CLASSROOM DYNAMICS Q & A
Dr Anita Pant Sharma, Principal, Delhi Public School, Bhiwani, holds a PhD degree in Applied Arts, MA in Fine Arts and English, B Ed, M Ed and a Certificate in German language. She has held the position of head of school since 2007 in a number of reputed schools in the country. She is efficient in school administration & management, staff orientation, academic counselling, event management, organizing seminars and workshops. She is also an artist and a poet of repute.
In recognition of her talents and abilities she has been designated for various assignments of responsibility by the CBSE. She has had international exposure to education in countries like Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore, France, etc.
Uma Ramesh, Head Curriculum – Lakshmi Vidya Sangham, a young spirited fresher, entered the LVS institution three decades ago as a teacher of the primary level. Now she is a confident and promising leader of all the LVS schools.
Her passion for teaching Maths is boundless and is proven across the student community. She gained the ability to handle teachers and share her subject competency through the post of the Academic Supervisor of the middle level of TVSMHSS. Active participation in Quality Circles has enabled her to travel across nations and be a part of international conventions.
As the Principal of TVS Matric School, she took the school to great heights through her open attitude for learning and her love for children. As the Project Team Head she has been able to spread her learning to the outside world. Heading the LVS Schools as the Head of the Curriculum department, she strives to enhance the learning climate of the LVS institutions and ensure 21st century learning and skills for each and every child of all schools.
What is classroom dynamics all about?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: Classroom dynamic has a range of different ways to cover a topic with effectiveness and appeal. A dynamic classroom has a range of teaching approaches such as experiential learning or team work to engage students and to make learning more meaningful. A dynamic class room has a balance of static and interactive elements allowing some time for individual work and cooperation, and use of various tools and resources such as apps and games, everyday objects, magazines, books and toys to appeal to students’ needs and preferences. The teacher also uses various teaching approaches such as hands-on activities, projects, team work and outings to motivate the students further. In a dynamic classroom children do not get bored and instead enjoy and look forward to the classes.
Uma Ramesh: Classroom dynamics is about the emotional interaction, language interaction, (communication), planning, learning, ground rules, cooperative learning through balanced blend of techniques, activities and materials for a smooth learning process.
How can classroom dynamics prepare a conducive environment for learning?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: Classroom dynamics is not only about learning and teaching, but also to
prepare a conducive learning environment. A teacher needs to focus on the social aspects of children, such as managing their behaviours, generating interest, managing their stress and reaction to tensions, parental and peer pressure. In other words, in addition to our competences of content knowledge and teaching skills, we need to inculcate cooperative skills and attitudes in our students.
Uma Ramesh: Classroom dynamics is a shared responsibility of teacher and taught. To provide scope for learning from mistakes and encouraging feedback is an important trait of classroom dynamics. The classroom transaction processes lead from the ‘known to the unknown’. The ownership of learning is with the individual.
How can a teacher upgrade her skills vis a vis classroom dynamics?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: There is no one size that fits all. To a large extent, a classroom dynamic is a product of its own context as defined both internally by the uniqueness of its children, and externally in the cultural settings of the institution and the society in which it is located. Still a teacher can upgrade herself by working on these common features and characteristics for useful classroom dynamics such as
1. Cohesiveness of the class
2. Variety of interaction within a class.
3. The amount of empathy class members have for each other.
Uma Ramesh: The reward for a teacher is to see the students happy to attend the class and comfortable with asking as many questions as they need by creating a learning environment that facilitates each style or mode of learning. In the process of setting class room dynamics the skills of communication, negotiation, emotional intelligence, with commitment, dedication and being an ideal learner will naturally be upgraded.
How can classroom dynamics be used to the advantage of differently-abled children in the school?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: Activity focussed classroom dynamics helps differently- abled children in engaging and learning. Group work helps them to learn effectively with others and they can be monitored by peers during activities which increases their faith in school and builds their confidence.
Uma Ramesh: There will be a special provision to attend to the need of differently – abled students. Classrooms with crowded environments to be arranged in a way to observe each individual child with verbal exchanges that addresses understanding, Time driven tasks to be in place to avoid waiting or being interrupted. During activities checking on the students’ performance, probing students’ understanding, providing constructive feedback, monitoring individual progress to be the focus areas.
Can a teacher create positive classroom learning environment in a classroom through classroom dynamics?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: Yes, a teacher can create a positive classroom learning environment by using these common effective classroom dynamics such as – the teacher must connect lessons to real life; she must use students interests; she must teach students self monitoring skills; she must present information in multiple formats; she must group students; she must allow students to set the pace and try homework menus (means – give choice in homework according to their learning abilities rather than giving one home work to all.)
Uma Ramesh: Teaching the students how to ask questions, involving students in decision making processes relating to classroom dynamics, giving equal opportunities to students, fine tuning and modifications in the methodologies will contribute to productive learning environment. Ensure the availability of different learning stations in the classroom.
What is unique about the classroom culture in your school?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: We believe in shared experiences, values and objectives. Our teachers foster this awareness with activities and use them to enhance learning. We try to develop a sense of community within a class. We have flexible approach to have more inclusive and participative climate. Successful group activities in class involve all the children in order to support each other and thus enhance empathy in students for each other.
Uma Ramesh: Freedom is provided to students to express their views and ideas in the teaching-learning process. Ground rules are framed by the students for their own class. An opportunity for peer learning that matches with the pace of learning is ensured. Mistakes committed by students are viewed as an opportunity for learning. Emotional needs of students are constantly addressed.
Can experiential and digital learning make learning more meaningful and interesting in the classroom?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: Yes, in this digital age experiential learning such as laboratory-based, workshop-based, apprenticeship-based, problem-based, case-based, project-based, community- based learning is an essential part of teaching for a 21st century global learner. It enables students to move from the concrete to the abstract. It helps students to develop skills in analytical thinking and reflecting judgment by practical work, by reading and discussing complex real life scenarios.
Uma Ramesh: Yes. Learning through experience promotes better construction of concept understanding with extraordinary informal experiences. That leads the learner to engage emotionally, socially, physically combined with increased attention. This approach leads to internalizing concepts and its field of application. Learners, who engage in direct experience and focused reflection will construct knowledge, develop skills and contextualize the meaning of the experience.
Which is the most effective learning style used by the faculty in your school?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: All four learning styles – visual, auditory, reading and writing and kinesthetic with multiple intelligence are used according to the need and requirement of the lesson and the learner.
Uma Ramesh: To mention a few – Self directed learning, Problem solving approach, Learner centric process, Differentiated approach, Inquiry based learning and Personalized learning programmes are used by our faculty.
Intuitive, verbal, reflective approaches are being used to address the different learning styles of students (sensory, visual and active). A holistic and systematic approach is also used to see the big picture first and then other details are attended to.
Every student learns differently. How do you keep all the students engaged in the classroom so that effective learning takes place?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: Each student has his own interests and talents, so each classroom is flexible enough to accommodate the individuality of its students. Students are motivated when they feel that the classroom dynamics focus on their goals and interests. A behavioural code of conduct is followed in each class. We encourage cooperative learning, working in pairs and small groups. The students help each other as well as work and reflect together.
Uma Ramesh: Plurality in teaching, making lessons interactive, discovering new things together, science corners, mini lessons, relating contents with real world connections, allowing students to be creative, able to understand why a mistake is made, using technology, peer teaching, mentors, etc – these strategies are used to keep the class interesting and engaged. The focus of the teachers should reflect on backward design approach, multiple teaching methods (using discussion, group work, hands on activities).
What do you consider more important for your students – marks on the result sheet or 21st century skills?
Dr Anita Pant Sharma: We are striving hard to make our students ‘global citizens’ who have to be equipped with 21st century skills. We need to produce good human beings ready to face new global challenges with humanity and empathy. Marks do not matter for any child now as many new avenues and professional opportunities are open globally where your attitude and personal traits are judged not your percentage.
Uma Ramesh: Two things in education are important ie domain knowledge and soft skills as each compliments the other. Explore and enjoy should be the theme that will make a huge difference in the lives of students.