‘Choose the professional stream you really like. Don’t fear opposition at home.’
Aditi Kumar, an English teacher at Secunderabad Public School, is a veteran teacher with 19 years of experience behind her; this means 19 years of grooming. Yet she speaks with an enthusiasm that is sure to rub off on students every time she enters a classroom. One guesses she not only got better with her art every year but also got more enthusiastic with every new batch of young students. She coaches Class X.
Do you think digitally-aided education in classroom is as useful as it is believed to be?
It is useful as long as a teacher blends it properly with the traditional methods of teaching. Firstly, it helps the class with pronounciation because students get to listen to the lessons from an audio medium. Smart-boards are also quite systematic – it starts with the synopsis of the lesson. At this stage, I add a story or two based on a similar event depicted in the lesson so that students connect to it better. I must add that I tend to come across certain examples with regards to grammar (or other exercises) that are either factually not correct or culturally inappropriate – I censor them. By and large, the ready-made material on the slide is useful and I supplement it with explanations of my own.
The teaching tool does improve LSRW (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing) for sure. It also makes English lessons much more interesting – for instance, a lesson on Julius Caesar becomes more appealing when it’s accompanied with strong visuals.
Do you still see a craze for mainstream courses like Engineering and medicine among parents of school students?
I still do see that mindset in them. I ask them never to force their aspirations on them. I also tell the students to openly express their inclinations to the parents and insist on choosing a stream they are interested in. I tell them that it’s okay if parents get irate with them initially – it is worth facing the opposition than be stuck with a professional course one doesn’t enjoy.
Even in the classroom, if I see a student who is good at writing wanting to opt for engineering. I gently try telling him or her that he can well choose to be a reporter/journalist or a writer. But at the end, it’s the student’s choice.
What do you think of CCE methods by CBSE and the way it’s being implemented?
With CCE, we get an opportunity to work on a student and make someone who scores 5/10 gradually score 10/10. They also have many opportunities to assess themselves and improve throughout the year as a continuous process. Also, a student who does not excel in academics gets to score well on other fronts.
What kind of unique problems do students of today face in their life according to you?
At school level, there is a lot peer pressure for them to handle. Also, many of them are overusing social networking sites. I caution my female students when I find that they post photos of themselves on these sites. I ask them what if they get the kind of attention they can’t handle. I counsel many students everday.
Tell us about your career graph.
I worked in many schools across India. Being an armyman’s wife, I stayed in many cities. I worked in the North-East also. I started by teaching kindergarten students.
Any tips for students to prepare well for exams?
Don’t study a difficult subject at a stretch for, say, 5 hours. It tends to get too heavy. Instead break the monotony to start work on a subject you find easier and come back to the tough one. Cut down on TV and cell phones. Use your breaks to take walks and speak to your family at home. If you speak too much to your classmates on phone when you are preparing then they will tend to talk about how much more syllabus they have covered – it will get you tensed. Everyone has their own way of preparation.
What are your classroom management techniques?
A teacher must know her own subject very well and must go well-prepared to class. If she is wobbly on those grounds then students sense it. If you are good with your subject then there is no need to scream in class. As for me, I choose each student as an example every day to convey something I want to or explain a lesson. They don’t take it personally – they volunteer for it and enjoy it. They know it’s not personal. (Laughs)