Meenakshi Shailendra, a Social Studies teacher in Secunderabad Public School, speaks to us with an ease that her students for sure find endearing. She was a banking professional in her previous stint. Teaching, however, has always been her passion. She reveals that she has been tutoring batches of juniors ever since she was in class IX herself.
Do you think digitally-aided teaching tools are really helpful in a classroom? Or are they more of a fad?
When I am teaching a lesson the idea is to connect to the class and make the concepts relevant to students. The digital teaching tools are extremely handy – they make learning easy as students can see strong visuals in front of them. The learning is more effective and memory is also improved.
Apart from this, I also make it a point to offer them extra information because social studies is a dynamic subject and relevant to immediate society. There are new developments in it every day. So, this ready-made material makes sure that students get the basics and I supplement the learning with extra information as well as examples of my own.
What are your teaching cum classroom management methods?
I ask questions in class often during a session. This is needed to check how alert the students are. I always make it a point to make eye-contact with them. Including newspapers in education is a mandatory practice in our school.
I also get students to do hands-on activities in Geography and involve them in group discussions.
I think the lessons need to connect to them. When I am teaching history I always connect it to what is going on today. In fact, history is a point of reference to what is going on today. For example, the protest methods of Aam Aadmi Party are nothing new or revolutionary. There were such pressure groups even during the time of European romanticism and during the freedom struggle in India.
What do think of CCE by CBSE board?
CCE has various methods to assess students including hands-on activities. There are unconventional ways to assess such as formative tests – these require students to come up with Power Point presentations and project assignments that integrate different disciplines. For example, Conservation of Non-Renewable Resources is a lesson in Social Studies as well as Biology. Also, if pie diagrams are used to explain this topic then Maths also comes into the picture. When you ask them to write an essay on this topic (along with other tasks) then this is a test of writing skills too. So, if you give students a practical assignment in this topic it tests them in many disciplines at once.
CBSE has given an option to students of either choosing between internally-set question papers and CBSE papers? Is this a healthy option?
No matter what students opt for, they have to prepare seriously for the exams. But internally-set papers are a boon to students with learning disabilities and special needs. I have taught a student in tenth class who is hyper-sensitive, he tends to get stressed and starts to sweat in the exam hall. It affects his writing very badly. So, we make it a point to allocate a scribe for him to write his answers. If it’s a Maths exam we give him extra time. These considerations won’t be possible if he opts for a CBSE paper with external invigilators overseeing him. So, it’s good to give students this option.