Changing perspectives- Final entry for EDS 103

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I am a teacher initiated by accident and now by choice. I have been in this wonderful profession for the last 9 years. Even though these nine years have gone down well and I have matured as a teacher, I did feel the need of taking up an educational course (I do not have a degree in education). So I joined PTC and this is (hopefully) my last trimester here.

Another trimester is coming to an end and now when I look back, I can see all the things that I have learned, all my learning engagements that have got validation through various theories and my various misconceptions getting cleared.

It has been a tiring 3 month long journey, with bouts of inspiration intertwined with the feeling of being left behind.

Before this course, I did not know that the various things that I do in my class and the the process of my students’ learning have complicated scientific names :-). This course has taught me, how my students think, how does their memory works for them, how should I organize my lesson so that my students get the best out of it,etc.

Few things that really stand out for me at the end of this course are:

  • Primacy-recency effect= the knowledge of this is helping me in organizing my lessons so that my students are able to learn more. Now, I ensure that the key parts of my lessons are explained in the beginning when the student focus is at the peak and this being followed by review and practice.
  • use of reinforcement- these tools can be effectively used for either enhancing a certain behavior or acting as a deterrent.
  • Sensory,working and long term memory- knowledge of this for the learners can help them in segregating the useful from the chaff and putting it into the long term memory for later use.
  • MKO- how the students can learn not only from their teachers/parents/other adults but also from their peers who might know more then them.

This course has made me a better learner and hopefully a more informed and a better armed teacher. My limits were stretched, especially while working for Asst 2 and the Final Exams. This course has not only made me more resilient but also taught me the importance of time and self management. All these skills are crucial for a teacher 🙂

May I continue to be an enthusiastic (and a more organised) learner and continue to inspire my students to be hungry for learning. Amen 🙂


Reflections on Module 3.4- What kind of learner am I?

What kind of learner am I?

An important question but difficult to answer. Never thought about it. I have always been a keen learner, usually for the content that interests me. The click for me is my interest in it. If I am interested, I will go to great lengths to learn about it, try out different methods, make errors and yet try again, find out information from others, dig in and learn more.

There is a balance between desiring a MKO and constructing own understanding. In my case, I would say, the choice would depend on how much do I understand the content. For eg, since I am interested in global issues, history, and environmental issues, I try to study and learn independently. But, if it has to do with finance, a MKO will be useful for me . Here again, I don’t want someone to spoon feed to me , but rather explain to me patiently.

I have been educated in the traditional system where the teachers taught, we learned. There was not much scope or opportunities to learn with peers, in groups. There was not much of a variety in teaching techniques. Teacher as MKO was present, scaffolding was provided but very often, teachers would find it easy to give out answers instead of pushing us to discover it on our own. Only learners who got good scores were considered to be good. Only way, we could demonstrate our learning was through tests/exams. So anyone, who was not good with cramming and/or writing skills would not be able to do well.

I am happy to realize that various things that I have learned in these modules are what I apply inside my classroom. I scaffold the content depending on the ability level of the student. Making connections of the content with real life is very crucial for my students to understand and remember. Our curriculum allows us lot of freedom to teach and I use various techniques in the classroom.

I often make use of MI so that my students are comfortable and are able to learn with their strengths. But occasionally, I also challenge them to work with their weakest MI so that they are able to come out of their comfort zone.

These modules have taught me a lot of new things and for many others, have given me the assurance that what I ma n doing in my teaching practice is correct and beneficial for my students.

Reflections on Module 3.3 – my childhood memories & connection between learning and the real world

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A person with very sharp memory is often compared with a computer. It is true that a computer is able to process information very quickly;however, I would not like my brain to be replaced by a computer because there are lot of other things that my brain can do, like making connections.  Computers rely on software programmers to feed information in them, however, human brain is capable of solving even highly complex problems without computer assistance.

Looking back at my childhood memories, my remotest memories is of the time when I was 2 years old. It didn’t take me long to retrieve these memories as I often think about them. I have vivid memories of that house, few incidents that had happened there, my kitchen garden,etc. Sometimes, I am really surprised that how come, I can remember even the smallest details of that house 🙂

After that, I clearly remember the name of my 1st school, my best friend then but I have a very hazy memory of my 1st teacher and my classroom.

After my pre-school, I entered an elementary school and studied there for 12 years and graduated after High School. These 12 years are printed on my mind- my teachers, my friends, the physical structure of the school…..This has happened because I have constantly retrieved these memories- every time, I visit my hometown (annually), I pass by my school and remember the fond memories, my school friends are still my closest buddies and I am in touch with my school through FB. All these have consolidated those memories and even though, it has been more than 20 years, since I have graduated from there, the memories are fresh and crystal clear.

Anything that we retrieve regularly makes our memories stronger of those events.  If I can make connections that other things, again, I can remember things. For eg, names of people. Our personal predisposition towards things/topics also affect retrieval. For eg, I am not comfortable with numbers. No matter, how much I try, I can’t remember data. I can explain things, reasons,etc, but am never able to support my reason with numbers 😦

Cramming has an adverse affect on our memory. Making connections, understanding the relevance of the content and interest in it helps in remembering. If I am interested in something and believe that it is important for me, I will be able to remember it even after the exam is over, but if I have studied something only for the sake of exams, I will not be able to retrieve it well after the exams.

Making connections is has a big place in today’s education system. I can say this at least for IB curriculum. When I teach my students, I try to make connections with their real life and how that content will be useful for them. This will help them in understanding and remembering it for longer. I don’t remember most of the math and science learned in school as I have never used those things in my real life.

Reflections on Social Learning Theories- Role Models/Mentors in my Life

My Models and Mentors

I have been blessed with many role-models and mentors through every stage of my life.  This process of learning from others started from childhood, when my parents became my 1st role-models (and still are). This was followed by being taught by excellent teachers who motivated and guided me to do better. My college days brought to fore some fantastic professors whose in depth knowledge of the subject and the passion for it made learning a lot easier for us. Numerous close friends have been role-models through their commitment and true friendship. Working life gave more opportunities to learn from people who excelled in their work area and who guided my path.

Since so many people have been responsible for molding me, both in personal and professional life, it is difficult to mention the contribution of just a few. But since, I am required to mention a few, here they are (they are mentioned in the order that they came into my life and not necessarily according to their contribution. Off course, this does not apply on my parents. I am here because of them 🙂 :

Role Models and Mentors Their Contributions
1.      Dad I learned the value of honesty from him.

My love for reading and keeping myself abreast with the current affairs comes from him. other has taught me the value of selflessly giving to your family.

2.      Mom I learned to be neat and organised just like her. Everything in her house has a place and she can tell you where exactly you can find a particular object. I am proud to say the same about my house (at least for most of the items)

My love for cooking (though highly belated) is thanks to my mom. She loves to watch cookery shows on TV and wen her health permits, treats her family with delicacies.

3.      Mrs. Laxmi Singh She was my history teacher during High School. I still remember the way she taught even a dry subject like History with such enthusiasm that it motivated us to do better.
4.      Mr. Asit Mehra He was my Economics professor during my college days. His passion towards his work and his teaching style attracted students even from other faculties.
5.      Ms. Nidhi She is my best friend, mentor and spiritual guide. She has been teaching for the last  15 years and was my inspiration to become a teacher. She persuaded me into this profession and has constantly guided me to become a better teacher. She is highly patient while teaching her students and keeps their welfare close to her heart.
6.      Ms. Kadambari Muttoo She was the principal of the 1st school, where I had started working as a teacher 9 years back. I had joined as a fresher and was not a qualified teacher. She took me under her wing, trusted me and taught me the basics about being a teacher. I have continued to be in this profession and enjoy every moment of it, thanks to her.

The Type of Role Model I Want to Be for My Students.
Describe which characteristics and behaviors you believe are the most important for you to model for your students.

1.      Honesty- This is the foremost characteristic that I want my students to emulate. Being honest keeps you peaceful, you don’t have to carry the burden of a lie. 
2.      Disciplined and focus- I want my students to understand the value of being disciplined and focus as these traits help us in achieving our goals. By discipline, I don’t mean military style discipline. I mean following rules, staying focused and completing tasks as expected.
3.      Need base living- Living a life fulfilling your needs and not running after your wants will help you living a peaceful and meaningful life. This becomes all the more imperative in our present times of excessive use of resources.

How I Will Incorporate Models and Mentors in My Classroom?
Describe a systematic plan for bringing models and mentors into your students’ lives in one or more domain(s) you plan to teach, such as math, English, science, music, and so on.

Here, I will share about one of lessons that I had done a few weeks back.

Topic- Healthy Lifestyle (to 9-10 yrs old)

  • I started by talking about the meaning of ‘health’ and ‘lifestyle’. I gave my definition and then helped the students in constructing their own meaning.
  • Then, I asked them if they know of any one that they consider healthy. Why? This helped in clarifying any doubts about the definition of healthy.
  • After this, I asked them the ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I modeled this by sharing with them my ways of keeping healthy- my choice of food, the type of exercise that I do, my sleep hours, etc. The students in turn shared their lifestyle choices. As a class, we discussed whether these choices constitute a healthy lifestyle of not. This helped in clearly their misconceptions about healthy lifestyle.
  • As a following up activity, I asked them to think of one person (family/friend) whom they think lives a healthy life. They were then asked to interview this ‘role-model’ about his.her choices.

Who Will Be My Education Mentor? What Would My Ideal Education Mentor Be Like?
Do you have someone in mind who might serve as an education mentor when you become a teacher? If so, describe the person.

Since I started my teaching journey 9 years back, one person has been my constant source of inspiration and strength. That person is my closest friend and confidant- Ms. Nidhi Khanija. She is not only an excellent teacher but also an exemplified human being. She is there to help her friends and strangers alike.

She has been teaching for more than 15 years. She is an elementary teacher and is now also the Curriculum head of her school. Her passion towards her work, her creativity in teaching, her desire to help and uplift every child that comes her way are just few of the traits that continue to inspire me and motivate me to do better. Every time, I am stuck with a problem either dealing with a student, or teaching a new/difficult concept, her advise is what I seek.

What would your ideal education mentor be like?

Well, I have just mentioned above about my mentor. She is my ideal mentor J

Reflections on Module 3.1- moulding of human behavior through discipline

What are predominant practices in your home with respect to reinforcing behaviors and for modifying behaviors? Recall your past experiences where behaviorist approaches have been used to modify your behaviors.   Which experiences do you consider positive (helpful and pleasant)?  In the attempt to modify your behavior, can you cite behaviorist approaches that successfully modified your behavior/s but turned out to be unpleasant experiences?
Were there occasions wherein your behavior/s became more undesirable rather than improved? 
How would you prefer behaviors to be regulated and/or modified at home or in school?

By nature, I am a disciplined person and (somewhere), I expect the same from the people around me. Basic values of respecting time, respecting opinion of others is the legacy that I have received from my parents. I don’t remember having a very hard and fast behavior system at my home when I was young. Yes, my parents did expect good behavior from me and my sister and every time, we did something, undesirable, we were reprimanded. But in my entire childhood, I can only recall one incident of physical punishment given by my father to me. Usually, they would model the right behavior, give examples of other people around us,etc.

The story in my school was completely different. I still remember my Grade 1 teacher holding a wooden ruler in her hand and hitting the students on their hands for any discipline issues (I don’t remember being hit by her, thankfully 😉 )

In our school, we had a system of ‘+’ and ‘-‘. Good behavior would get you a ‘+’ and a undesirable behavior would earn you ‘-‘. Few ‘+’ together gave you the privilege to wear a silver/golden star on your uniform (high moments of student life). Few ‘-‘ would make you wear a black hole (Marina Trench moment ;-)) A student could work hard, exhibit good behavior, earn a couple of ‘+’ to offset a ‘-‘ . This system really worked- both positive reinforcement and punishment.

As a teacher, I also like a disciplined classroom. In the beginning of a new academic year, I convey my expectations to my students and together, we come up with essential agreements (a.k.a. rules of the class). In terms of positive reinforcement, I am not in too much favor of material rewards. When I see a student exhibiting a desired behavior, I praise and appreciate that student in front of the whole class and also ensure to share it with the parents. In terms of punishments, I set clear guidelines and try to adhere to these during the year.

Since our school is yet to devise a official discipline policy, I have been struggling with behavior issues over the years. Last year, I tried to implement the ‘+’/’-‘ system in my class and it really worked.

Schools and parents should work hand-in-hand in disciplining the students. As I have mentioned in my reply to Krishna-Pamela’s blog-post ( , students understand better if they are expected to behave in a certain manner , both at home and in school.

I have been struggling with this. I want my 9-10 yrs old students to be more responsible, more independent; however, at their homes, my students are looked after by nannies and are not expected to be accountable for any thing.

Over the years, I have seen a direct correlation between parents who discipline their children and students who are disciplined in school and do well academically too.

Reflections on Module 2- supplement – knowing learning style and what I gain from it

It is generally recognized these days that people prefer different learning styles and techniques. We might find some learning styles more dominant in us than others; however, everyone has a mix of learning styles.  Our learning styles are not fixed. These might change over time. There is no right mix of these styles. As many types of people, so many combinations of learning styles.

Through the Module 2- supplement, I learned about various theories of learning styles. Most commonly, learning styles can be divided into three:

Since, I am an elementary school teacher, I prefer to use Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence since it talks about various styles rather than just three and it is lot easier for my students to understand about their own learning style:

Out of these 9, Existential intelligence is difficult for my 9-10 year old students to understand, so I focus on the other eight. Once, my students are familiar with these 8, they do a simple test to ascertain their ‘smarts’. Knowing themselves, their strengths and weaknesses help my students in their learning process. The most important implication is in terms of ‘self-confidence’. Usually, I start by asking my class, “who all are smart in my class?” Very few raise their hands in agreement. Then, I tell them that how about if I can prove that each one of them is smart, they sport a look of disbelieve.

Then once they have become familiar with the 8 ‘smarts’ as explained by Gardener, they understand by what I mean by smart. After this, any time, if my students say that something is difficult for them or that they are not as smart as their friends, I always take them back to this Theory of MI and remind them they are smart, though in a different way.

This Theory of MI also help in my teaching as now I know the strengths and weaknesses of my students. Quite often, I give differentiated tasks to my students where they can work using their dominant ‘smarts’.

Now after learning more about the learning styles, I want to use these more in my teaching. I also want to try challenging my students to work using their weaker ‘smarts’. This way, they will venture out of their comfort zones. They might not get a satisfying result but at least they would have tried something new.

This is my HW as a teacher 🙂

Reflections on Module 2- EDS 103

Today, I sat down with my laptop after many days (feels like ages). I am lagging behind…seriously behind….so much to catch upon.

Finally, I am done with the readings of Module 2 (wow, too many theories on intelligence. I had never thought that this would be such am ambiguous topic) I am also done with writing my reflections to the questions posted.

Time for some personal reflection before I move on:

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Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills and to interact with one’s environment. But in today’s critical times, intelligence would definitely be the ability to change and adapt.

A person who can learn from his environment, can adapt to the changes is intelligent. The definition of intelligence or the types of intelligence also changes with time. Foe eg, some time back, a new term was coined by Daniel Goldman- Emotional Intelligence (which is our ability to deal with ourselves and others around us). A colleague of mine (Jose) has coined the term-Spiritual Intelligence which I feel is extremely needed in our times.

Daniel Goldman has coined another term- Ecological Intelligence which means comprehending systems in all their complexity, as well as the interplay between the natural and man-made worlds. This ecological intelligence has come into play as this is the need of the hour where humans need to study and understand their impact on Earth and its environment.

Learning never stops. A person can go on learning in spite of his/her age, disabilities etc.  Hence, intelligence can be acquired and enhanced.

In the past, there was not much awareness about various types of intelligence or learning styles. Being smart with numbers was suppose to be the only way to be smart (this was true at least, in my part of the world ,India). Anybody who was not good with numbers/technology was considered low in terms of intelligence. And since, I was weak with numbers (I have always been word smart), I was made to feel unintelligent. This got intensified with the notion that girls are not good with Math. This narrow definition of intelligence had impact on my self-esteem. Things that I was good at were never considered to be important.

It is only later, that I was exposed to various types of intelligence and learned that Math (is essential) but not the most important thing.

I feel more confident about myself as I know myself better. I know, what my strengths are.

Present times show a better understanding on how we learn. There are various theories of intelligence, I personally feel most connected with Daniel Goldman’s Emotional Intelligence Theory and Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence.

Theory of MI is what I use with my students (9-10 yrs old). In the beginning of the academic year, I explain MI to them and each student then does a simple MI test to check their ‘smarts’. This helps me in knowing my students better.

Reflections on Module 1

Module 1 has come to an end and before I move to Module 2, it is time for me to reflect on what I have learned so far. Some parts are clear but others have left me confused.

Learning is a process more than an outcome/product. I believe that learning is used to create actions/products.

Learning is a combination of deep and surface learning. Facts need to be memorized but content should be understood. For eg, times-tables need to be memorized. It is not feasible to derive it every time you are solving multiplication sums. Same thing goes with dates. For eg, if you are studying history. Facts related to dates need to be memorized. Only then you can go deeper with the reasons for the wars, etc.

Inductive and deductive approached to learning- I believe, here again, it is more about a combination of these two approaches rather than a personal style.  Some content matter might require ne approach more than the other. But yes, as educators, we need to be aware of these two approaches and use them wisely in our teaching.

Atherton talks about hidden curriculum and implicit learning.



What is taught but not learned- wasted effort

What is taught and learned

What is learned but was not taught (hidden curriculum)

It is true that not everything taught is learned by the students. This could be due to various factors like lack of interest on behalf o the learner, teacher’s teaching style/manner being in conducive for the learner, etc.

An effective teacher would try that most of what is being taught is also being learned.

But students also learn from their peers, learning environment, society, etc. Students also come with prior knowledge that will have a great impact on their learning in the class.

The part which has left me confused is the meaning of unlearned phenomenon. I had an understanding that ‘unlearned’ means that we unlearn what we know, in order to relearn it in a different manner/context.  For eg, present day teaching style. When I was in school, we were taught in a different manner- learning from books, rote method used most of the times, progression based solely on test scores,etc. But when I started teaching in an IB school 8 years back, I had to ‘unlearn’ all that. I had to ‘relearn’ teaching. Now, I was expected to use books sparingly, make use of various methods like manipulatives, videos, field trips ,etc to teach.  Assessments are done year- round and tests carry a minuscule weight.

However, when I went through the various examples shared by my group members, I felt that by ‘unlearned’, they mean, something that comes naturally, without explicitly or formally learning it in a class/school.

Hope to get a better understanding on this, even if it means that I have to unlearn the definition of ‘unlearned’ and relearn the new one 🙂 🙂


Module 1 readings