Ma’am tell us about your journey in education; from being a teacher to a principal of one of the most renowned schools of Gujarat!
(chuckles) First of all, let me tell you getting in the field of education was an accident for me. Actually, I had gone to a school to get the form for my neighbour’s child. That day, in 1988, counsel (had) instituted computer science for the first time.
So, while I was filling the form and the principal, Mr.Mishra asked me if I was filling up for my own child. I explained to him it was (doing it) for my neighbour’ kid. The conversation just began from there. He asked me for my qualifications and I said, I am a computer programmer (and) I was working for a corporate. He asked me if I was willing to teach the computer course.
I was very hesitant as I had never taught before, but he insisted that I come for a part-time job. And, guess what! I ended up taking it. The first class I taught was class 12th. After that, there was no looking back. I didn’t want to go back to corporate. It was very satisfying teaching students. I was one of the oldest computer teachers from the first batch since 1988.
Oh! So from corporate to teaching… That’s fascinating.
Yeah! I was working in data processing centre as a computer programmer and moved to teach computer programming.
How did your teaching journey shape in these three decades?
Probably my subject was very different, so I could experiment in my teaching method. I never had a conservative approach towards teaching because I always had the machine to back me.
For instance, if I was telling them (the students) something, the facts could be shown to them with the help of a computer. In computer programming, there is nothing right or wrong. The students had a different method/approach to solve a particular problem and I was quite open to it.
Right from the beginning, my approach has been analysed with the children. I have evolved with the syllabus and have learnt a lot from my students in this journey. I would always say ‘teaching and learning are for life not for a day or year!’
Wow! If I am to sum it up, you have been one of those teachers who has used data or machine learning to impart learning in the classroom
Very true! I think this can be done with each and every subject. You need to understand the thought and change the strategy. It’s not always my way is right.
As a principal, how do you weave this experience in enriching your school performance?
As the head of the institution, I am promoting the use of technology in whichever way it is possible. In fact, we are the only school who does online processing for our admission process. There is no paperwork involved. We are completely computerized – be it report card (or) paper setting. We also take the assessment test – ASSET for Social Science, English, Math and Science.
How do you use this assessment test?
one is it compares the growth of a particular class – compared to last year versus what it is this year.
It gives you a comparison on a national level – what’s the national average and where do you fall.
It can be used as remedial for teachers depending on various skills the learners need to learn. It gives you clarity on where the child excels and where he lacks. So teachers can use it as remedial to improve the learning experience of students.
Your school has 14 skill-based clubs. What are these clubs and why you have it?
To name a few these clubs are Photography, Cooking, Designing and lot more. These clubs promote team spirit. What I really feel is textbooks may give you knowledge but will not always make you ethically or morally wise. In case you have to live a holistic life both your mental and spiritual education has to be complete. So academically, physically and spiritually we wanted to integrate all this together. Precisely why we have these clubs.
So, what’s the difference you see in education? When you first taught, and now when you go to the class. How has teaching evolved?
Technology has come in. In our times, it was chalk-and-talk. Now you have so many tools are at the disposal for teaching. Though I firmly believe this tools cannot replace a teacher and I advocate to use it. No teacher should be running away from it. It’s on us to make our student so competent that even thousands of machines cannot replace them.
We say hundred people can be replaced by one machine, but we can always create one extraordinary person that cannot be replaced by thousand machines. Teachers are now playing a multifold role. Usually, parents are working and student spends most of her time in school. So a teacher has to take up the role of a guide, counsellor, observer, friend as and when needed. In a competitive era, the teacher has to be there for the students.
So much onus on the teacher! On that note, Alka Murthy as principal or Teacher?
(Smiles) Always a teacher! I enjoy being a principal, but the connection that a teacher can have with her student in the classroom is tough for the principal to have with. It is more satisfying to have that connection with teachers.
She brings along her experience in extensive research and branding. A passionate writer by day and an avid reader by night she packages for a blend of technical and creative write-ups.
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