Growth of Institutions Through Teacher Excellence

Growth of Institutions Through Teacher Excellence


HAMSA VENUGOPAL
Managing Director, New Baldwin
International School, Bengaluru.

Hamsa Venugopal is the Managing Director of New Baldwin International School, Bengaluru. She has an MBA from University of Cambridge, London and, has 6 years of experience as a Research Analyst on Content Development for Kindergarten and Junior School. Her areas of expertise include teacher training, faculty development, management and Human Resources. Hamsa is the recipient of the 'Entrepreneur of the Year 2019' award for Women Education, by Academy of Universal Global Peace (USA).


Who or what motivated you to get into the ­eld of teaching?
 
The seed was sown very early in my life as I have parents who are great teachers. My parents are educationists and, growing in that environment with the two-great people in my life, I wanted to follow their footsteps. I had decided very early that I would dedicate myself to be with students and make a difference in their lives. I want to give back to the community which has given me so much.
 
As one of the key members in the leadership team of your school, what are some of the major challenges faced by you?
 
The major challenges faced by me is to encourage teachers not to resist innovation and make them technology friendly. Another challenge is to educate the parents to allow their children enjoy activity-based education in the primary and middle school level. The child should make his/her school life memorable.
In the current education scenario where artifi­cial intelligence is taking over classrooms, what is the role of a teacher?
We are in India, the second highest populated country in the world. The idea of giving quality education to all is the greatest challenge. I am for Artifi­cial Intelligence. It will be a great way to assist teachers. Teachers have to handle many responsibilities like evaluation, grading, setting of question papers, creating mark sheets and tracking the performance of every student. If anyone can minimise the above mentioned work, the teachers can concentrate on teaching, quality course development and skill development.
How important are teacher training programmes, in the betterment of teachers’ proficiencies?
Teacher training programmes are important factors to reach educational excellence. I am very convinced that the best way to take my institution to the next level is to provide excellent teachers’ training programme. I am committed to doing this. Every year and many times during the year, we provide opportunities for training our teachers.
As professional development for teachers is important, it is become a necessity. These programmes have helped our teachers to become better in knowledge, teaching skills and innovation, that the learning curve of the students have become better.
Professional development programmes have helped our admin teams to become better and ef­ficient administrators.
As I travel extensionally to study the education systems across the length and breadth of the globe, I impart the ‘new’ learn with my staff. I also collaborate with the right-thinking people in order to help our teachers become more skilled. So academic and non-academic trainings happen throughout the year.
How can schools help children to prepare for the future?
We are at a time in history that rote learning and learning by repetition is not the order of the day. Today, information is available at our fi­ngertips - from media, school, parents, etc. The students need to develop critical thinking to analyse and evaluate what they see, hear, read, etc. This will equip them to face the future after their school life. Critical thinking also is thinking independently. It will help our students to make the right choices and decisions.
To enhance critical thinking in students, the teachers are asked to prepare lesson plans that enables the teachers into critical thinking, projects given and discussions that happens in the classrooms are tremendous ways to leading our students into critical thinking. These projects and lessons teach students how to agree and disagree respectively helping many students to come up with varied conclusions without being threatened to know if they are wrong or right for that matter. We have adapted certain methods to teach our students to be able critical thinkers.
  1. We place questions on the notice boards
  2. We keep a response box
  3. Based on the responses received, the teacher divides the class into ‘for and against’ groups and moderates the discussion thereafter. The points are put on the board.
  4. Questions are asked - why, where, how
This method has been very fruitful in our institution.
What is the role of a school leader in bringing the stakeholders together?
The school leaders play an important role in bringing the stake holders together. The school is one huge organisation comprising of students, parents, the local community, the administrators, management and even local leaders. The school leader should strive towards building strong relationships with the teachers, students, parents and the management. The leaders can use their perception, knowledge and fortitude to help and motivate students to develop skills and equip them to face the future. When we have such leaders, then they are de­finitely bringing the stake holders together.
What are some ways in which a school can encourage teachers to give their fullest?
As a leader, I am committed to bringing out the best in my teachers. Periodical training programmes and other opportunities are provided to equip them to bring out the best in them. Encouraging, providing and appreciating them for their contribution goes a long way.
Giving them small rewards and acknowledging them for their contribution also helps. Above all, I like to be available for my teachers always.
How important is value education today in schools?
With the current decline in the moral values across the world, homes and classrooms are the only places our children can learn morals from. So, value education is very important. It should become the integral part of our curriculum. It should not be taught as a subject but should be incorporated into all subjects and all lessons.
Value education classes help in building a strong bond between the teacher and the student. ‘Values are virtues that cannot be taught but caught’.
Your message for teachers and school leaders…
To the teachers, I want to quote what Mother Teresa said - “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Teachers, you are a gift to society. I congratulate you, for committing yourself to teaching. Continue to learn and be empowered to empower the society.
To my fellow leaders, let us all work together to build a society where there is justice, peace, knowledge and innovation. Let our classrooms be the spawning for future leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists and above all, good and upright citizens.
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of January, 2020.