This National Teachers Awardee donated her prize money for community library

Jyoti Arora, Principal, Mount Abu Public School, is our Amazing Teacher this week. She won the National Teachers Award earlier this month.

Jyoti Arora, Principal, Mount Abu Public School, Delhi, is a passionate teacher and firmly believes that people should become teachers only when their passion and a sense of responsibility for this profession are very high. Besides being a successful educator and an administrator, she is also pursuing Phd in Education. Read on to know more about her…

 What prompted you to take teaching as a career?

My love and passion for children. I always wanted to contribute to the society. I thought the best way to do this is by joining the education field. If you really want to serve the society, I think, education is the best medium. Also, my love for my children. I always enjoy their smile, achievements, and inquisitiveness. I love when they come with their queries and doubts. The challenges that they bring before me, that gives me more strength to grow and learn further. I have learnt a lot from my students. Whatever I am today is because of them.

Your relationship with your work

I love children and have always enjoyed my work. Whatever I have done, I have done with full enjoyment and passion. That’s why I was able to do work 24X7.

I feel passion is important. I always tell my children that whatever you do, do it with complete passion. Even if it is preparing tea, do it with passion, and then see how it turns out to be the best cup of tea.

Teachers and Covid-19

Ever since this lockdown, teachers have really overworked. We did this because we really wanted that learning should continue. And for this, extra efforts were needed. Orientation and training were needed. We were attending all those trainings classes. Lessons learnt while training were then implemented in our classes with our students the next day. Teachers have worked very hard and they deserve the title of corona warriors.

The requirement was such that we wanted to orient our parents, students and teachers. As head of the school, it was huge responsibility. With regards to continuation of learning process, it was like reaching to every stakeholder of the school, giving them full training and then getting them into this system. Even though we are a Microsoft Showcase School, and have been using technology from past 3.5 years, but online classes was a whole new ballgame. It required complete orientation and adoption of technology everywhere. I am happy that we managed to do that in a very successful manner. Teachers too enjoyed learning and experimenting with students.

I thought this is the best time for children to get engaged into activities and programmes which allow them to learn life skills. Life skills cannot be taught, it can be imbibed only through experience. We considered this time as the best time to practice these skills, to talk more about it.

Challenges

Besides online teaching, other challenges were dealing with the mental and emotional well-being of our students. During this lockdown, they were completely detached from their school system and friends, sitting at home. How to keep them mentally and emotionally fit during this time was a big challenge. We conducted a very successful webinar with Dr Jitendra Nagpal wherein he addressed this issue. It was a very fun kind of learning session. We also created posters which read – If you are feeling, lonely, if you are feeling sad, these are the ways that you can engage yourself… Plus, we created a number of videos for students, may be around 200-300 videos, for continuation of learning and to address all kinds of challenges which we could foresee.

As a school leader, I felt that lockdown is the best time to connect our students to social initiatives, to make them understand how they and their contribution is important in a society. This was the time when everybody was talking about caring for others, taking care of each other. We initiated many new initiatives like making sanitizer at home using the aloe-vera and distributing it among others, making cloth masks and encouraging kids to distribute them to the vegetable sellers/ fruit sellers in their area.

We also tried to engage them in a variety of activities like astronomy classes. These kinds of classes helped to divert their attention from regular studies. It was a very big challenge to keep students involved and engaged. Variety of programmes were introduced so that children do not get bored with our activities. We introduced our own YouTube channel. The whole idea was keeping children involved, engaged and address their social, emotional and mental well-being.

How are you keeping your teachers motivated?

Teachers need a lot of motivation and encouragement. Back-to-back orientations, trainings, meetings, informing them about all new things/ webinars happening around us and motivating them to participate in webinars etc. I am also trying to create opportunities for teachers to learn and grow. I always feel that teaching is a very noble profession and full of challenges. I really want my teachers should be in a habit of dealing with challenges. Because ultimately, all of us together can make a difference. It’s not just one person in the system. We also organise regular discussion sessions wherein teachers share their concerns, opinions etc.

Teachers who have worked with passion and responsibility are always remembered and respected by students

Appreciation from Parents

The kind of appreciation that we have received from our parents is overwhelming. They appreciated our hard work, love and care that we have shown towards our students during this pandemic. In my 27 years of career, I have never received as many mails of appreciation as I received this year.

School Fees – Is that a problem for your school as well?

We are in a tough situation. All our funds have exhausted. We are really left with no money. Long before government ordered in this direction, we gave the flexibility to all our parents to pay only the tuition fees. It is, however, painful when parents don’t pay tuition fees also. The situation is very difficult to handle. We have so many other expenses of school to take care of. Tuition fees, at least, helps us pay salaries of teachers as well as support staff members.

How do you deal with cyber abuse?

We sensed this problem early on. Hence, we started orientation programmes, invited cyber experts to talk to our students. Until children understand the consequences of their actions, they won’t take things seriously. We created awareness about cyber safety. This did have a huge impact. Yes, we have to keep a check on students. But nothing serious has happened as of now at our school.

Schools Re-opening

We always go by the guidelines of the authorities and the consent of our parents. One can only reopen school in this time after winning the confidence of parents. We floated the consent form to our parents to know their views. Majority didn’t want school to reopen.

Views about NEP

NEP appears very progressive and futuristic. The practical component of any subject is very important. And learning by doing things is always full of enjoyment as the retention is quite high. It’s really good that there is a clear thrust to change the approach from rote learning to practical. That will give better understanding to children. There’s also focus on skill development. I think that’s very good and a positive sign for future generation.

Teacher training skills need to be upgraded to meet future requirements. NEP addresses that issue. It opens up a lot of scope for teachers with respect to their teaching techniques. Teacher training courses will also improve.

Now that you have won the National Award, what next?

I want to devote myself to the community, esp in the rural areas. That’s my passion. I want to work with schools in village areas, and help them improve their quality. The whole idea is to give something to the society.

With my award money, I have announced a community library. I am in the process of purchasing books, and setting up the library. I received Rs 50,000 as prize money along with books worth Rs 11,000. I donated all these books and award money to my community library. In past too, whenever I have received money against any award or achievement, I have always donated it to the PM relief fund. I have never spent this money for personal use. Since, this time, I had already donated money to PM Cares (corona pandemic), I felt I should spend this money on setting up the community library so that children living in nearby slums can come here during evenings and read some good books. It is my own initiative. I have received a great response from educators for the same.

I have named it Akshra Community Library. We aim to inaugurate this library on the first navratra.

READ ABOUT OTHER AMAZING TEACHERS HERE

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