Meet the Educator
Q: How did you feel on the first day being school principal/leader?
Dr. Sushma: It was a dream job for me. I was prepared to take on the challenges from day one. So, I choose to be the founder principal of BRGS. I wanted to set my own benchmarks. I felt more responsible and dutiful towards the students and parent community as well as the staff. I wanted my school to be a happy place with positive environment.
Q: The best thing about being a teacher/leader?
Dr. Sushma: The best thing about being a teacher leader is that you know it all. Impossible doesn’t exist in my dictionary. As a teacher I always felt that teachers need to be scaffolded and their skills regularly and adequately honed. There needs to be a robust system in place that supports teachers as well as ensure accountability.
Q: What are the traits of an effective Principal?
Dr. Sushma: An effective principal should have strong communication skills, high levels of knowledge about teaching and learning and the ability to provide Institutional, Instructional and Facilitative leadership all rolled into one to maintain Total Quality Management systems in the school. He/she has to be a visionary, a change agent and should be full of ideas. I feel there is a need to create inspired children for that we need to have examples of inspirational role models so they must be able to see people around them, practising what is being preached.
Q: Please describe the role you feel parents should play in the operation of the school.
Dr. Sushma: Parents, I believe, are partners in education. Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has a lasting effect and impact. Parents should be actively involved in school affairs. They should actively participate in all school activities.
Q: When you visit a classroom, what are the first things you look for as signs that the classroom is an effective teaching place?
Dr. Sushma: Classroom teaching can be an effective learning place if the classroom environment is taken care of by the teacher. The students should feel comfortable not just physically but mentally as well. The children need to feel that they are loved and connected to the teacher and he/she also doubles up as a caring friend.
Q: What is your vision of Special Education?
Dr. Sushma: It should be one earnest effort to address the identified areas of academic or behaviour deficits through the use of evidence based practice and curriculum that focuses on learning gaps. Teaching them basic survival skills in this ever evolving and learned society should be our duty as educationists.
Q: What’s your view on e-learning?
Dr. Sushma: Students are the end users of the information systems that we as educators use to enhance students learning experiences. The virtual classroom has finally become a reality. The interface to the e-learning experience is now a personalized portal, where the learner can interact with learning environment including peers, subject matter experts, experienced veterans in their field and even the course designer.
Finally we are beginning to approach the point at which our learners are no longer restricted by the confines of a physical classroom.
For this reason, a complete review of the school learning program including its LMS learning management system is a required cause of action.
Q: How to make inclusion a reality?
Dr. Sushma: We should initiate and include the students with different needs and integrate them so that they become part of the larger society and sensitize children on issues like caring and sharing if we are to develop a socially cohesive society in which everyone can participate and have a role to play.
All schools should have education for all where:
1. Disability is part of diversity.
2. Including disability in our schools has benefits for all.
3. Inclusive classrooms do not require huge amounts of money or skill.
4. Making use of local assets and one’s immediate community.
5. Recognizing the rights of people with disabilities .
The most important ingredient here is a positive, can-do commitment to the right to education for all, and a willingness to learn.
Q: The most touching things that school children have done for you….
Dr. Sushma: I had just moved from teaching to administration. It’s a memory I cherish till date. It was the Teacher’s Day and there was lot of activity, hustle and bustle outside my office. Children were excited, had brought flowers and card etc. A girl of grade V walks into my room and hands me over a handmade card with all adjectives that she had learnt, gets emotional and says “Ma’am do not sit in this office, please come and teach us, we miss you a lot.”
Q: Best conference/ seminar that you have attended?
Dr. Sushma: This three week-long conference organised by CEMD- Centre for Education Management and Development- a post graduate diploma course for becoming efficient leaders- where I learnt facilitative, instructional and institutional leadership, which had made a tremendous value addition. I also enjoyed the group presentations and the interactive sessions.
Q: Your favourite book….
Dr. Sushma: I really cherish reading the book titled – If You don’t Feed the Teachers, They Eat the Students! It’s a guide to success for administrators and teachers by Neil A. Connors. It’s a must read for all educators, it’s a practical guide full of tips on making a difference in student lives, improving the school atmosphere. It’s a funny but a sensible book.
Q: What are the major qualities you seek in a new teacher?
Dr. Sushma: Major qualities that I see in new teacher include:
- Compassionate human being
- Knowledge and experience
- A life-long learner
- Excellent communication skills
- Passion, sensitivity and a dab of humour
- Interpersonal skills
- Caring attitude, motivator
- Should become a kid magnet
Q: One piece of advice that you want to give to new teachers?
Dr. Sushma: One piece of advice that I would give to new teachers:
- Own the students you teach, rest everything will fall in place.
- Whether you are teacher by chance, when in this profession make it your choice now because you are blessed by God to groom the future generation.
- This profession is not just another job, but it’s a service.