Group Teaching
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Reason 5: Topics Out of syllabus are interesting too

Out-of-syllabus topics can be taught through industrial visits, picnics, games and much more. Since they are not part of the syllabus, we teachers have all the flexibility in the world to innovate and think out of the box when trying to teach these topics. However, it is important to beware of the time that such interesting topics can consume.

In sum, teaching beyond syllabus is welcomed by students and offer an interesting opportunity for us teacher to overcome mundane teaching. It is not only fun, but it also enhances the learning process of the children. Teaching out of syllabus also creates more little Einsteins than teaching from the syllabus. Let’s not be bound by the given curricula. Let us think out of the box, and let us make our lessons more memorable.


Work Hard and Work Smart!

Hard work is the golden path to success, and that is no exaggeration. Hard work is also the most powerful tool that one can use, to become successful. It can stand head and shoulders above even luck and intelligence.

Hard work is especially important for young children. Young minds find everything fascinating! Be it the colors of the rainbow or the reason behind 1 + 1 = 2. It will surprise you to know that these questions are worked on, by scientists and mathematicians, day and night. Such work is “hard work”, and only such commitment will be able to produce Einsteins and Newtons. Or, for that matter, even a Mark Zuckerberg or Narayana Murthy.

The virtue of hard work is subjective. What our parents called hard work, might not be enough for us today, or it might be too redundant for us. For instance, hard work in our parents’ age meant sifting through thick volumes so as to write an essay. These days, such vast knowledge is available on the internet, with just a few clicks. Besides, it will take only a fraction of the time that our parents might have taken, a generation ago!

Parents and teachers are often guilty of pressurizing children to work hard. Poor grades are seen as the result of laggard work. So, children are forced to put in many hours at the study table, in order to “study harder”. This does two things: it makes the child feel his or her effort was worthless and drains him or her mentally and physically.

Instead of forcing children to slog it out at their desks, we must encourage children to study hard while studying smart! What does it mean to study smart? It means to study for less time, but to study effectively.

Smart work

(Image Source – Quora)

Here are some great tips to study smart:

Understand the big picture – then, the small details will make more sense. Look at lessons on the world war through a wide lens, understand its effects, the circumstances of its breaking out; then the minor details of the war will make more sense, and you’ll easily be able to recollect it in the exam hall!

Smaller hacks:

When you study something new, teach it to someone. Teaching a subject imprints the subject matter in your mind. No wonder our teachers are so good at the subjects they teach, eh?

Use imagery when studying. For instance, imagine people talking to each other in the ‘Christmas Carol’ play, imagine blocks arranging themselves to understand geometry.

geometry

(image source – amazon.in)

Make mind maps, flowcharts that help in interconnecting topics. When you interlink parts of a subject, it becomes an easily digestible organic whole. That will make you a master of that subject!

Don’t spend too much time studying before exams – it will stress you out. Instead, study regularly. Have a timetable and follow it religiously. At the same time, ensure that your timetable is actually workable. It must be easy to follow. Give yourself time to play, time to read storybooks, time to watch a good movie, etc.

timetable

(image source – Pinterest)

Last, but not the least, never give up. To quote Babe Ruth, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up!”

Hard work is not hard, it’s a methodical way of approaching a problem. Hard work may be confused with long hours spent with books. Hard work, however, is a magical mixture of working smartly and being disciplined to the point of perfecting your skills through practice!

To conclude, always remember, “There is no substitute for hard work.” – Thomas Edison