Being a teacher in today’s world is a challenging task. Though most of the teachers you come across in life are not teachers by choice. The transition shift in the modern business world has left one of the noblest professions in the world ignored by the youngsters.
The education sector is in dire need of dedicated teachers. Teachers who choose to be educators can change and bring a significant change in the educational space. For this edition of The Knowledge Review, we sought to find such educators who catered to the industry by choice and not by destiny.
We came across Neha Sharma, the Principal of G D Goenka Public School Rajnagar Extn, Ghaziabad, on our quest. She is one such personality who chose to be an educator and be a torchbearer for today’s youth. In an interview with the Knowledge Review, she shared her journey through this modern education sector and highlighted some of the most interesting facts about the education space.
Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
Please tell us about your journey throughout the education sector right from the beginning of your career.
I am an educator by choice. The decision was simple and easy at the crucial point of choosing the career and enrolling for an MBA or B.Ed. Yes, and you get no points for guessing my choice. I joined the Army School, Mathura, immediately after my last B.Ed paper in the year 2003. Commuting early from Agra to Mathura every day was never an issue for me, but when I got an opportunity to work in my city of residence, I quickly grabbed it. It has been a satisfying and enriching journey so far. Though I took a detour and joined Government Job in the Education sector itself, my calling pulled me back to the happy haven of school, and I am sure now it will be happily ever after.
What inspired you to step into the education industry? Who were your role models growing up?
My teachers! Some of my teachers truly inspired me, and today, I owe all my success (if I may be allowed to call myself successful) to their mentorship. The best part is they are still a significant part of my life, and I know I can reach out to them whenever needed. My mother and father have also been my role models. My mother, a retired education officer, has always been my pillar of strength and support. She is an Iron Lady in the true sense, and I attribute my grit and steel to her. My father, an upright and ethical retired officer from the higher judiciary, inspired me to be honest in my personal and professional life. He has been a compassionate and doting father. My parents gave me and my siblings complete agency to make life choices and taught us to take responsibility and courageously face the consequences of our choices.
Tell us about your esteemed institute and its mission, vision, and core values.
The vision of my school is to build entrepreneurial leaders for tomorrow. We try to provide them various opportunities to instil the values of truth and honesty in action and thoughts. We as a school are trying to nurture our students as compassionate, empathetic, responsible and respectful citizens.
What are the priorities of your institute in terms of course objectives and learning outcomes?
We provide authentic experiential learning opportunities to our students with a strong focus on integrating arts and sports seamlessly into their learning experiences. The teachers as co-learners, try their best to help every child reach their optimum potential. We have an open environment in our school where failures are celebrated equally to successes, and feedback is not given but invited.
Kindly share your views regarding interactive, online educational content and how it is redefining the ways we learn.
It is always better to stay in tune with the changing times. We have with us the digital natives, and for them, online experiences are part of their real-world right from the day they are born. If we prepare our children for the VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous), the appropriate use of online learning will help them become lifelong learners and redefine their experiences through VUCA 2.0 (Vision, Understanding, Courage, and Adaptability). Here I strongly feel that the 21st Century Skills esp. Critical & Creative thinking, ICT, and Media literacy must be an essential part of every child’s learning repertoire as we amplify our connection with interactive, online educational environments.
What are the biggest challenges and struggles faced by educators in general?
Educators face challenges like doing justice to extensive curriculum, time management, parental demands (and sometimes apathy). Over and above, educators in our country are absolutely underpaid and undervalued! But despite this, I have always believed that educators have some superpowers for sure. Even after all the challenges they face, they put in their best to make every learning experience worthwhile for their students!
Education is considered a tool of empowerment. What efforts do you and the institution take to ensure that education is provided to those who need it?
We are an inclusive school, and this actually may not be seen as tangibly as it can be experienced intangibly. We don’t just believe in providing every child with equal learning opportunities, but the entire team works consciously towards it.
Kindly mention any of your awards, accolades, and accreditations.
I have received few recognitions and awards for my work, but none can match the love and respect from my current and former students and team. I even got to share my teaching journey experiences as a speaker at the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Kyoto, Japan, hosted by UNODC and UNESCO and at UNESCO and UNODC Regional Dialogue on Engaging youth for education and justice in South Asia.
What advice can you give to those who want to step into the field of education?
Today more than ever, it is becoming clear that education is so much more than the four Rs – reading, writing, arithmetic, reasoning. Every true educator would wish for children to be resilient, to be passionate, ready to take risks, problem-solve and think critically, look at things differently, work independently and with others, care and want to give back to their community, persevere, have integrity, self-respect, and enjoy their life and work. The fundamental goals of education today are to equip a child with the life skills essential to meet the challenges of everyday life. I feel confident that I can provide an environment conducive to the growth and development of a child in my school. It is a happy school that puts children first! Don’t we need every school to be like this? So, be an educator who can make a difference as every child deserves a champion.
Please share what lies ahead for you and your institution in the near future.
We know that the world out there is full of issues and crises! We as a school believe that we don’t have to prepare our children to live in this dysfunctional world, where value systems have distorted, and exposure to negative influences has become a norm. Instead, we prepare them so that they can make this place normal, better, and more liveable! For this, our school, today and tomorrow, will strive to foster for our children a conducive learning environment built on the bedrock of trust, love, respect, compassion, and empathy! I know it is a tall order, but as a school, it is our responsibility to prepare our children to heal the world that our generation has messed up – emotionally, environmentally, mentally, and spiritually, which we always will tirelessly!