Blogs

blog-thumbnail
Read More

Top 7 Innovative Teaching Methods Any School Can Incorporate

Teaching 21st-century students needs innovative methods proven to work effectively with today’s tech-smart students. Here are seven teaching methods used across the globe that bring in desired academic results in a quicker time when compared to traditional teaching methods. The caveat? They need to be understood and implemented correctly.

This list is beneficial for educators as a starting point to understand what are the top innovative teaching methods being used across the world. By experimenting with different teaching methods, teachers can personalize learning for their students. Let us look at these 7 teaching methods that can be a game changer for any school. 

1) Flipped Classroom 

A modern pedagogy strategy that has gained popularity among educators worldwide, a flipped classroom is a blended learning strategy that directs the students to be self-dependent learners at home and test what they have learned in the classroom with live problem-solving sessions.

Benefits:

a) Students become independent learners

b) Students are better engaged in the classroom

c) Teachers can complete syllabus without being rushed

2) Cooperative Learning

“Teamwork makes the dream work.” A cooperative teaching method is where the teacher groups students and encourages collaborative learning within the groups. Here, the classroom is divided into groups of 3-6 members, where each student has a designated responsibility. Members of the group need to fulfill their respective duties to achieve the objective given to the group. The central ideology of this model is that when students work in groups, peer influence helps to improve attention, involvement, and knowledge acquisition.

Benefits:

a) Develops social interaction and critical life skills

b) Develops higher-level thinking skills

c) Promotes higher engagement and class attendance

d) Fosters interpersonal relationships

3) Problem-Based Learning 

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a method where open-ended problems take centre stage for students to solve. This method enables students to think continuously with motivation and determination until the problem is solved. The student journey for solving the problem requires them to 1) Examine the problem, 2) Explore resources where they can find the solution, 3) Evaluate the ways to solve the problem, 4) Solve the problem, and 5) Report on their findings.

Benefits:

a) Develops critical thinking and decision-making skills

b) Fosters problem-solving abilities

c) Engages students at higher levels

4) Design Thinking

Design thinking is the process of finding meaningful ideas to solve a particular real-world problem that exists in a community or an organisation. It uses a creative, systematic approach to teach problem-solving. When induced into education, it enables students to be innovative and create solutions for others. Here, knowledge is gained only through exploration.

Benefits:

a) Encourages creative thinking

b) Expands the students’ knowledge on a wide range of topics

c) Actively promotes being able to foresee new problems and challenges

5) Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning is a method where students progress through learning objectives at their own pace. The main characteristic of this model is that only when a student has mastered a topic are they allowed to continue to the next.

Benefits:

a) Brings in greater flexibility in learning (and achieving)

b) Establishes purpose-driven teaching and learning

c) Uses personalised teaching-learning processes

6) Student-centred approach

The student-centred approach is all about making learning matter to the students. Here students are the ones who plan, implement and evaluate. They get to decide what they learn and how they learn it. The main motive behind this approach is to build leaders within students.

Benefits:

a) Builds leadership within students 

b) Customised learning for students 

c) An approach that is flexible and adaptable 

7) Visual-Based Learning

Visuals help anyone to remember things for a longer period. In school, visual learning can help teachers light up dull subjects that may seem less interesting for students. This teaching method will help keep the students engaged in learning the subjects better with better knowledge retention.

Examples of visual-based learning are the incorporation of mind maps, maps, charts, diagrams, lists, study cards or flashcards as well as the use of audiovisual aids. 

Benefits:

a) Learning is simplified 

b) Longer knowledge retention for students 

c) Learning becomes fun 

Skilled Teachers = Better Implementation

No matter how effective these innovative teaching methods are, teachers first need to be trained well in order to be able to implement them well. Teachers need to be equipped with the proper knowledge and implementation skills.

Enroll your teachers in StarTeacher - a holistic teacher training program that brings proven international teaching methodologies and innovative techniques to your school. Find out how your teachers and school can benefit.

blog-thumbnail
Read More

The Importance of Teacher Training Programs

Our education system, which is one of the oldest in the world, has recently come under the radar about its effectiveness to cater to the 21st century student. The doubts stem from the question: Is our education system able to provide all that today’s students need to excel in academics and ultimately, in their career? Education leaders across the country have expressed their share of opinions regarding the reformation of our education system. From changing the syllabus structure to changing the study environment, different opinions about reform have arisen. And, while there are certainly many opinions being expressed,  the one major unanimous concern being expressed by all experts is lack of adequate teacher training! Every professional in this world needs upskilling because every profession changes or undergoes modifications for the betterment of itself. So why aren’t teachers trained regularly?  The one profession that shows the path to other professions should receive priority when it comes to training and upskilling, isn’t it?

What is a teacher training program? 

Let’s first outline what a teacher training program is. A teacher training program is a program that equips teachers with techniques and modern pedagogy strategies that helps them to better connect with, manage, and teach to their students in a manner which ensures that all students are learning and benefitting. Teacher training programs, when conducted in the right manner and with the right content, have the power to train teachers to such an extent that they go on to positively impact students not just in academics but also outside of it. After the long gap with remote schooling owing to covid restrictions, both students and teachers are facing the consequences of learning loss and teaching loss, respectively. Students have almost completely lost their literacy and numeracy skills and teachers are struggling to get back to their offline routine of teaching. This needs to be sorted early, as it can have consequences both in the short term and long term. The only ones who can help students recover from learning loss are teachers. So training teachers, especially now, is very critical for our education system. Teacher training programs are of different types and forms: There are short term, medium term and long term programs which are conducted online or offline. There is also a holistic teacher training program like StarTeacher which is a combination of the online and offline modes. 

Why is teacher training necessary?

Training teachers is necessary in the 21st century mainly because of the fact that current generation students don't comprehend traditional teaching methods. We cannot teach students of today with methods of yesterday. Students in the 21st century need personalisation in education. The Indian education system has been following the habit of seeing the classroom as a whole and not as individual students, which is unfair to the majority of students. Each student is unique in myriad ways including in the way they think, analyse, understand and go about academics. It is therefore important for our existing system to bring in this change. Training teachers to know how to view their students as unique individuals with different learning styles is the game changer. Once teachers understand this and know how to cater to the various learning styles, they will positively impact hundreds and thousands of students.

Teacher training is also more critical now than ever because teachers today are struggling with identifying and filling the learning gaps in students to bring them up to grade level. Plus, they need to complete the current year’s syllabus as well. If there were ever a mammoth task, it is this. Without the right knowledge, tools, and skills, teachers cannot be reasonably expected to navigate these challenges on their own.

Some of the major benefits of teacher training programs:

1)  Professional growth 

When teachers attend training programs, it gives them the opportunity for continuous professional development - to learn new ways, methods, strategies, skills and tools. When teachers get upskilled they automatically feel confident, happy and motivated to achieve greater things with their students. Confident and happy teachers mean confident and happy students!

2) Better Student Management

As a teacher it is important to know, understand and analyse one’s students effectively. Only then can they know how to teach their students. Teaching 12-year olds cannot and should not be the same as teaching 5-year olds, isn’t it? Teacher training programs help teachers to better understand and therefore, better manage their students.

3) Equips them with modern pedagogy strategies

Through a holistic teacher training program teachers, especially those who have been teaching for many years and therefore not likely to be aware of updated practices and methodologies, learn new methods and techniques which they can implement in the classroom to better educate their students. Not all traditional teaching methods are ineffective. At the same, not all of them are relevant anymore.

4) Builds better relationships with parents 

In every school, one of the important predictors of happiness and success is the relationships teachers have with parents.  It is important for teaches to cultivate and maintain positive relationships with the parents of the students. A teacher is the one who converses with parents the most during  parent-teachers meetings, drop-off and pick-up etc. Better relationship with parents = better satisfaction quotient for the school.

5) Impacts thousands of students indirectly 

A teacher training program not just impacts teachers but also students. A single teacher who is upskilled can go on to impact thousands of students. Teachers have a big role to play in nation building because students are the citizens of tomorrow. Imagine then, the impact that can be created by upskilled teachers. 

The conclusion

Our education system needs to go from “Is teacher training important?” to “Our teachers MUST be trained regularly!", only then can any other change we bring into our education system really impact students positively. 

blog-thumbnail
Read More

Tips to Improve Student Engagement in the Classroom

“The true strength in our classroom lies in collaboration between learners and not in the knowledge of one expert” - Unknown. 

An engaging classroom helps students learn things more efficiently. A student who is engaged typically has the best learning outcomes. It is therefore very important for teachers to make their classroom as engaging as possible. An engaging classroom has several important benefits such as: 

  1. It increases students’ interest in learning

  2. It motivates students to be communicative which, in turn, develops communication and collaboration skills

  3. It increases competency across skills and subjects

So, how can teachers make the classroom engaging for all students? Let's look at a few ways to achieve maximum student engagement in the classroom.

1) Conduct Group Activities

Group activities are a great way to achieve collaborative learning among your students. When students are put into groups, learning becomes fun and  in better productivity.

Conducting group activities is considered to be a very effective method to motivate students, encourage active learning, and improve communication as well as decision-making skills. Group activities not only enhance the communication skills of students but also encourage the students’ to listen more carefully. Some examples of group activities that could be conducted in the classroom are group discussions, information-exchange activities, group presentations, role plays, debates, etc.

2) Ask Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Closed-ended questions, naturally, are those questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” such as, “Do you like math?”, “Have you done your homework?” etc. Open-ended questions are a simple yet very powerful way to transform the way students think and communicate.  They encourage students to think, analyse, use language and to express themselves by giving longer answers that help build a wider range of vocabulary. Open-ended questioning has various benefits for students such as: 

a) Encourages students to think more and better 

b) Supports students in coming up with their own ideas and explanations 

c) Develops vocabulary 

d) Develops the habit of thinking of something new or different

e) Improves problem-solving skills.

Teachers should avoid asking questions that have just a single word answer. Also, ask students to explain their answers, which makes the student extend his or her level of thinking and understanding.

3) Gamify Learning

Games and activities are a great way to keep students engaged in the classroom. Since games have that fun element, students stay hooked to them and naturally  participate in the learning process with more interest. Because games have a competitive element to them, learning will be more motivating and bring better engagement. They also are a great way to enhance problem solving, thinking and collaborative skills among students. Teachers can look to gamify certain topics in their subjects regularly which is accomplished best with activities such asstories, competitions, quizzes, puzzles etc.

4) Understand Your Students’ Interests

Understanding the individual you are teaching is very important. Our education system unfortunately considers the entire classroom as as one single unit. But that is not so. The classroom is composed of unique individuals, each with their own personality, likes and dislikes, skills, talents, and abilities. If you look closely and genuinely try to understand each one of your students you will be able to see the uniqueness in each of them. Some may excel with the traditional methods but others may fall behind in the same traditional classroom. Understanding how each of your students’ learns is key to customising your teaching accordingly to enable every student to stay engaged and succeed

5) Encourage Students to Present their Work

Presentations are a great way for students to come up with their own creative ideas. Presentations enable students to explain their understanding of a certain topic and also gives them the platform to improve their public speaking skills, which is very crucial in today’s world. Presentations help students build communication skills and confidence as well as encourage peer learning, collaboration, teamwork, brainstorming, and problem solving - all of which are critical 21st century skills. And of course, presentations are an intrinsic motivation for students to learn and understand topics.  

6) Give and receive feedback

Feedback is a great way for teachers to convey the positives and areas of concern to a student. Having constant feedback sessions with each student will enhance your relationship with the student. Outlining the positives and pointing out the areas of improvement will help the student to grow in a constructive and systematic way. The same holds good for teachers, too. Getting to know about your teaching from your own students will help you understand where you can improve to better teach your students.

What More Can A Teacher Do?

As in every profession, upskilling is important. The same applies to the one profession that teaches every other profession. Today's generation of students are not made for a classroom that uses traditional teaching methods. Teachers must know the latest pedagogy strategies and teaching tools and methods to teach their students. 

We at Learning matters have curated the perfect program for schools who wish to upskill their teachers in order to bring in highest levels of student engagement and therefore sustainable success to their school. Get in touch with us today to help your teachers reach their potential best.

blog-thumbnail
Read More

Top 5 Tips to Build Better Teacher-Student Relationships in your School

Research suggests that students who have very positive interactions with their teachers are highly successful academically. That is, positive teacher-student interactions have been shown to improve student learning outcomes and grades. This is because when students genuinely enjoy interacting with their teachers, they become more confident about the subject and are more motivated in their academics. 

Therefore it is very important for teachers to make every effort to build positive relationships with students. While this does not come naturally to every teacher it can indeed be built and cultivated with guidance from the top management in the school. After all, it is the leadership who sets the tone for the environment and atmosphere in the school. So, how can your staff work towards cultivating better relationships with their students? Here are the top 5 tips. 

1) Create a Positive Atmosphere in the Classroom

Happy students = happy learners. And how do we make students happy? By engaging them with a variety of activities. Teachers who keep the classroom lively, cheerful and active with various fun activities engage their students at higher rates. This helps create a positive atmosphere which in turn, helps the teacher to connect better with their students. Encourage your academic coordinators to come up with a list of 5-minute activities that teachers can use as ‘brain breaks’ at the beginning of classes or during transitions. Encourage your staff to share activities that students particularly enjoy with one another.

2) Listen actively

Listening with attention, interest and intent to students and genuinely understanding them is one of the most crucial and easiest ways to evaluate not only their interests but also areas of challenges and concerns. This helps the teacher to come up with better ways to make the learning process more engaging for their students. 

One way to do this is to encourage your teachers to set aside some time every week as an “Open Door” time during which those students who would like to share challenges or concerns may do so in private. Remember to set some guidelines around these sessions. Many schools have a counselor on staff - a dedicated person to counsel students. But if you don't have a counselor, that’s perfectly alright. You yourself can take up this role or encourage a coordinator or any teacher who has the natural ability to connect well with students, to become the official “listener”. 

3) Personalize Teaching

Not every student learns in the same way. If you monitor your students closely, you will notice the uniqueness of each one of your students’. Personalizing learning is an efficient way to enhance the scope of learning for a student. It helps build a better connection with your students as they will have the confidence that they can learn efficiently.

4) Talk More Than Just Academics

Teachers should bring in much more than just academics into the classroom. Sharing and discussing a variety of topics that range from personal and inspirational to success will help to enhance the bond between teachers and students. There are many simple ways to inculcate this. One way is to encourage a daily “news hour” during the zero period. Class teachers can designate 5 minutes to discuss a world event of special interest. Another way is for subject teachers to dedicate the first or last 5 minutes of the session as a “share” session. Students can take turns to share something of importance to them. Teachers can set guidelines around these including time limits, what topics are allowed/not allowed, as well as how others are permitted to react. Such extra-curricular discussions help students learn important life skills such as respect and understanding of diversity, empathy, responsibility, and taking alternative perspectives, to name just a few,

5) Motivate! Motivate! Motivate!

Students who are motivated are typically the ones who actively define and seek success. Having a constant source of motivation from their teachers, with whom they spend the most time during the school years, will go a very long way. Teachers should motivate their students not just in academics but also in sports and other extracurricular activities to boost their confidence and also support a healthy lifestyle for students. Encourage your staff to make a note of students’ special interests, skills and strengths and to find opportunities for students to further develop these. A strong emphasis on health, sport, and a variety of arts in the school culture is important to set a strong foundation for motivation.

Start!

To start and bring about positive change, one has to take the first step. If you’re unsure how to take the first step, we are here to take it with you. Our StarTeacher program has supported many school management teams in establishing a culture of positive teacher-student relationships. They now report that students’ learning outcomes have dramatically improved. We would love to help you do the same in your institution. WhatsApp us today to find out how StarTeacher can bring about guaranteed positive change in your school.  

blog-thumbnail
Read More

5 ways online teaching should be different from face-to-face teaching

The concept of traditional education has changed radically in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now with the rise of various ed-tech learning solutions, being physically present in a classroom isn’t a requirement for learning anymore!

Pandemic or not, it’s safe to say that online teaching is here to stay as a full-time or some kind of hybrid learning model in the coming time. While technology is the main aspect, there are various other important factors that teachers need to pay heed to to ensure online teaching is different from face-to-face teaching. Why so? Because the online environment is drastically different from the traditional classroom environment, teachers need to develop a wide array of new teaching skills and strategies to compensate for the absence of a physical classroom and to ensure students are learning effectively in the new medium.

Here are 5 characteristics of the teaching-learning process in online teaching that should be different from face-to-face teaching.

1. More Emphasis on Community Building & Digital Competency

As a teacher, the utmost responsibility is to complete the syllabus on time. So, it’s common for many teachers to directly jump into teaching from day one. However, with online classes it’s important to devote the early weeks to building a sense of community so that students feel connected with their teachers and peers and therefore, more engaged in the process. Deeper engagement is a must for effective learning.

On the heels of this, it is equally important to ensure students’ comfort and competency in using the chosen online learning platform and tools. A detailed induction to the digital tools used in the classroom is necessary to acquaint students with the virtual classroom settings. It is natural to assume that most students are tech-savvy and that they need no induction on online classrooms. But, this is not always the case. There might be a few timid students who might not speak up and ask questions about the usage of online learning tools due to fear of embarrassment. Kick-starting the learning sessions with creative community-building experiences can help the children unwind among peers.

2. Focus on Streamlined Communication With Parents

Over-involvement of parents in online classes is a real problem. Teachers shouldn’t have to stress over helicopter parents. Schools should therefore facilitate a forum for both parents and teachers to creatively collaborate and build mutual trust.

Teachers must establish a consistent platform and predictable schedule for sharing information with parents. Rather than toggling around with messages and emails, a weekly update at the scheduled time and place will be much more effective and will reduce ad-hoc queries from parents. Also, setting clear expectations and boundaries for communication with both students and parents is important to avoid any kind of misunderstandings.

3. Greater Teacher Collaboration

Collaboration between teachers can ease the burden of online teaching while allowing one to explore more tools and techniques of teaching. Teachers need to work closely together to share their knowledge of digital tools and online teaching tips and techniques to reduce duplication of work and bring in greater efficiency and use of time. In fact, collaboration between teachers is much easier now in the virtual environment.

4. Simplify and Slow Down the Content; Build Critical Skills

The online space is not the ideal medium to cover large portions of content quickly. The physical gap between teachers and students magnifies certain negative aspects of online teaching. Teachers should be mindful of this and need to plan how to teach crucial content and important topics at a slow pace. Teachers also need to pay heed to aspects like the essential knowledge needed to go ahead to the next grade for a pupil as well as acquisition of crucial life- and knowledge skills like analyzing, constructing arguments, summarizing, etc. and build these critical skills through carefully-designed assignments.

5. Take a Backseat on Conventional Grading System

There have been vigorous arguments about how to manage grading in remote learning. Due to the nature of online learning, it would be better to accentuate formative feedback as students work through assignments and tasks, rather than simply grading them at the end. Most of the learning management systems have a feature to provide feedback. So, teachers can make the most of it by making sure to give periodical and meaningful feedback to students while creating avenues to receive feedback from the students and parents on the assignments.

blog-thumbnail
Read More

Voice-Assisted Technology to Transform Education in Rural India

Students and teachers at Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya in Thiruvidaimarudur, a village near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, have been learning the basics of spoken English with Tara, an interactive, AI-enabled natural language voice recognition tool. The brainchild of Learning Matters, an award-winning education technology startup headquartered in Bangalore, India, Tara is powered by Amazon Alexa and AWS. This “machine teacher” has provided learners with a novel, engaging, fun, and judgement-free environment. The progress they have made in the acquisition of English vocabulary, comprehension skills, and confidence in speaking English publicly is testament to the fact that when a learner is truly engaged, outcomes will follow naturally.

The gains shown by the students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya have been mirrored in other users of Tara - K-12 schools and NGOs alike - such as the Shifting Orbits Foundation and the Head Held High Foundation. Worldwide, English proficiency is the key to academic and career success. While students in urban India grow up with the ubiquitous presence of English in their lives, this is not so for those in tier-2 and 3 India. Tara’s primary target market is these under-resourced communities.

With the use of text-to-speech and speech-to-text, Tara has been teaching communicative English to students and teachers in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Over 30,000 students in schools with poor teacher-student ratios or lack of qualified teachers now have a “teacher” who can converse, repeat lessons, provide feedback, and correct mistakes repeatedly. Tara has not replaced teachers but rather empowered them with the flexibility to conduct classes with “her” help and to improve learning outcomes. She teaches learners how to communicate through a combination of lessons that include listening, speaking, reading, and writing (LSRW).

A member of the AWS EdStart Accelerator Program, Learning Matters turned to AWS and Amazon Alexa at the very beginning to quickly prototype Tara and go to market. Tara is a skill that is created with Alexa Voice Service and hosted on AWS platform. Tara back-end services, including the logic of all teacher and student interactions, are hosted on AWS Lambda. The team uses AWS documentation to help develop new modules and also uses AWS Cloud’s advances in AI and cloud computing to create professional development programmes for teachers.

Why AWS? AWS helped Learning Matters quickly prototype and test Tara. Moreover, time to market was drastically reduced with AWS. With AWS’s services being mature and elastic, the team is able to quickly configure Tara to required capacity and without encountering serious bug blockers. Moreover, the features provided by AWS come with rich documentation and they enable quick development of modules. Finally, the AWS forums help to have any queries clarified really quickly.

Learning from voice comes naturally for humans. After all, this is how we begin to learn language - by listening to and speaking with those around us. As we grow older, books ensure deeper engagement with language learning by bringing in the reading and writing components. Tara enhances learning not only among students but also amongst teachers. She makes high-quality educational solutions accessible and affordable to semi-urban and rural schools. Most importantly, she is a scalable and sustainable solution. There is no doubt that Tara has the power to create tidal waves of impact in teaching and learning in underserved India.

blog-thumbnail
Read More

Why are some kids thriving during remote learning?

COVID-19 has remodeled all facets of our daily lives. Teachers and students in particular have had to resort to virtual ways in order to engage, educate and be educated. While the rather forced transition to online teaching and learning hasn’t been easy on all students, there seem to be some who are surprisingly thriving in this medium. Let’s take a closer look at why some kids are doing exceedingly well in remote learning.

The Brighter Side

While the pandemic has shrunk the lives of many kids to just their homes and screens, not all kids are sad about it. So, what are the aspects of online learning that have aided some kids to thrive?

  • Support of Self-Pace
    Flexibility is the hallmark of e-learning. Students who do well in self-paced, flexible learning situations therefore thrive in this environment. It is this factor that hooks certain students in and keeps their attention span intact. As online materials and courses are accessible at any hour of the day, it makes students feel more in control. With recorded videos and e-notes available, students can replay and retain information anytime, in a better manner, and are able to learn at their own pace. This helps students take ownership as they’re no longer under the micromanagement of the regular school day in the teacher’s physical presence.

  • Dare we say, the Devil is in the Distractions
    It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that students have an immensely busy schedule during regular schooling. During the school day, students constantly remain on the go with sports, club meetings, extra-curricular activities, tuitions and more. But the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have cut short many of these activities enabling students to focus better on only their online classes and learning.

  • Sleep - the Best Self-Care!
    Just like many adults, children too can be night owls or early birds. The former are those who are very productive in the evening and nighttime. Most students are no longer waking up to a very early alarm clock now. The kids who have a hard time staying alert in their early morning classes are now able to get their work done in the evenings and nights. They are able to get their sleep at their own timetable now. Remote learning has provided such students with the desired flexibility that has boosted productivity.

  • Home - the Safe Haven!
    While much has been discussed about missing in-person connections and relationships at school, there are students who have benefited from this. Typically, these are students for whom school socialization is fraught with anxiety. Such as students with ADHD or students who have been victims of physical or verbal bullying while at school. For them, being able to learn from home, the ultimate safe space is a huge relief. Learning in their ‘safe place’ has boosted their confidence and productivity.

So, is this a long-term solution?

Remote learning has been a disaster for many students. But some kids have thrived. This somehow throws light on the lack of inclusivity in our education system as well.

Even as more schools are extending remote learning indefinitely, a lot of students just can’t wait to get back into the classroom. However, it is clear that even after it is deemed safe to return to school, it won’t be a complete return to what was considered normal.

Forms of remote learning have existed since the 19th century, but it was never mainstream. With the COVID era, we all have witnessed the rise of numerous online learning tools and platforms. It could be possible that remote learning, just like homeschooling, may be considered as a permanent viable option by many.

blog-thumbnail
Read More

Tips for Teachers: 5 Ways to Practice Mental Health and Wellness

In the wake of World Mental Health Day, we wanted to talk about something not a lot of people talk about. Why is it important for teachers to focus on their mental health and wellness? In your day-to-day juggle, it becomes very easy to put other people’s mental health and wellbeing needs ahead of your own. Just as during a flight safety briefing adults are reminded to secure their safety belts and oxygen masks first in any emergency before assisting others, the same holds good for mental health. Only when you are healthy and well can you care for others. How can you make sure you create a positive mental health culture in yourself as well as in your students?

Here are our Top 5 tips:

1. Be active, even at home

All of us have our own ways to de-stress and feel rejuvenated. The important things is to make the time to de-stress.

Here are our favorite, and easy, ways to de-stress:

  1. Go for a 10-minute walk.
  2. Pause, close your eyes and take ten deep breaths.
  3. Every 1 hour, take a screen-free break and move away from your computer screen or phone.
  4. Take care of your physical well-being by engaging in some routine exercise or activity.

2. Stay connected

Talking about work issues with a colleague or mentor is a great way to resolve a problem. Sometimes just expressing something out loud can help you untangle a tricky issue and your conversation partner might help you see something from a different point of view!

3. Maintain work-life balance

Be Present: Create clear boundaries between work and home. Trying to limit the amount of school work you bring home and creating an end-of-day ritual are a few ways to get started.

Set Realistic Expectations – It’s OK to Say ‘No’: While teachers are amazing multi-taskers, we are also (mere) humans. People will understand if you do not have time to take on another after-school activity, implement another classroom initiative, or mentor another student teacher.

4. Make the most of technological and online avenues for professional development

Connecting, sharing, and discussing with other educators through online groups and webinars will throw fresh perspectives on mundane tasks and activities, give you new ideas, and rejuvenate you. Sometimes, we all need to step aside from the path we're walking on to discover fresh, new ways of doing things.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness could be as simple as observing each child in your class without any judgment. Your class doesn’t have to be perfectly still and quiet for you to do this! Mindfulness is all about finding the calm amongst the chaos. You can further extend it by teaching mindfulness to your students which will result in increased focus, reduced stress, and an improvement in their academic performance.

What are some of the health and wellness tips you follow as a teacher? Do share them in the comments section.

blog-thumbnail
Read More

How Voice-Technology Can Reshape the Education System

"Hey Alexa, place an order for Kellogs cornflakes on Amazon Pantry, please."

Click on the play button to hear Alexa's response:

That’s it! Your requested product is on your doorstep within a couple of days after giving the voice command to Amazon Echo, a smart speaker, and a home assistant.

Alexa, Siri or the ever-reliable Google Maps guiding you to your destination are some of the applications of voice technology popularly known to us. But the potential of voice technology is much more than this. COVID-19 has already fuelled the next wave of innovation in the education sector. While we are just about adapting to virtual learning, voice technology combined with the power of artificial intelligence is already springing up to be a key force in teaching and learning.

Educators and ed-tech companies alike are incessantly working on innovations to making teaching and learning more effective in current times.

Students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya, Thiruvidaimarudur, Kumbakonam learning English from Tara

While e-learning in the form of video-based or visual learning has been instrumental in aiding the learning process during the pandemic, its accessibility is questionable. While students in private schools can attend online classes fairly easily and with all the necessary equipment, those in rural schools are facing multiple challenges with unreliable internet connectivity, minimal to poor access to necessary platforms for e-learning, and the high-cost factor of devices.

As video-based learning requires a strong internet connection, it becomes a hurdle for teachers and students in semi-urban and rural India to completely rely on it. Most of the private schools rich with resources are effectively making use of Google Classrooms, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard, Tata Class Edge, etc., However, teachers and students of the semi-urban and rural regions don’t have access to technology and high-quality solutions and training like their urban counterparts.

Is there a feasible solution to this challenge? Yes. The answer is voice technology.

Why Voice Technology?

Students in Sri Kanchi Sankara Vidyalaya, Ganapathy Agraharam, Kumbakonam learning from Tara

When compared to visual learning, voice-assisted technology is not only economical and easily accessible but also comes with its own set of unique benefits. Here are a few of them:

  1. Voice-assisted technology is very light on hardware as users only need a small device that supports voice, such as an EchoDot, that is easily portable.

  2. Voice-enabled devices have very simple interfaces. So there is no intimidation or fear for people who aren’t as tech-savvy as others.

  3. The bandwidth required for voice-enabled technology to function seamlessly is much less than that required for video-based learning. 512 Mbps is the minimum bandwidth needed so even a 3G connection is sufficient.

  4. Many voice devices come with battery back-up and so, a consistent electricity supply is not required.

  5. Because of factors #1, 2, 3, and 4 above, this technology is much more easily deployed than other technology solutions.

  6. Voice-assisted learning solutions make use of the most natural way in which human beings learn - through listening and speaking. We all learn languages like this. So, using conversation-style learning, which is what voice technology is based on, ensures learning that is natural and effective.

  7. Voice technology isn’t just a passive interface. When it is pedagogically-sound and thoughtfully-designed, the interface will not only tell learners they are incorrect but also explain why and correct them.

  8. Voice technology can repeat lessons, exercises, and assessments as many times as learners need, without any fatigue. 

  9. Voice technology provides a non-judgmental environment for learners to confidently make mistakes and learn. With a voice teacher, there is no fear of embarrassment or making mistakes.

  10. Voice technology supports individualized learning as well as pair, small-group, and large-group learning. One device can serve a class of 30-50 students because of the excellent mic array that can pick up voices from larger ranges. Imagine a class of 30 students clustered around one smartphone on a video call. There’s no comparison.

  11. With big players bringing in voice technology in multiple Indian languages, learning is not restricted only to English.

  12. It is easily extendable to any academic subject and any use case.

  13. There is no concern about children being exposed to longer screen time. The ‘only audio' medium gives no chance to get distracted with visuals and therefore, kids become more attentive.

Voice technology will become the Frontrunner in Education

With minimal features but maximum capability and impact, there is no doubt that voice technology powered by AI has greater ROI and is going to be the next big education trend. Not only can it enhance learning among students but also amongst teachers. It makes high-quality educational solutions accessible and affordable to semi-urban and rural schools. Most importantly, it makes solutions scalable and sustainable.

Most of us have a ubiquitous image of e-learning which is visual-based. However, to ensure that no child (or teacher) is deprived of learning and that they realize their full potential, we must look towards and support voice technology in education.

logo-light