The Teacher Foundation | Official Blog
On the one hand Bangalore is booming with new schools that promise their students a progressive & world class education. On the other hand, the city's old established schools are having difficulty attracting the best teachers like they used to a couple of decades ago. Indeed teacher attrition is a crisis that all schools are struggling with.
Teachers are the most important resource for a school. The reputation of every great school has been solely built on the basis of its teachers and headteachers. And yet this vital human resource has today become an almost transient commodity that keeps hopping schools. This is deeply problematic. When there's frequent movement of teachers and headteachers, Students are deprived of the stability and security they deserve in their formative learning years. Moreover teachers deprive themselves of the time and equilibrium that's needed to reflect and mature into inspiring and legendary educators.
This collective aims at looking squarely at this problem and discussing all the possible reasons for teacher attrition and practical ways to stem this outflow. Some of these ways could be personal, others philosophical and still others managerial & financial.
In this context, TTF is bringing together a panel of experienced school heads from schools across Bangalore, to share their experiences and thoughts on ways they have effectively dealt with teacher attrition. As members of the audience you too will be invited to share your views and concerns. So do come and participate in what promises to be an engrossing and illuminating session.
Date & Time: Friday, 17th Feb 2017 from 2:30 pm – 5.30 pm
Venue: The Chancery Hotel, A10/6 Lavelle Road, Bangalore- 560001
Tea/coffee and snacks will be provided ! There is no registration fee.
Do confirm your participation by writing to Ms. Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 95918 24944/8095587431/9901065484
That education today is evolving is an understatement! It is so very different from what it used to be even ten years ago. With the ever present Internet and social media, students are much more aware of what is happening around them. Educators therefore need to constantly evolve their methods of teaching to deal with the challenges of contemporary classrooms.
Whether it’s about a student not faring well in math, or it's about making the classroom environment more engaging, or the staff room brighter and more inviting, preoccupation with these routine problems tend to result in loss of productive time in school and eventually take away creative energy and focus from the overall physical, emotional and cognitive development of students as well as educators in our school spaces. One vital way of addressing this is through using an approach that's gaining currency in education - design thinking.
First of all, what is design thinking?
So why not design in education too? Teachers play a very integral role in the development of not just the children, but also the school itself. In more ways than one, teachers are designers. They design the atmosphere of the school so that kids want to go back to school the next day. They design the feeling of belonging and familiarity, a sense of trust and inclusiveness. They design the curriculum, so that students are learning with meaning. They design the system and morals of the school so that students feel it is their second home. All these things hold value and bring integrity and identity to the school.
So, how can design thinking be used in schools?
Succinctly put, design thinking is a process. It's a process that involves identifying a problem, observing and understanding the causes and effects of the problem, arriving at an opinion, brainstorming, collaborating and ideating to come up with possible solutions to the problem, making quick prototypes and testing the solutions. The solution might not necessarily work, but it will offer a perspective on how to take the process forward and go back to the drawing board and to test the next prototype.
At the school level, it may be about how to make a class more engaging and collaborative, or, about how to make homework more relevant and fun, or how to encourage students to think out of the box, or even about designing a vegetable garden for the school. The same human-centric process can be applied in solving many other common problems that educators face.
In fact, the design consultancy firm IDEO, collaborated with Riverdale Country School, San Francisco, and came out with a Design toolkit for Educators that was tested by the school. There were guidelines for teachers to come together and collaborate to tackle some of the challenges they faced with school students and spaces in school in general. They brainstormed, came up with ideas, good and bad, with no one making any judgments and identified solutions that surprised themselves!
The Role of Failure in Design Thinking
The process can be very messy since no one knows the right answers, it is important to not be too dogmatic about where to start. It's more about moving ahead in the process. It is also important to know that it is alright to fail. Failing is an integral part of the process, and almost a necessity. In fact, failure is just the next step. What is more important is to understand why it failed and what you can do to make it better.
So, why use design thinking?
- It teaches us multiple ways to problem solve.
- It teaches us to think outside the box.
- It shows us how to be more aware of our surroundings.
- It teaches us to be open-minded.
- It teaches us to fail and move on.
- It teaches us to be more understanding about other people’s problems.
- Most importantly, it teaches us to be more empathetic.
Encouraging these traits in a student or an educator can completely transform any space and make it much more inviting and inclusive. Design thinking can really broaden minds and help to get a better understanding of a situation. It lets you get perspective from several sides and promotes positive growth.
What defines you as a teacher?
A “selfie' is worth a thousand words and more!
Tell us what defines you as a teacher in the most creative way possible through a selfie and you stand a chance to win an exciting series of TPODs for yourself and your teacher colleagues.
What you need to do?
- Capture yourself in a selfie that shows how you define yourself as a teacher.
- Write a sentence stating why you think teaching is the best profession in the world.
- Post your Selfie hashtagging #MeTheTeacher along with the sentence on The Teacher Foundation's Facebook Wall or Twitter Feed.
THREE of the most creative self-defining teacher selfies will win access to TPODs for 20 teachers in your school, including yourself.
How to post #MeTheTeacher Selfie?
- If you are on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/teacherfoundation and upload your selfie there, hashtagging #MeTheTeacher and your sentence on why teaching is the best profession in the world
- If you are on Twitter, hashtag #MeTheTeacher and upload your selfie there, hashtagging #MeTheTeacher and your sentence on why teaching is the best profession in the world
When to post?
On 5 September 2016 between 9 am and 9 pm IST
Please note you need to be an Indian teacher teaching in schools in India or anywhere else in the world to be eligible to participate in this contest.
We are delighted to announce this month's Collective. This collective is titled What Schools Miss Out. Our guest speaker is Poonam Bir Kasturi, who is also fondly called Compostwali !
So what do schools miss out ?
To quote Poonam:
“1. Our work over the last 10 years in the urban Indian context of waste, points to some positive and some very disturbing observations about student competencies when they leave their schooling programme. The latter are in fact serious because we believe that these attitudes, mindsets and values directly impact the health of our planet.In her talk Poonam will explain how simple changes in the daily life of a school could have far reaching national impact. She will provide different practical, implementable directions that School Leaders could initiate to see the veracity of her arguments. The session will end with a Q & A
2. Schools especially in India are in a unique position to be a driver and leader in making a positive impact on India’s environmental health. They have a position of power and authority to create change.
3. While School Leaders are already over loaded with work and the challenges of keeping up with the latest in educational reform, our work reveals that we don’t need 'big' or 'time consuming' or 'the latest teaching methodology' to achieve that change.”
Who is Poonam Bir Kasturi ?
Poonam wears many hats, the favorite of which is her 'witch hat'. She often pulls new & interesting things out of it that challenge her team at Daily Dump. Poonam is trained as an Industrial Designer from the National Institute of Design, has worked as a Design Educator and she now talks to trees, bacteria, clouds and keeps everyone on their toes! As founder of Daily Dump she is passionate about designing for behaviour change around the challenges of waste in urban India. Daily Dump is a brand that she has developed and built to bring fresh perspectives and thought leadership to the sector.
I look forward to having you at what promises to be an engrossing and interactive session.
Date & Time: 22nd July 2016 at 2.45 pm – 5.30pm
Venue: Chancery Hotel, Lavelle Road
Tea/coffee and snacks will be provided ! There is no registration fee.
Do confirm your participation by writing to Nancy / Shane at email@example.com or call 95918 24944 / 8095587430
wastage of precious time spent in commuting across the city.
We are delighted to announce 2016's Second School Leaders' Collective for schools in and around Bangalore Central. The theme of the collective is Fostering Creativity in Schools - the role of the dramatic arts. There is a large amount of rhetoric about schools needing to foster life-skills, critical
thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication, popularly called the 21 st century skills, in their students. And schools attempt to address this additional demand on curricular time by having external specialists and service-providers plug this need as a 'bolt-on'. Unfortunately this only serves as a cosmetic
enhancement rather than truly adding value to a child's learning experience.
Drama is the one medium that can incorporate all these 21st century skills organically, with demonstrable learning outcomes. Our guest speaker for the day – Jehan Manekshaw makes an emphatic case for authentic ways of integrating
drama into the learning fabric of every school and the vital role of the school leader in taking this curricular decision. He will also share the different ways in which schools have successfully incorporated drama into their curriculum.
Jehan has a BA in Theatre Direction from Wesleyan College, USA and a MFA in Theatre Directing from Birbeck College, University of London, UK. He is the founder of the Mumbai-based Theatre Professionals. He has also taught as a guest faculty in Ninasam Theatre Institute, Attakallari Centre for Movement Arts
and is a core team member of the Young People's Theatre Programme I look forward to having you at what promises to be an engrossing and interactive session on 12 February 2016.
Following are the details of the School Leaders' Collective:
Date & Time: 12 February 2016 at 2.30 pm – 5.00 pm
Venue: The Chancery Hotel, “Lavelle Hall” No.10/6, Lavelle Road, Next to Reliance Jewels (Mitra
Towers), Bangalore -560001,
Hand outs, tea/coffee and snacks will be provided ! There is no registration fee.
Do confirm your participation by writing to Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 95918 24944/Nisha 80955 87430 /Mahesh 95918 24945/Ashuthosh 8095587431
- R. S. Vasanthi (Cadambi Vidyakendra, Bangalore)
- Sailata V (Silver Oaks, Bangalore)
- Uma Venkataraman (Cambridge Public School, Bangalore)
- Vinutha R Shetty (BGS National Public School, Bangalore)
- K .Pramod (Sindhi High School, Bangalore)
- Neema Koppole (Christel House India, Bangalore)
- Seema Bagrodia (Deens Academy, Bangalore)
- Rohini R (Vidyanikethan Public School, Bangalore)
- Shanthi S Raman (Deccan International School, Bangalore)
- J Selvi Gladys (Army Public School, Bangalore)
- Sathi Menon (Christel House India, Bangalore)
- Supriya Arasu (Cathedral High School, Bangalore)
- Indira Gupta (Rashtriya Military School, Bangalore)
- Lilly Anthony ((Christel House India, Bangalore)
- Vinoda Harikrishna Rao (Brigade School, Bangalore)
- Shashi Sekar (Deens Academy, Bangalore)
- Syed Ghouse Mohiuddin Peerzade (HSR Naya Madarsa Raichur)
- Deepa M (GLPS Samagodu, Hosanagara Taluk)
- Amritha Ghosh (Cambridge School, Bangalore)
- Deepa Kulkarni (Vidyanikethan Public School, Bangalore)
The award ceremony is scheduled on 27 January 2016, at 3.00 pm.
Venue: Gems B School Auditorium,Near Gems Hostel, Bangalore Main Palace,Near MCC, Vasantnagar, Bangalore.
We are delighted to announce 2016's first School Leaders' Collective for schools in and around Bangalore East. The theme of the collective is Fostering Creativity in Schools - the role of the dramatic arts.
There is a large amount of rhetoric about schools needing to foster life-skills, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication, popularly called the 21st century skills, in their students. And schools attempt to address this additional demand on curricular time by having external specialists and service-providers plug this need as a 'bolt-on'. Unfortunately this only serves as a cosmetic enhancement rather than truly adding value to a child's learning experience. Drama is the one medium that can incorporate all these 21st century skills organically, with demonstrable learning outcomes. Our guest speaker for the day – Jehan Manekshaw makes an emphatic case for authentic ways of integrating drama into the learning fabric of every school and the vital role of the school leader in taking this curricular decision. He will also share the different ways in which schools have successfully incorporated drama into their curriculum.
Jehan has a BA in Theatre Direction from Wesleyan College, USA and a MFA in Theatre Directing from Birbeck College, University of London, UK. He is the founder of the Mumbai-based Theatre Professionals. He has also taught as a guest faculty in Ninasam Theatre Institute, Attakallari Centre for Movement Arts and is a core team member of the Young People's Theatre Programme
We look forward to having you at what promises to be an engrossing and interactive session on 29th January 2016.
Following are the details of the School Leaders' Collective:
Date & Time: 29th January 2016 at 2.30 pm – 5.00pm
Venue: Ecumenical Christian Centre, Opp. Deens Academy, ECC Road, Whitefield
Ph : 080-28452270, 28452653, 28453158, 9449821833
Hand outs, tea/coffee and snacks will be provided ! There is no registration fee.
Do confirm your participation by writing to Nancy/Mahesh at email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org or call 95918 24944/ 9591824945
We are planning to conduct a Panel Interview for the candidates who are selected for the second round. The Panel Interview will be on 6 January 2016.
Here are the names of teachers shortlisted for the second round:
- Usha Shenoy (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- Prathiba D S (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- Manjula A (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- K S Umamaheshwari (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- Mamatha Y V (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- Neema Kappole (Christel House, Bangalore)
- Seema Bagrodia (Deens Academy, Bangalore)
- Deepa Kulkarni (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- Vinutha R Shetty (BGS National Public School, Bangalore)
- Pramod K (Sindhi High School, Bangalore)
- Soniya (Presidency School, Bangalore)
- Sujatha Hemachandra (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- S Meera (St' Paul's English School, Bangalore)
- Deepa M (Govt.Lower Primary School-Samagodu-Shimoga)
- Syed Ghouse Mohinuddin (Peerzade H.R.S Naya Madarsa – Raichur)
- Padma S (Army Public School, Bangalore)
- Ms Geeta Gangal (Army Public School, ASC, Bangalore)
- Sunita Nair (Chrysalis High, Bangalore)
- R S Vasanthi (Cadambi Vidyakendra, Bangalore)
- Uma Venkatraman (Cambridge Public School, Bangalore)
- Sailaja Vittldev (Silver Oaks, Bangalore)
- Malini Krishna (Deccan International School, Bangalore)
- Kiran Somani (Silver Oaks, Bangalore)
- Rachna Kothapalli (Silver Oaks, Bangalore)
- Chaitra HV (Deccan International School, Bangalore)
- Lilly Anthony (Christel House India, Bangalore)
- Sakshi Shekhar (Deens Academy, Bangalore)
- Vinoda Harikrishna (Brigade School, Bangalore)
- Amrutha Ghosh (Cambridge public School, Bangalore)
- Supriya Arasu (Cathedral High School, Bangalore)
- Shanthi S Raman (Deccan International School, Bangalore)
- Priyanka Manocha (Army Public School, Bangalore)
- Indira Gupta (Rashtriya Military School, Bangalore)
- Rohini R (Vidyaniketan Public School, Bangalore)
- J Selvi Gladys (Army Public School, Bangalore)
- Sathi Menon (Christel House, Bangalore)
- Keerti Parnami (Key Kids, Bangalore)
Disadvantaged children in rural India can benefit most from more enlightened, inclusive teaching. This project aims at empowering 125 school teachers in the poorest areas with an intensive, inspiring program. It consists of a 5-day workshop and powerful school-based support sessions using proven methods to enable teachers to bring in the last child into engaged learning. Every teacher impacts on average over 400 children in his/ her career, so the program has potential to impact 50,000 children.
Click here to donate or know more!
The highly popular Whole School Quality Circle Time model developed by Jenny Mosley, is a holistic, highly effective approach to meet the social and emotional learning needs of children and adults in schools. The Teacher Foundation (TTF) is the sole accredited training provider in India for Jenny Mosley Consultancies, UK. TTF has trained several thousand teachers across India on QCT approach.
The training on Whole School Quality Circle Time (QCT) is an approach that is inclusive, positive, caring and assertive so that students and staff experience success in school. Participants will understand the ethos of the Whole School Quality Circle Time Model – to promote positive behaviour and respectful relationships in their schools. It also trains teachers in conducting Circle Time sessions effectively with children. They will both experience a QCT session for themselves and see a live demo of Quality Circle Time with a class of students.
Following are the details of the workshop:
Date: 30 & 31October 2015
Time: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Hotel Green Park - "VAUHINI" Hall
No. 183, N.S.K. Salai, Arcot Road, Vadapalani, Chennai 600026,
Ph: 044-66515151, 044-2375757
Cost of the workshop is Rs 4000 per participant. (The cost is inclusive of training charges, material cost and coffee & a buffet lunch for the participants on both workshop days) + 14 % of service taxes.
Bulk Discount: Schools that register 5 or more teachers for the workshop can avail a discount of Rs. 400 per participant.
All payments need to be made in the form of cheques/drafts favouring TTF Education Services Pvt. Ltd.
For registration or more details, please contact us at email@example.com or
call Nancy : +91 9591824944/ Mahesh: +91 9591824945.
These awards willl be presented on 26th January 2016, at a special ceremony in Bangalore.
With pressures to plan, perform and manage, teachers often attend less to the learnings of individual students. Today, the world is in the midst of extraordinary breakthroughs in scientific work on the mind, process of thinking – learning and the development of competence. Therefore teaching today is a complex endeavor. It makes several, often conflicting demands on the teacher – ever increasing demand for quality, education, sound knowledge of subject matter, methods for assessment modes for differentiated instructions, enthusiasm, a caring attitude, and a love for learning, competence in classroom management. With all these qualities required it is no wonder that it is hard to find good teachers.
And the good teachers we find must be celebrated!!!
TAFIT accordingly aims to recognize and acknowledge great ideas tried by teachers in their classrooms. We are looking out for teachers who demonstrate exceptional subject knowledge, inspiring teaching methodologies, innovative use of technology, assessment and authentic pupil learning.
This year we are requesting for all teachers to send their applications and submission of evidence on CDs or DVDs to encourage teachers to use technology to showcase their professional competence. Do find attached, further details and eligibility criteria for selection.
Please contact Ms Rosama Francis or Ms. Roopa Kishen at 080-41131930 for any further information or clarifications.
Download the Application form and other details in English from here!
Download the Application form and other details in Kannada from here!
valuing the forgotten student majority
A TTF School Leaders' Collective on 21 August 2015
All schools take great pride in the success of their students – be it in board exam results, sports or other inter-school competitions. These are the stars of the school, and rightly so, since they bring glory to the institution! They typically constitute 20-25% of the student population. However there is also another population - the invisible majority that constitute a much larger share of the student population. They are the average students, who don't shine or stand out, either in academics or in activities. They are quiet, reasonably well-behaved, not troublesome at all but not particularly interesting either. Simply put, they are quite forgettable. But like all other students they too have heads and hearts, thoughts and feelings. Their significance also lies in the fact that they form the biggest segment of the students in any school.
This School Leaders' Collective, TTF provides you the opportunity to reflect on your average students. We have invited Suman Ghose, a dynamic individual and trainer to spark the discussion on The Importance of the Average. TTF will also offer some practical strategies for focussing on the average student.
Suman Ghose has studied in IIT Kharagpur (B.Tech) & IIM Bangalore (MBA). He has 23 years' experience in Programme Management, Delivery, Competency Development etc. He has worked with leading companies like Cadbury’s, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Digital, Intel, Philips. He has extensive International experience in Europe, Latin America and South Korea. His passion is teaching & inspiring, creative problem-solving and soft-skill development. He is the founder and CEO of Inroads Leadership Development.
We look forward to having you at what promises to be an engaging session. Here are the details of the School Leaders' Collective:
Date & Time: 21 August 2015 at 2.45 pm (sharp)
Venue: St. Mark's Hotel, St. Mark's Road.
Refreshments will be served. There is no registration fee, but do book your seat/s. For confirmation of participation do write to Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jyoti at email@example.com or call +91 95918 24944
Bringing Talk for Writing to India by Gina Menon
This crisis is multi-layered and complex thereby promising a lot of uncomfortable questions and certainly no easy answers. How do schools cope with their role in the new age economy as technology breaks down the hallowed walls of knowledge? Can schools be the architect of a “culture” that presumes a single set of beliefs and values and remain immune from flux all around them? Who takes responsibility when a young life is lost amidst trying to make sense of what are varied interpretations of acceptable behaviour?
The recent School Leaders' Collective conducted by The Teacher Foundation was an attempt to surface these latent issues through the voices of various stakeholders in the system.
Roshan Menezes, Secretary of Carmel High School, Bangalore placed the school leaders' challenge as one having the unenviable task of bridging the personal and the professional. The need to navigate through different cultural sensibilities inevitably means that the school sets the tone of what is appropriate in public spaces. Acknowledging that the standards of discipline have changed today, he stressed the importance of a code of conduct that was fair, uniform and invested with parental guidance. He also called upon parents to be a part of issues related to behaviour, stating that “they are a part and parcel of school decisions, there should be no blame game.”
This raised the question of whether one should or should not discipline a child. Roshan's take on this was that the school had “to lay down the law and the outcome”. However, this did not mean that teenagers should be shut up, a common folly that adults commit. Rather in today's age of digital connectedness, the contours of risk taking behaviour should be drawn out clearly.
Perhaps his most critical insight was on being empathetic to the trials of adolescence by having open channels of communication. “We need to let go of the misconceptions of the past; the world will be a better place for them and all of us”, were his well aimed parting words.
In India's post colonial era, the school had been vested with the responsibility of graduating young people who could readily conform to the needs of a modernising society and economy. But as Devyani Bagchi, parent of a 13 year old, pointed out, the role of the school today encompasses more than just providing academic skills. “There can no Band Aid solutions, bad behaviour is an expression of something deeper. Schools should give guidance and solutions and get to the root cause.”
Adding that the school, society and parents are not islands, Devyani spoke of their need to be in a “reasonable relationship”. However, she also cautioned parents that they “could not become friends with their children at 13” and had to make the effort to listen to them everyday, giving them “parental presence not presents”. There is nothing that cannot be “talked out”, she added, saying that “children will make mistakes, they need random acts of kindness and we need to accept them the way they are.”
In the 1970's, the reigning Pink Floyd anthem exhorted adults to “Leave 'em kids alone!” Rahul Mansur, a young adult may have agreed with the rock stars. For a questioning teenager exploring the uncharted waters of adulthood, the “unpredictability of life” can “never be timetabled”. (You can read the transcript of Rahul's talk here)
In a searing account of his life at school, Rahul described the terror of having to be perfect, of “carrying an envelope containing a transfer certificate, hostility, fear, shame and rejection.” To the young school goer, respect had to earned, and this could be achieved by changing the way of communuication. “... it can change the way you look at things, what you believe in, it can make you less hungry and it can find you the confidence you never thought you had inside you.
Phrases like “how are you feeling”, “it’s okay, tell me, I won’t judge you”, “don’t worry, we have your back”, “go have fun”, “we love you” were “small phrases; but can make a big difference.” Calling upon school leaders to be “superheroes”, Rahul asked them to reach out to children and “be among us, not above us”.
So the answer may lie in moving out of the clearly defined lines that are drawn in school spaces. Dr. Neena David, Clinical Psychologist suggested that schools are actually very “complicated places” and more so for adolescents who are just embarking on “a fascinating era of growth and development”. Questioning if schools really believed that they were at the cultural crossroads, she pointed out the underlying fear of schools being threatened by things that shifted their “sense of order”. Dealing with this requires a dual understanding of ingrained teacher attitudes and adolescent behaviour.
Teachers need to understand where they are in the development process and be acutely aware that this is a time when teenagers experiment, take risks and are therefore more vulnerable than other people. “Keep a sense of connectedness, teachers must listen without judgement.. this keeps (teens) safe” is Dr. David's expert opinion. Rather than fear becoming obsolete, schools themselves should foster critical inquiry, nurture reflective practice leading to high levels of collegiality and flexibility.
In the end, one may seek solace in the words of the Buddha who said, “Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.” And so it is with schools at the cultural crossroads – to blow with the winds of change than get swept away by forces beyond its control. It just may be that the crossroads are an opportunity for introspection, a journey of change than Hobson's choice.
The Teacher Foundation organized a School Leaders' Collective on 19 February 2015, to discuss "Schools Today at a Cultural Crossroads." We had a parent, a school principal, a psychologist and a former student, along with school leaders from Bangalore and Mumbai, voice their thoughts on what schools can do to deal with the culture shift. We asked Rahul Mansur, a young budding entrepreneur, to give his voice to the millions of students across India! Rahul is the founder of HolidayChai, a holiday startup. Here is his speech to an audience of school principals and heads at Chancery Hotel, Bangalore. You can read Rahul's original post here.
“I’m here you to show you the mirror;
I’m here to make you cringe in your chair;
I’m here to offend you;
To tell you exactly what I feel”
I must confess.
I did not write this speech.
This was written by a 15 year old boy.
A boy who lived through his entire school life in fear.
Always on guard, protecting himself from being caught on the wrong foot.
A boy, who felt humiliated by his school.
A boy, who felt discarded by his school.
A boy, who never returned to his school,
This 15 year old boy’s name is Rahul Mansur.
He is an introvert. Public speaking petrified him. Still does.
He prefers speaking to the mountains, rather than a group of human beings.
Because he came from a school that told him: If you did a speech, it’s got to be perfect.
He was told that looking into a paper while speaking at a public forum was a sign of failure. And he was not given permission to fail.
Today I will read out Rahul’s speech.
Today, I will read from this paper.
Today, I will be the imperfect speaker.
Let me take you into his school: a world where he was supposed to be taken care of, appreciated, encouraged and given the confidence to take on the outside world.
But all he carried with him after graduating: was an envelope containing a transfer certificate, hostility, fear, shame and rejection.
This is his speech.
Respected madam principal,
This is how every speech in my school began.
I often smirked at the respected part.
I would ask myself: Did I respect her?
And why the respect?
Because she is the leader of the school, they said.
I would ask myself again: But how is she a leader?
Is it because the school prospectus call her one?
Is it because some staff member referred to her as one?
Or is it because she is the guiding light that takes children to the shores of success.
Doesn't that last line sound brilliant on marketing brochures?
Now try selling that to a 15 year old who’s listening to Saadda Haq on his iPod.
And he’s just learnt that it’s very cool to disobey authority.
But how can you sell, if the only time you talk to the kid, is either at annual public functions or while you are suspending her?
How can you sell, if you just don’t intend to communicate?
Now when I say communicate, I don’t mean the literal definition.
I am talking about reaching out, creating an environment with your words and influencing a budding life.
I know a lot has changed in the communication department since I left my classroom.
Schools have now become better with their PR and the communication has become more human, more moderate. But I feel it is superficial at best.
Here’s an example: I found this passage on my school’s website.
Now this is a message from the head of the school to the parents of future students including four year old kids.
Now after the hi and hello, there’s a passage about a theory on holistic development and how that is applied in the classrooms. And I quote:
“After a learning episode, the student would have acquired new knowledge, attitudes and skills. In order to achieve this, we have closely linked education in our schools with multiple intelligences, problem solving skills, creative and critical thinking, and technology integration.”
Now as far as I remember, none of this really happened with me.
I mean after a bell rang, I never felt an acquisition of skill and knowledge.
It was usually panic and pandemonium related to the next class.
A common conversation after the bell would be:
“Hey did you do that homework?
“Oh shit man, we’re screwed.”
“I hope the teacher is sick and doesn’t show up”
Not exactly on the lines of holistic development, right?
What’s interesting to note here is the language and the choice of words used in this piece of communication.
It reminds me of my days as a copywriter.
So if we had to sell a 20 Rupee Rice and Dal for 200 rupees, we would package it as
“Steamed white rice, handpicked from the quaint green hills of the Vindhyas, with golden lentils, simmered to delicious perfection."
Just in case you didn’t follow, it is still Dal and Rice.
Now this is what we do as copywriters.
We screw with your minds.
We make you read these fancy words that you really don’t want to understand, and your mind thinks – hey I don’t know what this is about - but it sure sounds good.
And then we trick you into buying it.
Now this letter to the parents, it is probably the work of an over-smart, sleep-deprived copywriter. But someone in the school management said yes – these words represent us – and signed it off.
So what that communicates, to me at least, if I was the parent of a child, and mind you I’m no expert in understanding teaching techniques and the current jargon–
It makes me say “Whoa! These are fancy techniques that this school is using.”
It raises the bar so high, it feels like I’m sending my kid to this structured and controlled environment where she is definitely going to succeed.
But is that what today’s schools want to communicate?
I’d be damned if they did.
Because the funny truth is, life as I know it, in itself is not structured.
It’s not timetabled.
It is unpredictable and very dynamic.
And most importantly: it’s very emotional.
So I search the rest of the letter that was addressed to the parents by the school, and I don’t see a single mention of emotional care.
I mean care and love are one of the most important aspects that groom a child, right?
So why is there no mention of that?
And instead, why such complex language?
Have you ever wondered how your complex thoughts influence the children?
Now imagine if I printed these words of that letter onto a piece of paper and gave it to a four year old and told her – Hey this is what your new school says.
Now a normal kid will probably make a paper plane out of that.
And in the cockpit, she’ll place her dreams.
But the words on that paper are so heavy – that her flight of dreams will never take off.
Is this the weight, the school wants to place on the children’s shoulders, even before they begin to carry their own school bags?
Instead if the schools just wrote –
Hey! Send your kids to us. We’ll take great care of them, we’ll love them, we’ll protect them and groom them into confident and independent human beings.
And then you explain how you will do that with your teaching techniques.
You don’t even need a copywriter for that.
All you need is some honesty and some intention to communicate better.
Communication: I cannot stop stressing on the importance of it in our schools.
The way you communicate, it can change the way you look at things; what you believe in; it can make you less hungry;
And it can find you the confidence you never thought you had inside you.
“How are you feeling”,
“It’s okay, tell me”,
“We won’t judge you”,
“Don’t worry, we have your back”,
“Go have fun”,
“We love you”,
Small phrases; but can make a big difference.
The same difference that exists between a yellow school bus and a white mortuary van.
The same difference that exists between a confident 15 year old speaker and a petrified one.
Speaking of petrified, my mother’s here in the audience.
Last time she was around a principal, she seemed pretty petrified.
I hope you are doing fine now, Ma.
All of them seem like nice people.
So all of us, we ask our kids what they want to be.
Not my mother. She asked me who I want to be.
So as a four year old, I looked around, thought of my favourite person and I said train engine driver.
Why? Because I loved trains. I loved travelling.
Today I sit in Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh. I run Holidaychai: a travel startup that promotes offbeat road trips and treks in the Himalayas.
So today, some part of me has succeeded in living my engine driver dream.
How many such kids do you know who’ve been successful in living their dreams?
Schools often measure success by the placements their kids get.
You know they brag on annual day functions when they receive heavy pay packages from huge corporate companies.
But why don’t these schools talk about how hectic those people’s lives are;
How they wake up every morning to a paltry breakfast;
How they spend four hours on the road every day;
How they don’t know what their kids are doing at school;
How they don’t find time to spend that money they earn;
How most of them are really not happy
And how most of them don’t even talk about it.
Because they are so used to bottling up their emotions and chasing their goals.
Because that’s what they learnt at school.
That’s what you taught them.
So going back to who you want to be and what you want to do.
The answer to: what you want to do in life, will give you a profession.
Who you want to be will give you an identity; a persona, or a choice of lifestyle.
And a profession is just a small part of this identity.
Professions often change: sometimes radically.
An identity doesn’t change. It evolves.
So why are schools stuck up on concentrating on professional achievements?
When they could help the kid with the bigger picture?
And make something great out of herself?
So respected madam principal, as my leader, who’s supposed to guide me to the shores of success, you’ve been putting me on the wrong damn ship all this while!
Adults need leaders.
Kids don’t. You know what kids need?
They need superheroes.
Superheroes – They are ordinary people just like you and me but they do extraordinary things.
They fly, they jump buildings, kill the bad guys and they save the world.
They inspire children to dream.
They inspire them to do great things.
Great things that make the world a better place to live.
And shouldn’t that be the school’s aim in the first place?
So you, heads of the school, I think you need to be your student’s superhero if you want to inspire her.
Doesn’t mean you have to wear a cape to school every day.
You’d be awesome if you would.
But that would probably offend the Spiderman fans.
So not a good idea.
But no. Why would you change a successful formula?
At least something that is commercially successful.
If you ask me, our schools are factories – Where little kids are put in boxes and placed on an assembly line for 14 years where they are drilled systematically, then packaged uniformly and shipped to the next factory.
So, respected leader, can I take my head out of the box and ask you:
What have you been doing with me?
I know a principal’s role goes beyond the school campus.
He or she is responsible for a lot of things that I am not aware of.
I don’t know about the burdens on your shoulder and the worries on your brow.
But what about being my leader?
And still give me a reason why I should respect you.
Let me tell you a story.
I was ten years old.
It was 12:30 in the afternoon. It was our lunch break.
I was walking on the ground, speaking to a couple of my friends.
We shared a joke about how fat a teacher was and how many babies he had inside his paunch. We laughed loudly.
Or if I have to exaggerate, in my school’s words, we were thinking and acting inappropriately that did not display exemplary behaviour and wasn’t on the lines that upheld the reputation of our highly esteemed school.
So that laugh didn’t last for longer than a second.
We simply bottled it.
Because in the balcony of the higher floors of the school building, stood respected-madam-principal. Looking down like a vulture, with eyes that shot fear.
As if she was waiting for her prey.
As if she was waiting for her lunch.
We bottled our laughs.
Because we were simply shit scared of her.
Yes, we were scared of laughing
We were scared of openly being happy.
It sounds like I’ve had a horrid school life.
Truth is, I’ve also had some fantastic times too.
My school made me a stronger person.
And without a bit of sarcasm, I honestly owe whatever little success I’ve had to my school.
But these feelings, they overshadow every pleasant moment I’ve had.
And they form the package of every memory I carry from those grounds.
Now my words may not be theoretically or politically correct.
But I’m not here for correct.
I’m not here to make a point or inspire you.
I’m here to tell you things you already know.
But you choose not to hear.
Because of which, you choose not to change.
I’m here you to show you the mirror;
I’m here to make you cringe in your chairs;
I’m here to offend you;
To tell you exactly what I feel;
What we really feel.
So to answer that question of whether I respected the ‘head of my school’ as a 15 year old: If you want honesty, the answer is no.
Because a leader in my words is an example. Not a title.
And you will not get my respect if you are just a title that demands respect.
Respect needs to be earned.
But all my school and its respected leader earned, was my fear.
So as a principal, or as human being, is that how you people want to be remembered?
Someone who incites fear?
Because one pretty famous guy did that really well. They called him Hitler.
The next time someone addresses you as respected-principal, I hope you feel uncomfortable in your skin.
Ask yourself if that speaker really, honestly, meant it.
And the answer to that question may be uncomfortable.
But you need to open your windows and let the storm come in.
You need to stop staying in a closed room where the truth is tweaked to your comforts.
Accept the reality. And deal with it.
Deal with this real world where teenagers today use the F-word like a punctuation mark, smoke, drink, take drugs, watch porn or indulge in unprotected sex.
Don’t ignore it.
Or don’t think that that this happens in other schools.
Or the kids from your school are morally and culturally more upright and they would never indulge in such “unsavoury behaviour” because the rule book considers it inappropriate and does not allow it.
Right now as we speak.
Somewhere, a 14 year old kid is desperately texting his girlfriend about how much he loves her and cannot live without her;
One of his friends is probably smoking a joint for the first time;
One of them just discovered beer.
This is happening.
So how do we deal with this?
A girl hugs a boy in school. Suspended.
A student uses the word “prostitute” in class. Suspended.
A student is caught smoking off campus. Suspended.
Does the school state rules and tell kids how cigarettes are bad because they damage their lungs? And just suspend to punish them.
And what makes the school think that the students will not smoke during that suspension period?
Where is the teaching in this?
Where is the so called lesson for life in this?
So my suggestion? Reason with them.
Don’t just reprimand them because they didn’t follow the rules.
“To hell with your rules” / “rules are meant to be broken”
That’s the thought process these days.
So how does the school fix this?
Now I would not stop at just telling them that smoking is injurious to health.
They know that and cigarette packs explicitly state that.
So how about taking a road trip.
Right here in the outskirts of Bangalore, there is an organisation called ‘Karunashraya’. It is home to last stage cancer patients who prefer spending their final moments in peace instead of desperate and painful medication.
What your suspended student will learn over an hour’s game of chess with a cancer patient about the ills of smoking: Now that’s something the school will never achieve with even a year’s suspension.
As a head of the school, deal with these issues head on.
Don’t wait for an incident to happen to start talking.
Don’t give us long speeches like I am now. They are boring.
Tell us stories, have discussions.
Invite ex-students for a fun chat with the juniors.
And they don’t have to be a Mark Zuckerberg to qualify for an invite.
Just average, naughty ex-students, who might have just scored 75% in their exams or less.
Invite them to share their version of school;
Let them talk to the kids about how they faced the same problems that today’s children are facing – and how they got over it.
As a head of the school, talk more and talk human.
Children are white canvasses.
Teachers are not just guides. They are artists.
Give deserving teachers the freedom to change, to shake things around.
And give them the room to make Monalisas.
Go to random classes, have random chats.
Ask the kids whether they’re playing enough or not;
Express that you truly care for them
Write open letters to children in a relationship.
Tell them it’s alright, it’s natural,
But explain to them, in their language, why they need to keep it on the backburner.
Be a leader, but not above us.
Don’t just stand in a balcony and play vulture.
Be amongst us,
Be a friend,
Be an inspiration;
Be our superhero.
But does it hurt your ego and title if you are nice to us?
Or do you prefer the mafia style of create fear and rule because it’s efficient and easy.
When I hear schools speak, I feel it’s like you people live in a make-believe world where you actually think you are going to lead the kids into some kind of righteousness that further leads to perfect life excellence.
So for example as a teenager, if you don’t want me to indulge in unsavoury behaviour like, god forgive me, get attracted to a girl, or talk inappropriate stuff like sex and porn, I won’t.
But when exactly am I expected to indulge in such unsuitable behaviour?
Can you imagine what will happen if every kid actually fit into this mould that schools are trying to fit them into?
We’d be machine products that can only churn perfection and excellence; and not know anything about trivial things like human relationships and making kids.
Can you imagine how horrible that would be for you?
No making kids!
How will your schools run without kids?
Who will buy those overpriced uniforms?
Have you thought of that?
But you know that will not happen.
We’re India. We love making kids.
And you will continue to take us for granted, won’t you?
Which makes me wonder, does it make sense to be a parent these days?
Because don’t you think it’s better not to have a child, than to put her in your hands so that she can be judged at every stage of her life; ridiculed in the name of discipline, and go through all that shit.
Simply because you don’t want to adapt and change to the requirements of the real world outside?
I am the 15 year old boy you disappointed.
My name is Rahul Mansur.
And I wish I had had a better school life.
- Rahul Mansur
While most schools take pride in being at the cutting edge of technology and educational practices, adult mindsets are far slower and more resistant to changing norms. So besides the usual generation gap that exists between young students and their older teachers and principals, there is a growing cultural divide that's getting manifested even in our best schools.
Owing to this, schools today are increasingly finding themselves in situations where they are unable to respond appropriately to the needs that are felt by students and /or their parents. Many questions surface – what do parents expect from you when they send their children to school? What do students, especially in their adolescence, want and need from schools? How does a school decide which of these expectations are reasonable and which of them are not?
As a part of our ongoing commitment to enhancing the schooling experience for children across India, we are organizing our first School Leaders' Collective in 2015. It's appropriately titled - Schools Today at a Cultural Crossroads. We are inviting a carefully selected panel of speakers to lead the discussion and shed some light to this contentious issue.
We look forward to having you at what promises to be a powerful session on 19 February 2015.
Following are the details of the School Leaders' Collective:
Date & Time
19 February 2015 at 2.00 -4:30 pm
The Chancery Hotel, “Lavelle Hall”
No.10/6, Lavelle Road,
Next to Reliance Jewels (Mitra Towers),
Bangalore - 560001,
Hand outs, tea/coffee and snacks will be provided!
No Registration fee!
Do confirm your participation by writing to Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call : 95918 24944 / 80955 87430
What measures can schools take to evolve into safer spaces for children? Are the guidelines issued by the government helping schools in this context? Do you have a better idea you would like to share with us?
Mr. Mohammed Mohsin,
I.A.S (Commissioner for Public Instruction)
Ms. Rohini, Katoch Sepat
I.P.S (Deputy Commissioner of Police South-East)
Contact 9591824944/ 9591824945/8095587430. for registration or mail to email@example.com. No Registration Fee.
You can use the following form to send us a request to register your name for the event. Our school relationship team will get in touch with you to confirm your request.
The Teacher Foundation and Times Foundation are happy to announce the winners of Teacher Awards For Innovative Teaching – 2014.
The Award Ceremony will be held on 13 November 2014, 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm at Chanakya Auditorium, Rashtriya Military School, Bangalore. Prof. Ramanathan, IIM Bangalore will be the guest of honour.
Following are the winners of TAFIT 2014:
Kirti – KeyKidz, Bangalore
Soumya Rajkumar - – DPS, North, Bangalore
Kamini Srikanth - Parikrma, Bangalore
Kamalpreet – DPS, South, Bangalore
Jayashree Kulkarni – Poornapragnya, Bangalore
High School Section
Mamatha H.N. - Prasiddhi School, Bangalore
Dr. Rekha Kumar - Christel House India, bangalore
Sridurga Sridhar – Parikrma, Bangalore
Sarala Jain – Carmel High School, Bangalore
Manjula Nagaraj – Sree Jnanakshi, Bangalore
Nagarathna H.S. - School Vivekananda, bangalore
Primary School Section
Beerappa Kate, GHPS, Kondaguli
Parashuram, GHPS, Chinnikatti, Haveri
Hemalatha C. Pujar – GHPKGS, Haveri
High School Section
Sharada S.K. – Army Public School, ASC Centre & College, Kamraj Road, Bangalore
Manjunath Naik - Sainik School, Bijapur
Sahebegouda – GHS, Yadgiri
We congratulate the winners!
Please note that all those who had sent their portfolios for the award will receive participation certificate.
We are planning to conduct a Panel Interview for the candidates who are selected for the second round. The Panel Interview will be on 30 September 2014.
Following are the candidates shortlisted for the Panel Interview:
- Anitha M. Kalibhat - Alpine Public School
- Shyamala Venkataraman - Army Public School
- Sharada S.K. - Army Public School
- Sarala Jain - Carmel High School
- Rekha Kumar - Christel House India
- Rebecca Shanu - Christel House India
- A.Sayeesubbu Lakshmi - Delhi Public School, South
- Kamal Preet - Delhi Public School, South
- Seema Venupgopal - DPS –East
- Radharani Roy - DPS –East
- Sowmya Rajkumar - DPS – Bangalore North
- Shilpa Nagaraj - Gopalan International School
- Kirti Parnami – KEYKIDZ
- Sridurga Sridhar - Parikrma Humanity Foundation- Sahakarnagar
- Kamini Srikanth - Parikrma Humanity Foundation-Sahakarnagar
- Jayashree P. Kulkarni - Poornaprajna Education Centre
- Mamatha H.W - Prasiddhi School
- Bhaswati Mukherjee - Presidency School, Kasturinagar
- Anupama Sharma - Presidency School, Kasturinagar
- Salini P.K. - Rashtriya Military School
- Manjunath Naik - Sainik School , Bijapur
- Shantu G. Dias - School Vivekananda
- Nagarathna H.S. - School Vivekananda
- Jaya J. -Sri Jnanakshi Vidyaniketan
- Manjula Nagaraj - Sri Jnanakshi Vidyaniketan
- Krupa Mary - The New Cambridge High School
- Beerappa Kate - Govt Senior High School, Kondaguli
- Shahebagouda Biradar GHS Yelheri, Yadgiri
- Parashuram B D - GPS Chinnikatti
- S C Pujar - KGS Guttal
We congratulate the shortlisted candidates.
We shall announce the details of the Panel Interview on our blog soon.
Sane Ideas for Safer Schools
A School Leaders' Collective
organised by The Teacher Foundation in collaboration with Times Foundation
These past couple of months, a cacophony of voices and views have been heard in Bangalore city and on national TV Channels about schools being unsafe spaces for students. Steps have also been suggested by the Police and Education Departments, most of which are centred around vigilance against entry of strangers into schools and installation of CCTV cameras in the campus. This of course has huge cost implications for institutions. Schools therefore, have been in a state of confusion about how best to ensure that children are safe from abuse and that atrocities like the rape of a 6-year old girl within a school won't happen again. The School Leaders' Collective organised by The Teacher Foundation in collaboration with Times Foundation on 21st August 2014, provided a platform to share ideas for sustainable steps towards safe schools. Aptly called Sane Ideas for Safer Schools, the Collective had over 120 attendees from a range of schools both from Bangalore as well as other towns in Karnataka.
The objective of the collective was to provide voice to key stakeholders of schools who had practical and thoughtful ideas regarding the safety of schools. The invited speakers included students, a counsellor, a head teacher from the UK, a parent and all the attending heads and teachers.
The 3 hour session began with a welcome address by Maya Menon, Director, The Teacher Foundation. (TTF) She mentioned that while the trigger for the Collective was the criminal incident that took place within a school premises, the problem however is much bigger. It is a symptom of a deeper malaise in all our schools – indifference to children, despite being the reason why schools exist. Educators are largely indifferent to children's views, fears, worries and indeed their safety! She emphasised the need for educators, who know and understand schools, to lead the initiative towards safer schools instead of the police, parents or the public at large. She said, “ We need to regularly reach out and talk, support and draw strength from each other.”
This was followed by a panel discussion by 6 high school students from 3 city schools – Ayushman and Vallari from Army Public School, Maleeha and Hibah from Oasis International School and Parth and Manvi from Sishu Griha. They were invited to give their views on what a safe school means to them. The students' ideas of a safe school included:
- A place where we feel comfortable both physically and emotionally. Such a school understands
- Where there is a strong bond between every student and teacher, where students can talk to
teachers about not only their problems but also their feelings and what makes them happy.
- A school is safe where students are free and they understand that with freedom comes responsibility
- A school is safe where teachers are understanding, affectionate and listen to us.
- Where the school understands children and the connection between teachers and students is close and there is no fear; teachers understand their feelings, problems and hardships
- Where we feel protected, where we trust the teacher and they trust us, where there is open communication
Another question posed to the student panel was “Do you think things have changed in the past few weeks?” The panel's spontaneous responses were :
- There have been drastic changes over the past few weeks, teachers are becoming more stressed and are not able to focus on teaching, it's not fair on teachers!
- There is now a difference between teachers and student relationships... such situations can be taken care of by making sure that the teacher selection procedure is stricter, and there are written norms that are followed.
- Before the schools were more open, we never thought of safety, safety was taken for granted. Now we notice that teachers are more scared of students, students get angry very
easily. It's very difficult for teachers now, the future of our country is getting 'degraded' (sic)!
- Full knowledge of the incident is not given so that teachers and students are able to talk to each other freely. A key aspect here is approachability.
- The guidelines given by the government are silly.
- Sometimes with some teachers students are too free. Both cross borders that they are not supposed to do. Students then lose respect for such teachers. This is evident by the way
they argue with them.
- If you are talking of a student – teacher bond, a teacher being open does not diminish our respect for her. We all have favourite teachers... When we know that that teacher will
support us, that they will back us up, then we feel safe and we are able to share everything with them.
- Every teacher has a different way of handling students. But wouldn't you rather have a teacher who listens and understands you? Being approachable is imperative for a teacher !
- If a teacher is approachable, that teacher gets more respect than a teacher who is unapproachable.
The panel discussion by students helped lend a young person's perspective to the theme. They were spontaneous and articulate in expressing their views. The key points emerging from their session was a concern over not just physical safety of schools, but also emotional safety. They also highlighted the role of the teacher, who by being approachable and pleasant contributes to making a safe school environment.
This was followed by a lucid talk by the experienced Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Neena David. She spoke about the “need for understanding the multi-dimensional aspect of safety.” As an
aside, she wondered “How many people would have turned up (at the collective) if the situation did not warrant legal requirements?” She narrated an incident at a school where was conducting a workshop on safety with 6 and 7 graders. “I asked them: “How many of you feel safe in school “ – Nearly all said 'yes'. Then I asked “How many are bullied or disrespected regularly in school? Nearly 80% of hands went up. So,in reflection, the sense I got was that safety is being understood as only absence of physical danger. Statistics say that abuse happens from within, little more than half of all perpetrators are persons known to the victim.“
Dr. David urged the participants to consider “What is unsafe about schools?”. She said for children, being unsafe would be getting into fights, high levels of bullying orsarcasm. She went on to cite neuroscience and that children's perception of threat is very different from an adult's and that when children are constantly under perceived threat, one could be setting the stage for a life time of dysfunction. The body releases high levels of cortisone, which could damage the brain and impede learning. When children feel unsafe and not 'in control' they experience a sense of hopelessness, which could affect immunity, memory and the learning process. It could
also result in external manifestations such as vandalising or aggressive behaviour, eating disorders, low participation. She emphasised that learning does not happen in a vacuum and
safety in schools is not about CCTV cameras, vigilance officers and control. Safety is determined by the conditions that allow students to feel safe, to learn and thrive. To meet the criteria of safe schools recognition, positive school climate and culture are big requisites. Safe schools are those that celebrate being positive, treating staff and students alike with respect and sensitivity. Dr. David reiterated that respect and regard need to be built into the curriculum, so that all children are given opportunities to develop socially and emotionally. Clear boundaries and responses on behaviour, clear response plans and procedures need to be laid out for both staff and students .
The next speaker was Gina Menon, Deputy Headteacher of Raynham Primary School, London who shared practices and policies that are prevalent in UK schools to ensure pupil safety.
Gina listed out the following prerequisites for safe schools in the UK :
- A calm and respectful environment, for children to learn - The implications here are for teachers and school managements to ensure clean, orderly, cheerful and conducive environments for children to learn in. There also need to be on-going precautionary daily measures not only in case of crisis. All teaching staff members as well as anyone given the care of children are duly vetted through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to ascertain that they are suitable for working with young children and that they have no criminal history especially in case of paedophiles.
- Speedy and appropriate response to Child abuse : Child abuse could be physical or emotional and must be reported immediately. The child in question has to be cared for, specially if any medical attention is needed. It is the legal responsibility of teachers to report any concerns in and out school to the designated Child Protection Officer in the school. The Pastoral Care Officer ensures that children know who they are and that they can be approached if there's anything that bothers or upsets them, whether silly or serious. Children are also encouraged to speak to the class teacher, to their parent, or another child. Gina revealed that sometimes pupils go up to teachers saying that their friend has big problem and teachers are trained to always listen to them.
- Restricted entry to visitors. Any one visiting the school is given a badge that states who they are and what their purpose is in visiting the school.
- Rigorous and regular training of Teaching and non teaching Staff -Teachers are trained in children protection at start of their employment. Subsequently every two years a half day refresher course is conducted on child safety in schools. These trainings ensure that all teachers and staff are aware of safety procedures.
- Detailed reference checks of new teachers – to confirm that they are dependable enough to be working with children. One question that is asked is “Will you employ this person again?”. The answer needs to be just a yes or no.
- Precautions to be taken by staff - All staff are alert to sudden changes in behaviour of children and they are required to fill a form to state their concerns. Staff are advised never to be alone with a student with the door shut. Teachers do not touch or hit children. No kind of familiar touch is acceptable and staff are required to be vigilant, when children change clothes for Physical Education but they may not look at them. Teachers are alert for any evidence of self harm by children, changes in behaviour, use of inappropriate or demonstration of anger or crying.
- Respecting a pupil's word – If children make an allegation against a teacher – teachers are required to stay away from school till the local educational authority investigates the issue and clears the teacher's name.
- Special programmes for Pupils – to sensitise them to domestic violence, cyber-bullying, handling of stress using theatre workshops
Gina emphasised that during a crisis, everyone in the school should be aware of their respective role . Ultimately, it is the moral obligation of the School Head and the senior leadership team to
effectively manage alleviate the situation.
Gina's valuable and insightful session was followed by Mr. Bala, who spoke as a parent of two school-goers. He stated that the issue of children's safety is the equal responsibility of parents and teachers. He remarked that schools today tend to outsource many of their routine curricular and co-curricular activities to external people and agencies and that could make the school vulnerable in terms of its overall safety. Schools must have an open door policy to enable free expression of views. Schools and the home need to inculcate in safety habits especially with regard to substance abuse, online abuse and the various forms of abuse that they may be susceptible to.
The collated responses of the groups that brainstormed on each aspect are given below:
Steps a school needs to take to be safe:
- Establish a Student Council to discuss everything that concerns students' well-being and learning
- Establish a clear set of rules and guidelines with inputs from the student council and parents.
- This needs to be disseminated to the wider school community to ensure awareness.
- Have a Child Protection Committee in school – with clear charter of roles and responsibilities – involving both female and male staff members.
- Do a thorough background check of every adult before hiring – both teaching and nonteaching staff.
- Train teachers in do's and don'ts with regard to interacting with students and measures to be taken by the school to ensure child safety. They need to be sensitised and receptive towards children. They also need to know how to respond in a crisis.
- Acquaint and sensitise children to what's sexual abuse - what's a 'good touch' and what's a 'bad touch'. Children need to know whom to approach if they are upset or sad. This can be done by putting up the name of the person they could reach out to along with the designated timings and contact telephone number/s.
- Have open discussions with students on a scheduled and regular basis. Teachers need to create space and time to listen to each child with empathy.
- Use a variety of modes to inculcate life skills and moral values – cinema, theatre etc
- Have ID cards for every one in the school – children and adults
- Have CCTV cameras in closed spaces and large open spaces – however everyone needs to be alert. As one Principal put it “ our eyes need to be our cameras”.
- Have periodic parent teacher interactions to check children's well-being and growth as learners.
Steps a school needs to take to be seen to be safe:
- Install Suggestion/ Complaint boxes in schools – and genuinely address the concerns and complaints regularly – either weekly or monthly
- The existence of the Student Council demonstrates the empowered role that students can take to contribute to overall school well-being. However the Student Council must regularly meet and discuss student concerns and take action which is within their purview and ask for help from teachers and school management for aspects that need adult intervention.
- Have regular Parent-Teacher Meetings to gather parental concerns or queries regarding any aspect of the school.
- Be proactive whenever there's a complaint or concern shared by parents or teachers or students, with the help of the Student Council and Child Protection Committee.
Steps a school needs to take when in a crisis :
- Set up a Crisis Committee (which is separate from the Child Protection Committee) who know how to handle issues that get 'blown up'. Clear steps need to be taken such as - assess and comprehend the situation and try to ascertain all the facts and allegations without getting defensive; inform concerned people – including the police (if necessary), lawyer, parents, whole staff, students regarding course of action.
- Appoint a Public Relations Officer / School Relations Coordinator who will work in tandem with the Crisis Committee to honestly, calmly and transparently communicate to the public, including parents and media. It's vital that no attempt is made to cover up the truth.
- Mete out consequences to the guilty in a prompt and rational manner after consultation with a lawyer.
- Scrupulously protect the identity of the ' victim'. Listen to him/her and arrive at a solution after consultation with the management. Attend to her/his emotional and physical needs immediately.
- Have team immediately set up to manage the crisis and have a therapeutic team of trained professionals to offer counselling sessions – one-on-one or in a group to students and other relevant stakeholders
- Be non-judgemental and respectful, especially when the parent or the child is from a lower socio-economic strata.
- The integrity of the school and its Management must not be undermined or compromised in any communication or interaction.
Once these eminently sane ideas for safer schools were shared with the whole group, The Teacher Foundation presented the Safe and Sensitive Schools (SASS) idea using Jenny Mosley's Whole School
Ecosystemic Model of Quality Circle Time. TTF's SASS Project encapsulates all of the above points and trains and supports schools to become more safe and caring by setting up listening systems and clear behaviour policies for all – staff and students.
Whole School Ecosystemic Model(WSE) provides the essential framework for support, clear expectations, and guidance and establishes a sound base for fostering healthy and happy student development. The core idea of the WSE model is its 3 listening systems – Quality Circle Time, Think Books and Bubble Time. A safe school is one that listens to its people – teachers listening to students, students listening to each other and head listening to the teachers. Quality Circle Time or the group listening system promotes a collaborative atmosphere which encourages the children to experience doing things together and accept others as they are. The circle format is critical, as it has always been a symbol of unity, healing and power. The circle is also a non-hierarchical structure promoting active group-work, cooperation, where in each participant has an equal opportunity to participate. The circle is deeply embedded in the history of mankind because of its problem solving, goal achieving potential (Mosley, 1999).
Besides Circle Time, Bubble Time (one-on-one listening) and Think Books (non-verbal listening) provide a nurturing umbrella for learning within the school. These listening systems are held in place by the 'Golden Rules' that forms the backbone of the WSE model. These rules are the moral values of gentleness, kindness, honesty, respect for each other and for property and work ethic – all necessary ingredients for a safe and sensitive school.
The vote of thanks was given by Shweta Harshwal of Times Foundation who maintained that the work needs to continue beyond the day's discussion. “We have to be more proactive and less reactive”.
TAFIT is back again! The Teacher Foundation and Times Foundation are happy to announce the Teacher Awards For Innovative Teaching – 2014. These awards will be presented on 5 October, International Teachers Day 2014 at a special ceremony in Bangalore.
Teaching today, more than ever before, is a complex endeavour. It makes several, often conflicting demands on the teacher – sound knowledge of subject matter; enthusiasm, a caring attitude, and a love of learning; a competence in classroom management techniques, formative assessment, differentiated instruction, and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. With all these qualities required, it's no wonder that it's hard to find good teachers. And the good teachers we find must be celebrated!
A great teacher motivates his or her pupils to learn better using innovative strategies. TAFIT accordingly aims to recognize and acknowledge these great ideas tried by teachers in their classrooms. We are looking out for teachers who demonstrate exceptional subject knowledge, inspiring teaching methodologies, innovative use of technology, assessment and authentic pupil learning.
We invite you to nominate a maximum of two teachers from your school for TAFIT.
Scope of the Award
TAFIT has been instituted to recognize high quality and innovative teaching in schools. The award aims to honour teachers who inspire students to learn.
- TAFIT is open to serving / practising school teachers in the state of Karnataka.
- The nominee should be currently teaching at the pre-primary, primary or secondary level (up to Class 10 only)
Number of Awards: 36 (as detailed below)
|Category of School||Teaching Level||Subjects||Number of Awards|
|Up to Class 10|| |
Nomination and Submission of Entries
# Mailing Address
Nominations must be submitted in the given proforma (You can download the performa from here) either in hard copy or by email to:
The Teacher Foundation
34/10, Yellappa Chetty Layout,
Off Ulsoor Road, Bangalore 560042
(Please mention TAFIT 2014 in the subject line)
# Submit a Mini-Portfolio
- Nominees are required to submit a mini-portfolio showcasing three innovative ideas in teaching, learning or assessment. Ideas must be described in about 300 words and accompanied by at least three samples of evidence of the idea having been implemented in class – in the form of photographs, video clips, student feedback, school head's or peer feedback and a self-reflection on what makes the idea innovative for you.
- The mini-portfolio may be submitted as a hard or a soft copy using a CD, pen drive or via Drop Box.
- If being sent electronically, the mini-portfolio must be clearly labelled with the details of the nominee.
- The Teacher Foundation will not be responsible for lost entries. Incomplete entries will be automatically disqualified.
Shortlisting and Panel Interview
- Shortlisted candidates will be intimated and will be required to attend a panel interview at Bangalore. (Travel and accommodation arrangements must be made by the respective
schools/teachers. We regret there will be no reimbursement for travel and accommodation expenses.)
- Last date for submission of nomination forms and mini-portfolio: 15 September 2014
- Intimation to shortlisted candidates for Panel Interview: 25 September 2014
- Award Ceremony: 5 October 2014
TAFIT is an annual award, constituting a Certificate of Excellence. The award ceremony will be held at Bangalore. Winners will be required to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements.
Terms and Conditions
- Only one entry per person will be accepted.
- Nominated teachers can apply only under one level and subject category.
- Proof of posting or emailing cannot be accepted as proof of delivery of the portfolio
- The Teacher Foundation shall not be held liable for loss of any entry, for any reason whatsoever.
- Only shortlisted candidates will be intimated with details for the panel interview
- All matters relating to TAFIT will be managed by The Teacher Foundation including the shortlisting of candidates and the panel interview.
- The decision of the judges will be final.
Please contact Ms. Anita David or Ms. Roopa Kishen at 080-41131930 for any further information or clarifications.
“QCT workshop can be used for children, as well as adults. It is life's learning”, said a teacher participant after the two day workshop on Whole School Quality Circle Time organized by The Teacher Foundation as a part of the School Improvement Project for government schools in Raigad, Maharashtra. The School Improvement Project in Raigad is supported by Swades Foundation, Mumbai across a two-year time frame. The Teacher Foundation will work with 131 Heads of schools and 409 teachers during the course of the project. The project aims to empower teachers and build their capacity to make learning a meaningful and enjoyable experience for children.
As a part of the project TTF had reached out to 286 teachers and heads in Raigad from 23 October 2014 to 26 October 2014, training them in QCT, to help them to understand the ethos of the Whole School Quality Circle Time Model to promote positive behaviour and respectful relationships in their schools. Raigad is one of the largest districts on the Konkan coast of Maharashtra, India. The closest cities are Mumbai and Pune, approximately four hours away, by road. It has rural economy which mainly depends on agriculture, fishing and poultry. The terrain is mostly hilly with small schools located on different hillocks. Children walk up long distances to their schools or hitch rides if there are buses or rickshaws operating on their routes. In the majority of schools, children take the responsibility of cleaning the school every morning, arranging furniture, closing the school etc. The sense of community is very strong amongst teachers and students. Majority of teachers also own farmlands and perform other roles in the village community. Also, everyone knows everyone in a village. Hence, in many ways, Raigad serves as a unique environment for Jenny Mosley's QCT.
The group dynamics are unique in Raigad. Majority of teachers are male, as is common in the government sector in India. One can easily notice insensitivity or rather, a conditioned response on the part of men to not wait for a woman to respond or offer her views or finish what she is saying. A lot of it can be ascribed to the culture in India and in these areas in particular. The QCT training is a very powerful tool to challenge such norms. One of the most moving moments on the second day of a training has been when an Urdu medium teacher tapped the desk and said “I have a point” (in Hindi) in a polite manner when her male colleagues didn't notice her raising hand.
Some of the other reflections that teachers shared were the effects of labelling in an environment like theirs. Since villages are often close – knit communities, labels don't stay restricted to the school's compound walls. They tend to follow the child into the community. Right from their peers in school to adults in the neighbourhood, everyone starts attaching these labels to them. A teacher shared his own experience of labelling a girl 'slow' as a child and how that stayed with her till she left the school, although she wasn't really 'slow'. He felt the urge to tell her parents and neighbours to stop calling her so just because a teacher like him said so in a fit of rage. Teachers also identified QCT to be a wonderful platform for students to share and care because, even in villages, many children are now growing up in nuclear families. QCT can help in making them open to connect with other children, share their problems, offer help and show appreciation.
Teachers are not only thoughtful and reflective, but also critical in examining various concepts. Some of the teachers actually read about concepts like Emotional Intelligence and shared how they felt QCT could help in making children emotionally more aware and expressive. They ask questions such as QCT being a UK based concept, might have been built considering the kids over there. Hence, how much does it work with children from India and other parts of the world? Is your work backed by any research ? The Teacher Foundation can very well answer these queries since it has been witness to the success of QCT for so many years in so many different schools across sectors and economic strata. Moreover, as TTF is also doing research in the area of Social and Emotional Learning our belief in QCT and the Whole School Ecosystemic Model is further strengthened.
At the end of the training, teachers express feeling more empowered. They confess of never having thought so much about themselves – their thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, values, self-esteem etc. Following are some of the testimonials from the teachers trained Whole School Quality Circle Time in Raigad:
"In 22 years of my teaching career, I have never felt as important as a teacher and a person, as I felt during these 2 days"
"Many trainings happen. Very few stay with us. This definitely will because it has touched our heart"
"So many trainers come. They go on speaking and we are at the receiving end. This is the first time when a training has made us think, reflect and come up with answers to our questions. You spoke less, but made us think more"
“It was person - centered training and that is why everybody involved and participated in activities”.
“To bring about a change, you need people who can be good guides. Country can progress when this change occurs. There is a lot to learn from this workshop which can bring about a change.”
Posted by Monila Sapre, Project Coordinator, School Wellbeing
In these past 2 weeks we have heard a cacophony of voices and views about schools becoming 'dangerous' spaces for students. While the alleged criminal actions on the part of a couple of staff of a city school were completely preventable, it's vital not to succumb to the prevailing atmosphere of rhetoric, ranting and blaming. School managements and principals in all our schools need to take serious stock and be proactive about taking measures to make schools safer for our students.
Several members of the public, including the Police and parent community are suggesting a lot of steps, albeit with good intentions. But how viable are these steps? Will they prevent similar atrocities against students? Moreover these measures could either push teachers into passive acceptance or into a constant state of anxiety and apprehension.
These are all unhealthy for the overall well-being of an institution. As part of its enduring commitment to Safe and Sensitive Schools, The Teacher Foundation in collaboration with Times Foundation is organising A School Leaders' Collective to offer Sane Ideas for Safer Schools. This will be on 21st August 2014 at 2:30 pm. (for 2 and a half hours)
Hand outs, tea/coffee and snacks will be provided !
No registration fee.
No.30 b-1, Opposite To SBI Bank & Next To White House,
St Marks Road,
Bangalore – 560001
Do confirm your attendance at earliest to 9591824944/9591824945/8095587430/8095587431.
Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
My warmest appreciation for the committed team members who have shared the dream and stayed the course. TTF has the potential to make long-lasting impact, inspired by, not large endowments, but by the power of one idea – enabling and inspiring every teacher !
As the principal of a leading city school mentioned in an e-mail to me "Here's wishing you a year of lighting up lives of many more teachers!" That's a testimonial to cherish and I thank hundreds of schools and principals who have placed their valuable trust in our professional judgement.
The Teacher Foundation
As the new year unfolds, it is that time of the year again for TTF's Annual Seminar!
In all our interactions with school managements and principals, in the recent past, one recurring and real concern they have shared with us is the loss or fear of loss of their most vital of resources – the teachers, especially teachers they have invested in or have groomed for greater responsibilities. The 'brain drain' that most schools fear, either in reality or in perception, often halts or negates any concerted change initiative, especially for improving teaching-learning processes. Schools therefore prefer to focus on more permanent fixtures like infrastructure and technology enhancements rather than teacher development.
Vice Admiral (retd.) B Kannan, is someone who understands this dilemma very well albeit in the context of the Indian Navy, where the retirement of highly qualified and talented officers could leave the Armed Forces severely handicapped if it were not for sound Knowledge Management Systems.This actually has far-reaching implications for schools too. Much of the unique style, content and classroom repertoire often remains embedded in teachers' minds as “tacit knowledge”, and may not have been transferred and embedded in the “organisational knowledge” of the institution. In such a case, the exit of the particular teacher leaves a vacuum, which puts pressure on the organisation to juggle a demanding academic calendar.
How should schools cope with such situations when their organisational knowledge is significantly bereft of the expertise and experience of some teachers? What measures should they regularly take for building up the organisational knowledge? How do the institutions ensure that these measures do not further burden the teachers? How can the teaching methods be refined with the help of organisational knowledge? The answers to these questions emerge from a tailor-made Knowledge Management System (KMS) for the institution, which allows tacit knowledge of teachers to flow to organisational knowledge with minimum effort.
Vice Admiral Kannan is a highly decorated officer, of the Indian Navy. He has been honoured by the President of India with the Vishishta Seva Medal, Athivishishta Seva Medal and the Param Visihishta Seva Medal for exemplary service. He is a graduate in Electronic Engineering from College Of Trivandrum, Kerala and an M. Tech from IIT Bombay. He also has a Masters in Administrative Management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. He was instrumental in setting up KMS systems in Naval training centres, Dockyards and Project organisations. He retired recently as the ‘Chief of Material’, the top-post for technical officers in the Indian Navy. Presently he is a research fellow with Anna University.
We look forward to having you at what promises to be an illuminating seminar on 13 February 2014 (from 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm) at St. Mark's Hotel, 4/1, St. Mark's Road, Bangalore - 560001.
For more details and to register your name for the event, please contact:
Aditi Choudhary + 91 80955 87430
Ajay Kumar +91 80955 87431
You can also register for the event by mailing us at email@example.com