We have a culture of professional development, collaborative planning and openness to sharing best practices with colleagues. Teacher vacations are cut short by several weeks, weekends include working Saturdays, and work days include stay back as often as it takes to do the job right, through development of resources, reflection on classroom management practices, streamlining of course syllabi and lesson plans—and frequent feedback based on classroom visits and “micro teaching.”
All teachers are engaged in learning encounters with different experts through the session. Dr. Ravindran, a renowned education psychologist, has been instrumental in empowering teachers to understand the needs and special needs of all children. Through many such intensive workshops, teachers are trained to engage with children in developing the class constitution or rules. Through a dynamic process of cognitive and social democracy, all children and teachers develop structures and rules that fall in the domain of communication, movement, respect, conflict resolution, resources and any other class-specific needs. These are also practically reviewed by the class from time-to-time through the year.
A classroom is the birthplace for values, attitudes and interests. When children experience problems, they begin to share how to address these problems. Teachers guide children in being able to co-create certain structures and practices that can not only become reminders for keeping problems at bay, but also principles to generate thought about how to create meaningful practices. Hence, children also begin to shoulder responsibilities in class, becoming managers of stationary, notebooks, fun sheets, cleanliness, lining up for movement across school, and issuing of books and other such aspects. They begin to listen to each other and respond with respect.
The School recognizes that real progress derives from feedback, exchange of ideas, and collegiality. Over the past decade, the School involved all its teachers in the envisioning process to develop a shared understanding of what we stand for and our Vision as a community of Educators. The new teacher candidates who joined the Heritage family would be inducted into the system through a centralised envisioning retreat, and also through buddy teacher mentoring. Each academic session began with an Orientation Session for the parents as well wherein the parents and teachers collectively engaged in co-creating a vision for the year, and reviewed the structures that would facilitate the process of coming closer to the vision. Similarly, the teachers would involve their students in the process of self-governance wherein they would co-create a vision for their class and take certain decisions or make choices across domains for their class community.
After over a decade, the School has again engaged in a whole-school review of its policies, practices and structures. Multiple meanings, perspectives and reasoned interpretations immerged as the School Principal engaged all stakeholders – teachers, parents, and students – across grades in separate review meetings over days and weeks. Each group critically reflected upon the relevance of the existing structures and practices, and documented reasoned suggestions that could facilitate an effective and efficient functioning of the school keeping in mind the higher or true purpose of life. Democratic participation by all stakeholders in this review exercise has now given birth to a new era in the School as it gets ready to facilitate its students in playing leadership roles with fresher ideas, insights, perspectives and dreams.
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