Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stepping out of our comfort zones makes us a better leader!


I experienced very warm, beautiful years with NIRMAN. It was a second home for me. A place where I was free to explore, create, imagine,  while  being a teacher and a leader  and the time spent there, has taught  me many aspects  about professionalism. This place taught me, that for a leader to be successful, she should be enagaged with the community. He/She should be humble and at the same time, kind and patient. 


Sometimes, our experiences at work, pull us outside of our comfort zones, compelling us to confront harsh realities or challenging situations that we never imagined we’d have to deal with. This organization motivated me and gave a chance to me to push myself and discover fully who I was.

One of the best things that the organisation promotes is reading and including arts in studies. Practicing it few minutes every day makes your life enriching.


I am grateful to each and everyone in this school  for their  love and acceptance shown towards me. Thanks to the wonderful and supportive colleagues (Jaba, Harshita, Prastuti, Vandana, and Amrita) for their hand-in-hand work and for creating these priceless memories of our time in NIRMAN.


All to the best to the new team members! Keep doing the good work you are doing and making this world better for children everyday.


Khushboo Gupta worked as a teacher and manager in Vidyashram - The Southpoint School from 2010 to 2016. She is a mother to a lovely daughter who will turn 3 this year.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Habits developed in the primary years are the most important ones!

Okay, where should I start?! It was 1999 when I had joined this school. A 3-year-old boy who didn’t even know how to speak properly, was going to school. An unknown place far away from his home, which he didn’t know would become his second home. Children cry and avoid going to school, I used to cry to be able to go to school as the amount of love and care that was given to me here was tremendous.

So I started in The South Point school in Pre-nursery. To me this was totally a different world which I was unaccustomed of. Little children running everywhere and I didn’t know anyone, except that one guy who was my cousin. The first thing I remember about the school is that the moment I saw him I was so happy like I had found the best toy of the world.  My first friends and the best ones I made were then, Ankush and Harshit. For me, I had found the world in that class of mine. The first memory of the school other than this, was that office of Majumdar Sir. I didn’t know people that nice existed. He was my first teacher, my mentor and a friend to me in school at that time. 

For the first year, we were four friends: me, Shanteshwar, Ankush, Harshit. Then came Nursery and then KG and these people continued to be constants of my life.


Eventually, I made new friends. Arjun, Pallavi, Shalini, Chintamani, Rajlakshmi and Aartika. I met some of the best teachers. The best of them was Priya Ma’am. I know I shouldn’t compare teachers as each of them play a different part in your development, but what can I say? She definitely was the best. I knew I had someone in school whom I could call my mom and she always treated me like that. What I didn’t know was this was just the starting. She left and then came that three people of my life whom I think I owe everything. They were Irfana Ma’am, Nandini ma’am and Mirza Sir. It was like Priya Ma’am had never left. They became the 3 pillars of my life.

I never knew I would love dancing and theatre this much until I met them. Those, definitely, are the best years of my life. Improvised dancing, theatre and Music found a way in my life and I found myself in them.  This was totally a new world for me, and was the one I liked the most. From acting on the school stage to performing in Nagri Natak Mandali had totally changed me. I remember the play Raju ki barbadi and I was chosen as the young Raju. I remember that we were practicing a dance for the play when Mirza sir (I’m 95% sure it was Mirza sir) came to me and said, “Listen baccha, what you have been chosen for is something very important to us. You have to give your best and I’m here to guide you through it. If you ever have any difficulty, just come to me or Nandini Ma’am”. That moment is when I knew that I have people in my life who care so much about me. From Nandini Ma’am guiding us through the play to being my mom on the stage, I had found a family.

I am most grateful to Irfana ma’am that she was the one who taught me. Teaching me everything about life, in that little time I studied from her, was best.  What I am today is all because of her. Some of the best habits I got from her is reading books, speaking in English 24*7 and dedication. I don’t think I ever have had a teacher like her. I remember those journals we used to write about what we did the whole day. Till now, I’ve been writing a personal diary because old habits never die. The sleepovers we had at school, those pizzas we made, scaring each other at night and playing whole day long are some of the memories that I can never forget about. Wish we could have one now.

I left the school after completing 5th in South Point. I didn’t know how I would cope up with the world out there, but the habits Irfana ma’am had instilled in me gave me an easy ride through my new school. I made new friends, met new teachers but I haven’t still found a single teacher who is better than the trio I had in South Point.

From then to now, only one thing has changed. Now I am a Software Developer. That’s it. In my heart, I am still that small kid who went to The SouthPoint School. I must tell you I was very emotional while writing this piece. 


(Ramnarayan Singh is a Software Development Engineer and currently working with Blocknous Technologies. He graduated from National Institute of technology, Surat in 2018.)

Friday, April 17, 2020

The exposure and training for teachers here is far better than 99% of educational institutes in India.


The experience, exposure and training, for teachers here, is far better than 99% of educational institutes in India. I can say this because I, as well as, my many friends have done B.Ed. from various institutes across India, and I know the curriculum and structure of study we go through.

I resigned from my job as a Software Professional, to pursue my passion of teaching and God's plan brought me to NIRMAN. I was amazed to see their recruitment process. It was a 2 day program, loaded with so many team activities, whose meaning and relevance, I understood later. Our academics were in our report cards, but they were looking beyond it: how we connect with people, how we deal with a new situation, how much we trust people, and the list can go on.



Open House at the Southpoint campus

Initially, I followed the principles of NIRMAN, only because the Director Ma'am, Dr. Nita Kumar, has a long experience in this field. Then one fine day, I got an opportunity to go to Delhi and attend a 2 day seminar on Inclusive Classroom and other latest topics of concern and research. And I was amazed, and very proud, that we, the teachers at NIRMAN, were incorporating most of the techniques which is still a mere dream for most of the schools. Examples of this are: inclusive classrooms, multilevel teaching, designing age-appropriate curriculum, etc. 


  Mitali ma'am with her students during a sports event at the Southpoint campus

Later, when I was doing my B.Ed., I could once again feel that whatever I am studying, most of the things I have already applied. And I feel blessed to know beyond my books through my experience at NIRMAN.


Apart from this, we kept getting several trainings as well as tips from the senior members at NIRMAN, training from external faculties from India as well as abroad, experience of working along with trainees from other countries at the NIRMAN campus itself.



         basketball match

And last but not the least, teachers are given complete ownership of their classroom and students, starting from the colour of the desk in their class, seating arrangements, sometimes even flexibility in plan as per the learning levels of the students. Above all, teachers are always welcomed and given full support if they come up with some innovative ideas, that too even if the management has to go out of way to plan it.


Children taking farming tips and understanding the concept of bio gas as part of their Science tour.


I cherish every moment lived at NIRMAN, and believe in their philosophies.

Good luck NIRMAN Team!

~Mitali Gupta


Ex-teacher @ NIRMAN





Tuesday, April 14, 2020

My teachers always believed in me, even when I didn't.


I wouldn't be what I am today if my mom hadn't enrolled me in  The SouthPoint  School. My journey started at South Point when I was in class 4. For me, it was a shock the way school functioned. Soon it became a home for me. I loved to stay there more than I would at my home.

There are several moments that I cherish that took place in the South Point.

I remember that one day when I was having issues back at home, and they weren't just random issues, and Irfana ma'am came to my rescue. She saw through my sad face and called me. We both just sat under a tree and she asked me what is going on with me. I cried explaining her everything, and as a parent herself, she helped me cope up with it, she explained to me a lot of things that my parents couldn't. She understood me more than my own family. That was the moment I realized how precious this school is for me. The guidance, the support, the friendship, the care I got from the SouthPoint is something I can never repay them for.







South Point is not just any academic place, it is an overall experience to just be there, and I am lucky I got to be a part of it for a good time of my life.

Another moment from my South Point Diaries, is when we would go to the Betawar campus by bus, and we had this project of creating our museum. For collecting things for our museum, we would go on exploratory walks with Mirza Sir, and Irfana Ma'am. During one of the walks we were walking along the side of a river canal, and we asked Ma'am and Sir if we could just jump in, and they said yes! All of us, including them, just jumped right in and it was something I never expected from a school.






The best thing South Point gave me is people. The friends I made there are the ones who still stick by me no matter what. They support me, care for me, and be there when I need them the most. Even the teachers are still always there when I need guidance or their opinions or just anything they can help me out with.


When I left this school, I couldn't adapt to the society of these commercialized big schools. The diversion, the people, everything was a nightmare. I remember being in a depression for 6 months after I left the south point. I did bad in studies outside, and I had to repeat my class 11th. At that time, the south point had just started 11th and 12th. I met Nita Ma'am, scared and ashamed as hell, that I failed, I failed everybody. I'd never felt the lowest in my life till that day. But Nita ma'am unexpectedly guided me without a single judgment from her side. She just took me in again with an open heart. I thought everybody will judge me that I was a year senior and now coming back as same as them. But Nita ma'am made me believe that we are all here for you, and no one will think about you like that, and everybody loves you here. I was still a bit worried and ashamed, but to my surprise, it was like I never left. I never felt a judgment from a single person in the South point, be it all the didi who worked there, all the bhaiyas, all the teachers, and even from the people I was meeting there the first time.

As for what I am now, I am a law student. But most importantly, it is because of people of South Point that I can change my destiny, I believe in myself so much today because Irfana Ma'am, Nandini Ma'am, Mirza Sir, Nita Ma'am, and all the people from South point believed in me when I couldn't. They pointed out all my qualities when I considered myself a complete failure. It is to all the people at the south point that credit of me being successful goes to.





South Point will always be the best thing that could have happened to me.




- Aartika Saini


(Aartika passed from The Southpoint School in the year 2015. She is currently doing Bachelors degree in Law (final year) from Banaras Hindu University. She loves designing. She is also volunteering and working in the school's  publicity team.)


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Creating a reading culture in our schools, classrooms and homes



We have heard from several experts that reading consistently forms the basis of one’s literacy and a foundation for all our knowledge. Yet, when we try to coax children into reading extensively, we are often met with constraint or a general disinterest. While many children enjoy reading, many find it a challenging activity that needs to be completed somehow. The latter set of children may have apprehension towards reading when they are made to read texts that do not interest them or texts that are difficult for them to comprehend. This is why it becomes important to not just encourage children to read consistently, but to also create a reading culture in our schools and homes.




A reading culture promotes reading as an activity for pleasure and learning, not as a chore or an assigned task to be completed. It allows children to freely choose books around their interests and reading levels and does not need to have a fixed timing or location. An effective reading culture is consciously and consistently created in all spaces where children spend their time such as schools, classrooms and their homes. There are no set rules for reading and one can adapt the books, the schedule and other logistical demands based on ones need. In the following paragraphs, I have illustrated some ways in which I have tried to create a reading culture in my classroom and how anyone surrounded with children can use it for their spaces.




First, it’s of importance to understand that a reading culture creates space and time for books, above and beyond the ‘library’ periods and scheduled reading times. Hence, only library efforts or asking children to ‘just read’, are not sufficient efforts towards creating a reading culture.  While most schools now have libraries in place that houses books of all kinds for their students to read, their library visits are scheduled once a week in the time table. That’s 45 minutes of browsing books and reading, only once a week. This limited time period can hardly suffice for any reader. Children need to be surrounded by books at most times in order for them to create a relationship with them. Regular readers will agree that books have a pulse, a feeling, a sense of comfort as well as excitement. We and our children need to spend time with books in order to know them well and in turn create a desire to spend more time with them. Scheduling only a weekly short period or scheduling few minutes in a day would hardly suffice if we would like to achieve this. This is why our classrooms and our homes need to have reading nooks and corners that gradually encourage children to explore books and begin reading regularly, at their own pace and liking. I believe that it’s our classrooms and our homes that can be a meeting point for more book time.


In schools, children spend a lot of time in and around their classrooms. I have seen classrooms filled with discussions, learning, chattering and free time. So is the case with our homes. These are the spaces where children find their own ‘place’ within the school and larger society. These spaces can be transformed into a reading zone, quite quickly. I have tried it in my classroom by creating a corner where books are displayed in an inviting and accessible manner. To encourage children to spend more time reading, the books need to be selected based on their interest and placed in a manner that is welcoming. This could include short shelves for young children, easily visible books and encouragement that this home or classroom library is a free space where they can walk up to and choose and read books of their liking.

 The selection of the books needs to be done carefully too. The collection should have books that range from children’s’ interests to what they are learning in the class and outside. For example, if a child has shown an interest in some animals, try and include books about different types of animals, their habitats, hunting patterns and so on. This does not mean that books only need to be non-fiction that gives out information about relevant topics, but it is equally important to add fictional stories about the topics they are showing interest in. There should be books for pleasure reading such as stories, fairy tales, folk tales and comics. In addition to this, there should also be books for research on topics that students are familiar with and topics which are being introduced in their class. This is essentially the reference section but it could also include stories that explore the theme of nature, animals, climate change history, music, arts, science and more. This selection should be on the basis of the class level.


 In order to ensure higher accessibility of books, there should also be books for the different reading levels of the children. Often, children who are not fluent get discouraged to read books it that particular language as they find it difficult to comprehend. If a child is handed the right reading level (eg: easy vocabulary, more pictures etc.), their interest in learning about any topic is bound to continue.



In addition to creating a classroom library, it is all the more important to create readers who like to be engaged with books. Children often learn to emulate the actions of adults around them. In order for our children to like spending time with books, the adults around them (teachers, parents, siblings) need to be equally spending time reading them. Reading books individually as well as reading them aloud to children is a crucial aspect of creating a reading culture, in our homes as well as in schools. It is this reading culture that will enrich our classrooms, home and children’s lives. It will allow us and our students to comfortably pick a book and spend hours with it.


Creating a reading culture and spending quality time with books is emphasized by many educators because books create a mirror for us to look in ourselves and contemplate our experiences. At the same time, they also offer us a window to enjoy the view of other places, people and look at the world from different perspectives. It is these books that become our stepping stones to learn about the world. 


- Riya Parikh




(Riya joined Vidyashram-The Southpoint School as a full-time teacher and research assistant in the June 2019. She teaches English and Social Studies to our primary and middle school students. Second to teaching is her love for children's literature and libraries. She manages the Southpoint Libraries on campus and also works on designing for our school's events. )


Saturday, April 11, 2020

A strong tree needs strong roots.


                                                         

We always have heard that for a tree to be strong the roots need to be strong. Vidyashram-The Southpoint School is my root. Stepping in the school when I was three years old, I never realized it would be a 14 year long journey in the school with a box full of great memories. The school gave us the opportunity not only to enhance our skills curriculum wise, but we were given ample exposure to various kind of activities. We have done possibly everything one can think of! Understanding the art of theatre to performing the Indian adaptation of ‘Merchant of Venice’ in different cities and schools will always be one fine memory in my life. I still remember our Art camps in the Betawar campus where we learned, had fun and spent time with nature. Interacting with mentors from different parts of the country and world helped in expanding the horizon of our thinking process and perspective.


The teachers have made the school what it is. I am so blessed that I was able to get not one but many mentors throughout my school years. Everyone tells me someday or other, “You have a beautiful handwriting” and all I can remember is learning cursive handwriting from the former Principal (Priya Iyer). It would possibly be hard to name all of them but Priya ma’am, Mitali Ma’am, Irfana ma’am, Tanya ma’am, Mamta ma’am are few teachers who are not only my teachers, but my ‘go to people’ till date, and who inspire me to do better. It is beautiful how the school has not restricted the student-teacher relation only till studies. They help you be a better version every possible way.



After passing from the school, while I was pursing my Bachelor’s degree, I was awarded with the Miss Fresher’s title and later I led the Student Council as the Head. Deep down me, I knew that the confidence to speak, express my opinions, and be creative were a few of the many things that I inculcated from my school. Soon, I will be completing my Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication. I would be starting a new journey altogether, but when I look back, I am glad that I was part of this school. I can never be grateful enough for all that I was handed by this place and I just wish my school keeps rising high!

Love,
Shivani Vishwakarma


Shivani Vishwakarma completed her schooling from Vidyasram- The Southpoint School and passed  with a very high percentage in the year 2015. She is pursuing her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from The Maharaja Sayajirao Univeristy of Baroda, Gujarat, and she is currently interning with Ogilvy and Mather, Mumbai.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

This school has made me who I am today.


South Point! When I hear this name, I am able to imagine myself, wearing that white tunic, roaming around in the whole school. This school has made me who I am today. I find it very difficult to pen down my experiences, because all the memories and all the moments from that place are so special, that I get overwhelmed when I start thinking of them. 

Ever since I entered that place, at the age of 6, I met an environment no different from home. I got teachers, with whom you could share everything about life. I learnt the importance of expressing emotions. The importance of  being empathetic and kind! When I see people around me, I find most of them restricted within themselves, not able to express, not finding it right to express. But this was the first thing that I was ever taught in my school. When we kids, used to make fun of each other, or tease each other for liking a classmate of the opposite gender, I remember Priya ma'am coming to us and telling us, we all love each other and there is nothing to laugh at or feel ashamed of. And then we were told to say ‘I love you’ to each other, each one of us. That is when I learnt that love is not an act. It is a nature. 

We had students from different countries, students with special needs, and students from different parts of the society. But we all studied together. We were taught how to grow without competition, how to study to learn, and not only to get marks. 

The two teachers who shaped me into who I am, have been Irfana ma'am and Mirza sir. They have given me so much  love that I can never think of passing on anything else but love, to others. They have been there with me through my thick and thin. And I cannot imagine my life without having them around. 

Nandini ma'am, Kinshuk sir and Kaushika ma'am.. they have taught me a lot many things and that too so simply that I still miss those Maths and Social Science classes. Those worksheets, 'golgappe waali aunty', 'sewage treatment plant', everything has been so so amazing. 

Mamta ma'am, has another special place in my heart. She always motivated me to perform better and believed in me. I still remember all the things she told me before I left the school. 

I don't want to miss a single name among the teachers who have been there with us, Abha ma'am, Archana ma'am, Ashutosh sir, Menka ma'am, Amrita ma'am, Brijesh sir, Nawal sir, Pravesh sir, Shilpi ma'am, Sunita ma'am, PK ma'am, Piali ma'am, Deblina ma'am, Prastuti ma'am, Evan sir, Anne ma'am, Sandy ma'am, Swati ma'am and whoever I happen to miss here.

From that white tunic to the white coat, whatever I have grown to become, a large part of it is because of this place, and the people I met here. 

- Dr. Pallavi Tripathi, MBBS. Currently doing internship at AIIMS Patna,
Studied in  Vidyashram -The South Point  School till class 8th, passed in the year 2009. 



Saturday, April 4, 2020

NIRMAN- AS A FAMILY



‘NIRMAN’ as the name indicates, it creates morality, understanding and also a sense of affinity, not only in teachers, but in everyone who are in NIRMAN.
I had joined Vidyashram-The Southpoint School, in Oct. 2015. I had worked in three schools before, but working here is totally different.  Every day, I feel that I am learning. I didn't know choreography or any dancing before, I didn't have any idea of writing or directing drama, but I learnt all of that through teachers’ trainings conducted by Nita ma’am and my seniors, and I feel content with all my work and my learning.


 The best thing is, that we’re not bound with one book or exercise of the chapters ONLY.  We go beyond the textbooks. We create questions and the students are encouraged to frame their own questions. Students aren’t bound to learn some fix paragraphs as answers.  This increases our work but gives more satisfaction too. This shows how well they understand and also expands their imagination.
 NIRMAN gives us chance to understand each and every student, and sometimes, I can say confidently, that I know my students more than their parents. We do a lot of work with the students, physical and mental. We give them different topics to write on, by this they open up, they get chance to express themselves.  We observe their each activity, behaviour, changes etc. We also hold meetings with teachers, who all teach in my class. We discuss about students, his/her development, needs, growth, skills, interests etc. Based on our observation and discussion, we make a comprehensive plan to tackle any behavioural problems, if they have any. After every term, we make academic reports of each student that includes reading, writing, behaviour, regularity, any problem, and any interests, this report can be used by any new teacher who will be teaching that class.
In this school, teaching techniques are research based. We make teaching plans according to the level of each student, which is why here I get the chance to learn everyday. Always we think for new ideas to make our topics more interesting, informative and enjoyable as well.


NIRMAN has changed me in many ways. We are always encouraged to find the reasons of any and every wrong behaviour of other adults around us, and not to blame anyone for it. We are like a family here and this is not to do with adults only but all children who study here. Here I Iearnt that each individual deserves to be treated respectfully and they cannot be discriminated on any basis.  We all are doing our duties /work, only the levels are different. This sense, we try to develop in our students too. It is very nice that every student grows with it and there is a sense of integration in every student. This sense, I haven’t seen before, in any other organisation.  All credit goes to our Director and mentor, Nita ma'am. She has developed a culture in this organisation and that reflects in us.
I have been teaching here Science and E.V.S., from Class III to Class IX , and the most distinguishing aspect of this school is, that students still want to stay here after their term is over . They like this place more than their home. They are accepted here whole-heartedly and given a chance to grow fully and be their best selves.
     Connecting with NIRMAN, by any how, as a teacher or a student, is an unforgettable experience for one’s lifetime, this I can say, by my experience here, of so many years. Many of our ex students come and share that they miss this school a lot. In their new school nobody is like The Southpoint, nobody wants to know their views and their perspectives. They miss this school as if they left their family. Though our school is upto Xth only, every year pass out students of 10th request to run 10+2 also.
  NIRMAN is not a school only, but a family for everyone who is working here or studying here.

By,
Pragya
Teacher.


Class V with her Class teacher, Pragya maam!