Modern classrooms go beyond chalk-and-board learning


Padmini Sriraman
Principal, The Hindu Senior Secondary School, Indira Nagar, Chennai

Advent of advanced technologies has transformed the format of traditional classrooms. Get a sneak peek into what a modern classroom is all about, and how does it promote quality learning.

How do you think technology can be leveraged to the best advantages of a classroom learning process?

Teaching benefits when supported with need-based and contextually sound technology. Classrooms get richly transformed when listening, speaking, recorded audio, video, etc are put to use, further higher classes’ use computer, power-point presentation, etc. which adds to the teaching effectiveness where learners gain more knowledge because of stronger motivation and also due to increased levels of interest.

If visual or digital technology can be integrated properly then I think students can come up with more wonders. It is true that different people learn in different ways and most of the people are able to retain only 10 percent of what they hear. However, the learning and retention gets better with the addition of a technology support. This means, a teaching programme that offers a variety of approaches, including face-to-face, online and mobile, is bound to have a greater success rate.

Classroom is limited to words spoken and written by teachers, and the hard copies of the materials distributed for reference, blended learning with technology goes far and beyond. It offers learner an online as well as offline learning channels to cater to different learning needs.

Students can access a variety of learning methods in different formats, like, videos, podcasts, text files and lot more. This serves as a knowledge bank, for a large amount of information which when accessed can provide an effective and engaging learning experience for the learners, which is not usually possible in simple, black board/white board teaching methods.

What do you think a school should do to ensure the writing habit remains as a learning culture in a school environment?

Good handwriting serves as a primary tool of communication and knowledge assessment for students in classroom. Though computer and e-mail play an important role in our lives, nothing will ever replace the individualism expressed through handwritten works. Our education system emphasises the student’s handwriting at primary level by introducing books like cursive writing, ruled note books and handwriting exercises, but as they upgrade, impact on handwriting slowly vanishes among students.

In a technology-based world, handwritten letters and notes are becoming less and less common as people get used to typing on laptops or text messaging on cell-phones.

Legible handwriting is an important skill. Systematic handwriting instruction can and should be provided in every school and classroom because all children must know the value and benefits of legible handwriting. Calligraphy can be introduced as a course along with art education.

Evaluation system should emphasise on weight-age for handwriting and subject matter during evaluation.

Teacher should stress on neat presentation with aesthetic handwriting while preparing students for exams, and extra marks must be given for good legible writing. Written practice should be considered as way to increase retention power among students.

What steps can be taken to reduce mismatch between learning style of students and delivery mode of teachers?

Teachers need to free themselves from the routines and look for alternatives that blend the best practices from their own culture and the culture of the students which they bring with them into the classroom.

To reduce teacher-student style conflicts is not easy, but also not impossible if teachers are aware of their learners’ needs, wants, potentials, and learning style preferences in order to use appropriate pedagogical methods to meet them. Teachers should consider culture-related style differences as they plan to teach, and make a conscious effort to include various learning styles in their daily lesson plans.

Reducing the mismatch between teacher intention and learner interpretation will facilitate the chances of achieving desired learning outcomes. The Teachers can use tools to identify students’ needs, including classroom activity preferences, and develop self-aware learners.

Teachers need to adapt classroom materials to make them user-friendly for the students and must help them to express themselves freely without feeling embarrassed when they make mistakes Visuals and films can also contribute to the development of picture in learners’ minds, which might enable learners to retain the information learned for a longer period, and therefore serve as a more effective means to broaden their knowledge.

Classroom activities must be designed to focus on content, vocabulary, introduction of background information, asking questions and use of an integrated approach to develop skills through focused tasks, such as group or pair discussion based on the given questions, role play, writing of summary, asking students to add an ending to the story and sharing reviews, etc.

How do you think a school should address the issue of quality engagement of parents with their children?

When schools and families work together, children do better. Parents need regular orientation programmes to be in touch with school. A calendar of sessions for parents can be prepared along with school calendar and circulated for effective participation. Parent engagement in schools can promote positive health behaviours among children and adolescents. For example, students who are supported by their parents are less likely to experience emotional disturbances, practice unhealthy eating habits, consider or attempt suicide, or abstain from school and learning.

Effective parent and family engagement in education is more than just participation in school meetings. It is actively engaging with the child’s learning, both at home and at school.

A review session must be arranged on a weekly basis for parents to develop good rapport with the school and teachers.

While it’s important to stay informed and be involved in school activities whereever possible, there are lots of things a parent must be asked to do at home which can help the child to do better at school:

  1. To have a high achievable goals for the child.
  2. To talk regularly about school and the value of learning.
  3. To encourage positive attitudes and respect for school and teachers.
  4. To set role model which the parent would like to see in the child.

Other things the parents must be trained to do are as follows, which will have a positive impact:

  1. Must read with the child and listen to the child read out loud.
  2. Ask what was liked by them at school.
  3. Help them to develop strong work habits.

How do you think a school promotes the quality and depth of learning in a classroom situation?

The statement that excessive tools of learning are marginalising the quality and depth of learning is not totally correct. Age, gender, personality, motivation, self-concept and the cultural background of the students influence the way in which they go about learning. To help students to learn effectively, schools and teachers adopt a variety of approaches as well as learning and teaching strategies for achieving different learning objectives.

To address the needs of students with different learning styles, teachers are encouraged to make diversified use of learning materials, such as audio, visual, pictorial, graphic representations, and texts, etc. In other words, formative assessments are used to ensure good understanding of concepts by the students. Freedom to explore is what makes students enjoy learning, interaction with teachers, learning by doing, i.e. practical way of learning by connecting to real life situations makes students develop confidence and get in-depth knowledge of the concepts.

Padmini Sriraman
Padmini Sriraman

Padmini Sriraman studied in Vidyodaya Girls Higher Secondary School, Valluvarkottam, and graduated from Stella Maris College. Holding a double M.A. in Economics and History, she also completed her M. Ed and M. Phil before setting out on a teaching career from the very school she studied. In 2001, she took over as the principal of the Hindu Senior Secondary School. Ms. Padmini, who received the CBSE Best Teacher Award for 2011 on September 4, started her career as a kindergarten teacher and has risen to the level of principal through hard work and commitment to her vocation. Her mantra for success: “Keep learning. Every day is a new challenge.”