The belief that any change starts at home is rooted in the understanding that the family unit is the foundational building block of society.
The family is the primary social environment in which individuals grow, learn, and develop. It is within the family that values, attitudes, and behaviours are initially formed. Children observe and absorb the actions and attitudes of their parents and siblings, which greatly shape their own perspectives and behaviours. As a result, the home environment plays a significant role in shaping individuals’ values and beliefs.
Fostering noble values at home is crucial for the moral and ethical development of children. Parents have a significant role in shaping their children’s character and guiding them towards integrity, empathy, and responsibility. Parents can foster noble values by being role models. Children learn by observing their parents’ behaviour, so it’s important to consistently demonstrate honesty, kindness, respect, and compassion in our own actions and words.
Kinnari Shah, Head of School at D Y Patil International School, Worli, a prominent name in the education industry, was influenced by the lively environment at her home since childhood.
Growing Up in a Socially Productive Environment
Kinnari was born and brought up in India and has studied in the conventional education system. The progressive mindset of her parents and siblings encouraged Kinnari to read literature and explore the world beyond textbooks. Both her parents have remained educators and persuaded all the kids at home to be socially productive and engage in intellectual activities.
The environment at her home was always very stimulating, and her parents would often discuss the history and international politics, and economics with Kinnari and her siblings. This got them naturally inquisitive towards what was happening beyond their usual realm, and they explored the world from various perspectives.
After completing graduation, Kinnari pursued a Diploma in Computers Management, which was followed by the Masters programme. While she was still studying, her teacher encouraged her to take up a teaching assignment at Mumbai University. According to her, Kinnari’s first teaching job was satisfying, and this encouraged her to make a career in the education sector.
Expanding Indian Educational Landscape
As a student, Kinnari experienced that the national curricula have some limitations in terms of assessments and for students with varying learning needs. Also, it was not very flexible to accommodate the different learning interests of the students. Hence, when she entered the world of international education, she realized that one could make the learning journey a joyful experience for the students.
Kinnari has taught Cambridge and International Baccalaureate curricula for close to two decades. She also works with the IB office as Diploma Programme Consultant that helps new schools in getting authorized to offer IB programmes; she is also an IB Evaluation Leader, Workshop Leader, Examiner, and Assessment Moderator.
Significant Strides in the Industry
Engaging herself with young children remains the most satisfying part of Kinnari’s job. While she started teaching international curriculum as a subject teacher and a homeroom teacher, her passion for social service attracted her to the CAS programme of IBDP, and thus she became CAS Coordinator, eventually over a period of time, she worked as IBDP Coordinator, Vice Principal and now since the last few years as Head of School.
Meeting Standard Educational Practices
As an IB educator, Kinnari’s learning has never stopped. Training is an imperative part of her work life. IB requires the heads to be updated with the latest development in the education sector and the impact of technology on the teaching and learning process.
She is also appointed by the IB as an Evaluation Leader to various schools to study their programme and know if they are meeting the IB standards and practices as required. This exercise itself is a huge learning opportunity for her as it allows her to interact with school leaders from across the globe and studies their school processes.
Ensuring a Safer Learning Environment
Promoting student voice and choice and student agency in the school keeps Kinnari’s students actively engaged in their learning journey. She has successfully created a happy and safe learning environment for the students at the school, and she encourages every child to do their best. At the school, she celebrates not just the academic but even the non-academic achievements of students.
Inclusion of Parents in the Learning Process
It is necessary to build strong partnerships with the parents to provide the right and authentic support for every child’s learning needs. It is challenging when the parents do not share the vision of the school and become grades driven.
Kinnari interacts formally and informally with the parents and makes an attempt to educate them about keeping the focus on the overall well-being of the students and not just determining the success of every child in terms of grades.
Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Technology
D Y Patil International School, Worli, has heavily invested in various software and platforms that would enhance teaching and learning at the school. The school makes use of Cubetto from Nursery to introduce coding programmes to the students.
There are interactive platforms like Robogarden used for studying robotics. The school also uses ‘Step and Learn,’ a software that makes the whole floor interactive and makes every learner an active participant in the learning process. For higher grades, too, the school uses Managebac and Google Classroom daily.
Empathetic Educational Leader
Kinnari believes that a leader should be in a position to think and take decisions that are beneficial to the larger community. Hence, problem-solving skills and decision-making skills are essential for a leader to have. She believes that as an educational leader, one should also possess strong communication skills as well as the ability to empathize with others’ social and emotional needs.
Kinnari Shah does not believe in the ‘one size fits all’ approach. The school makes differentiation not only in the service that is the assessments but also in the process- in the daily teaching and learning in the classroom. Every single teacher goes through a series of training to know how to differentiate and how to identify the varying needs of every learner that they take care of.
Striving with the Same Passion in the Future
Kinnari has been awarded the Best Leadership Icon Award in the Year 2020 by the then Governor of Maharashtra. She has received numerous awards like these for her work.
Her school is expanding and growing in strength. It is introducing a new IB programme for the students of Gr. 11 and 12, an IB Career-related Programme. Its students of Gr. 10 will have a choice of three programmes to study after their Gr. 10 i.e. Cambridge A Levels, IB Diploma Programme and IB career-related programme. On an ongoing basis, the school intends to monitor the professional development and mental well-being programme for all stakeholders.