Are there qualities we could imbibe and make teaching-learning meaningful?
A student once asked me, ‘What inspired you to become a teacher?’ From my perspective, every woman has inbuilt qualities of a teacher that includes love, compassion, passion, dedication, sense of duty, responsibility and the list is limitless. As the saying goes, a mother is the first teacher of the child. And, in my life, the process of teaching-learning enhanced when I became a mother (of two children). Yes, all mothers are considered good teachers, but I also realized that there are certain skills essential to teaching and need to be learned too. I learned these as I began my journey at Ekya and with my little ones at Montessori and Kindergarten.
I wanted to explore my horizon as a teacher, and my career kick-started as a Montessori adult at Ekya Schools. The number of professional development sessions, orientations, and other programs organized for teachers at Ekya helped me boost my confidence and grow personally and professionally. Understanding the Montessori approach and methodology helped me gain skills and knowledge to facilitate students’ learning and development, but true learning to me came with an intense experience of working with children. Inspiration is a big word I say, the true love and admiration I received from the children from my journey as a Montessori Facilitator to a Coordinator have indeed helped me gain a great learning experience.
I began to ponder over a few questions like; what do we need to expect from children or what do we want our children to learn? This made me think further and I was able to realize that we want our children to learn basic qualities such as honesty, integrity, compassion, respect, and love for all. Actually, all children are born with these great qualities and all that we have to do is to nurture and strengthen them day by day. Children give true love and admiration to teachers and these are not deliberately taught to them! These come naturally to them.
At Ekya, the curriculum is designed with an emphasis on our children not just learning concepts or skills of varied subjects but developing an enduring understanding of them and applying them in the practical world. The exposure students receive with the “Quest” – an inquiry-based and experiential learning program helps them develop the confidence to express themselves.
Besides academics, there is an emphasis on personal development too. Every child is unique, and how to nurture each child with self- discipline is what I learnt at Ekya by adopting “Social Contract”. This approach to self-management is built on an agreement between the class teacher and students who together decide an appropriate set of consequences and rewards and take the responsibility of abiding by norms they have set for themselves.
Times have changed and so has education. Earlier, one would never consider the education of 3 to 6 years olds seriously. Parents would send these little ones to school only to play and socialize, sing some rhymes, learn ABC, and numbers 1 to 10. Today, we see a great transition, and the kids have proved themselves in participating in varied experiences in these initial years that are crucial for their growth and development – physical, mental, and emotional.
To cite an example, during this time of pandemic when the whole world went topsy turvy and the education system too got a huge setback- As the saying goes, learning never stops at Ekya, and the immense training paid off. Teachers took over online sessions with grace and the little ones adapted to these easily by learning how to handle the computer system or following norms during virtual classes. They demonstrated and proved that they belong to the futuristic approach to schooling. Their energies keep the teachers rocking and moving ahead strongly in facing various difficulties and contribute to building a safe society.
Children have taught me immensely. I feel I have learned many things by observing them learn and adapt to various situations so naturally.
I have learned how to make learning experiences purposeful, relatable, and enjoyable. In technology, I have learned the use of a variety of teaching tools and strategies to cater to different learners. I have learned to be more organized in creating a positive class environment and a strong culture; in planning and executing lesson plans and expecting learning outcomes continuously. I have learned how students are reaping the benefits of academics as well as outdoor activities in the sandpit and play area. I have learned how they are developing attitudes of sharing and care towards their environment and peers. I have also realized how sharing and caring, showing empathy, knowledge, and resources with each other is a valuable thing to do. Last, but not least, I have learned how students take part in competitions with a spirit to participate rather than winning.
I am glad to be a part of this prestigious institution which has helped me grow professionally. From just being a mother, now I feel I have widened my horizon, raised my aspirations, and above all being able to touch the lives of many children (beyond my two at home). I cherish this transition from a homemaker to a professional and continue to be open to learning valuable lessons of life from children and the environment around.
I feel immensely proud and blessed as I watch my children growing up imbibing these nurturing qualities, my students growing effortlessly and valuing my teachings, and also my pre-primary team which welcomed me as a Coordinator and allowed me to be part of them, to mentor them and to nurture the little ones along with them. My journey from a Mother to a passionate Teacher and now a Coordinator in facilitating quality and meaningful education to all children continues.
Vijaya Lakshmi A
Pre Primary Coordinator