A tweet by Rima Singh got me thinking about how the COVID 19 outbreak has so deeply impacted our lives. Around the same time, I was responding to a FB post by my childhood friend on “What is the first thing you will do when this lockdown ends and the threat is over and who is the first person you want to see?” and we had an interesting debate on why for me the answer was simple… “Would love to get back to work! My corridor, my kids and my school campus!”
These two reflections got me to introspect as to why I was missing work so much and why the online version of it was not as gratifying or fulfilling! So here I list down in the order of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 5 reasons why I miss my corridor!
1. My campus – Physiological Needs
I have been fortunate to work at a beautiful campus. Spacious, open and with nature being a dominant element in the design. In a crowded city like Mumbai, my school is one of those few spread out over 8 acres of land and bordered by the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is home to beautiful trees and birds and bees!
A campus like this for a workplace is a dream come true and a gift from life itself. The green surroundings, the lotus pond, the Koi pool all breathe beauty to what we do and also soothes our nerves on a stressful day! The multi-sensory engagement with my work environment is what I miss so much!
I am deeply grateful for where I work!
2. Teaching and Learning – Safety needs
I was born to teach and discovered the path early in life. Being with books, students and engaging in learning is what comes naturally to me. Interacting with the curriculum, planning engagements and learning activities with teachers is what gives me a sense of security and safety… as this is what I am best at!
Being in the classroom or in my meeting with my colleagues gives me a sense of comfort that nothing else in life can provide. Teaching and learning is not just work, but a calling, and I have been locked in a cage, hands tied, voice choked.
I am deeply grateful for what I do!
3. Learner Agency: Voice, Choice (inquiry) Ownership (strategies) – Love and belonging
I have been fortunate to study and teach in schools that believed in giving freedom to its teachers, nurturing creativity in students and empowering the community to achieve great educational goals. Be it the spiritually charged learning environment at The Future Foundation School, open learning atmosphere at Sahyadri School, the innovative work environment at Rewachand Bhojwani Academy under Madhavi Kapur’s guidance or the empowering Pathways World School. As a pedagogical leader in my current school, I have striven to apply and incorporate all my past learning experiences in my school, creating a cohesive team. I believe in feeling a sense of ownership where I work and with my team, we have developed a strong team bonding and a sense of belonging.
Collaborative Meetings allow each teacher to freely express their opinions and thus, share their voice. The process of inquiry gives our students the choice to co-construct the Central Ideas and Lines of Inquiry, plan assessments, pursue their own inquiries and lead the community in taking meaningful action within the school, the local and global community. As a community of learners, our teachers and students work together on making learning engaging and meaningful by integrating technology. Learning is not imposed, teaching is not directed… and everyone is on the journey together taking proud ownership of both the process and the product.
I am deeply grateful for the way we learn!
4. Learner Profile – Esteem
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”, said Aristotle. I truly believe that education must build character. The Learner Profile is that tool and also the yardstick to measure how well we are building character in our students. It also extends to educators, to assess how well we are role-modelling the attributes, reflecting on our own personalities and working to polish our human character by nourishing our heart.
I get the chance to inculcate these values through various interactions throughout the day. When I ask a student an open-ended question, I am making him a thinker. When I see a tree on my campus and ask its scientific name, I am being an inquirer. When I discuss a lesson plan with a teacher, we are both being reflective and good communicators. When I have to introspect and accept or negotiate differences of opinions or intervene in inter-personal conflicts, the experience challenges me to be more open-minded. As a result of being mindful of the ten attributes of the Learner Profile, we are constantly building our character and developing our multiple intelligences.
I am deeply grateful for the tool I have to reflect!
5. IB Mission – Self-actualisation
I work ultimately for the IBO, in my many roles! It is an organisation that has evolved over the last five decades since its founding in 1968, from being merely a body that coordinated internationally-accepted school-leaving examinations to an educational organisation that believes in developing citizens ready for the future. We can see from the way the world has been rapidly transforming over the last couple of decades, that the needs of tomorrow are very different and often unknown, as we are all learning from the current pandemic crisis.
At these times, when global leaders are fumbling to take the right actions, people across the world are united by their common cause of suffering and the future of the global economy is walking a thin line, the Mission Statement of the IB seems extremely significant:
“The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
Thus, it fills me with a great sense of fulfillment, pride and passion to be an educator working with the IB, not just in my school role, but also as a workshop and school visit facilitator for the IB as a part of the IB Educator Network (IBEN).
I am deeply grateful to be able to fulfill my mission through my work!
As my nation extends its lockdown to May 3rd, leaving us as a learning community to stay in touch with each other through online tools only, I can’t wait to be back in my corridors!
Abhimanyu Das Gupta, Yogesh Patil, Sonia Kedia, Mahua Roy and Liliana Bandini
Thank you Meena, Clancy and Saloni!