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!

 

 

 


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.

 

 

 

 


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
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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.


5 Powerful Tips for Teachers to Teach Right

Teaching and teaching it right is a tough job in itself, and when you have a few difficult kids to deal with, it becomes even tougher.  Worry not, today in this post, you will see 5 powerful tips that will help you teach more effectively. These tips will not only help professional teachers to teach better, but also homemakers, mothers and tutors to deal with children more effectively.

1- Mind Your Tone & Voice

The general course of action followed for handling difficult kids is to shut them up with a huge shout or lecture them for their misbehavior or lack of attention. You Shouldn’t! The more you shout on, yell at or lecture a child, it is more likely that the child will dislike you and become resentful.

Rule of thumb is to NEVER ever lose your cool! If students discover a few of your pain points that raises your tension, they’ll keep triggering it time and again. The more calmly you handle the situation, the easier it becomes for the child to build the rapport with you.

Also, don’t shower them with false praises it’ll do more bad than good, instead give them targets to accomplish and praise them on real achievements.

2- Build the Foundation Right

Talk to your students, understand their requirements, counsel them whenever needed and be with them as their mentor and friend. Keeping some pre-conceived notions regarding your students would be the last thing to do as a teacher. Completely avoid being judgmental, let your students feel at ease, greet them with a smile and let them know you are really happy to teach them. To teach effectively, striking the right cord with students is really important.

Set the expectations right with the students and let them know of the consequences in both positive and negative scenario. Stick to your rules, the child should be convinced of the same consequences every time he/she fulfills the expectation. This would motivate them to meet the expectations most of the times.

3- Be Positive, Proactive & a Good Mentor

Being positive is something every teacher should follow and follow it very religiously. Being positive not only gives you strength to deal with everyday hurdles in dealing with difficult kids, but also lifts you up along with kids and people surrounding you. Proactively monitor the entire set of students and figure out the ones who need your attention most. Make them sit near you or make sure you stay near them during the teaching hours – this ensures the child is attentive during learning.

Try to be their friend, appreciate them for their achievements in front of everyone, but don’t shout on them publically, shaming in front of everyone doesn’t work at all. Share with them your own anecdotes – this will inspire them.

4- Make Learning Interactive and Interesting

Gone are the days when teachers used to stand at a podium and deliver the lecture and pupil used to jot down from the little written on the blackboard. These days’ students are more informed and resist boring lecture methodology of teaching. To keep the interest alive, use activities, give examples from day-to-day life and involve them as much as you can in the teaching.

Try ‘gamifying’ the lessons, this builds healthy competition among the students and make it more interesting for kids to understand the concept. Also, make use of ‘peer instruction’ in your sessions – this encourages direct participation of students in learning. Studies have proven that peer instruction harnesses pupils’ collective knowledge to deliver measurable improvements in learning.

5- Build relationship with students & Parents

Have you heard of teaching or learning happening in silo? It never happens! Try connecting with your students at a personal level. Know their interests, ask them about their family, relate with them on common grounds. Take out some time for interacting – talk with their peer, involve parents, and take help from your colleagues to know about the student better. Appreciate them for their achievements in co-curricular activities, including sports, choir singing, theater performance, etc. Regularly follow-up with parents for keeping a tab on child’s improvement on the behavioral front at home.  Educate parent and involve them in corrective steps.

We believe with these few handy tips, you’ll be able to handle your students more effectively and teach them more efficiently. We would love to read more about your experiences, don’t forget to share them with us in the comment section.