EducationWorld has introduced a new series, the ‘Eduleader Focus’ featuring interviews with principals of reputed educational institutions who are popular among their students and staff. In this inaugural edition of ‘Eduleader Focus‘, Bhupinder Gogia, principal of Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana in conversation with Reshma Ravishanker of EducationWorld addresses some of the most pertinent issues facing the education community today while also talking about her passions and interests.
Bhupinder Gogia began her teaching career in 1991. Following stints at several well-reputed education institutions in Ludhiana including the Sacred Heart Convent School, Kundan Vidya Mandir, Guru Nanak Engineering College and Khalsa College for Women, she was appointed principal of SPMS on 1 April 2010. A gold medalist in MSc (Applied Mathematics) who also has PGDSM, BEd, MEd degrees rose to fame for being a thoughtful leader and the brain behind introducing the latest curriculum and pedagogy innovations, integrating contemporary IT technologies, assessment and evaluation best practices, and focusing on the continuous professional development of teachers. Today, she is the leader of an educational institute with 1,582 students.
Schools have been shut for the past two years. What are the challenges that the school community is likely to face once they reopen?
The Covid-19 pandemic has indeed posed significant challenges for the education community worldwide. Though hybrid learning has been implemented to ensure learning continuity, disengagement from the school system will have a long-term impact on students’ lives. Also, assessing how much the students have learned during these unprecedented times is yet another challenge. Our students have digital learning days and we have worked through home-connectivity and device issues. However, equity is a graver concern presently. It is difficult to anticipate the roadblocks that students, as well as teachers, face while navigating this digital territory.
What are the challenges of online teaching and how far has your school been able to deal with these challenges?
Online teaching comes with a gamut of challenges such as quality of teacher-student interaction, lower concept retention, learning gaps, skill deficiency, fatigue from online learning and mental stress etc. Our dedicated and committed teachers quickly designed engaging and result-oriented online learning modules for all classes, leveraging e-learning platforms such as MS Teams, Flipgrid, Wakelet, OneNote and O365. They upgraded their teaching methodologies and used digital platforms seamlessly to ensure learning continuity, better emotional connect and skills development. Learning management platform and online repository of teaching resources were created in no time and implemented for the benefit of the students.
The absence of physical interaction has had a toll on the emotional health of children. What steps has your school taken to ensure the mental well-being of its students?
We have launched various Connect Programmes, Clubs and SEL sessions designed to engage all the stakeholders and empower and equip students with appropriate skills to tide over any adversity and make them future-ready.
If not a teacher you would be a
I believe mathematics is in the whole universe. If not a teacher, I would be an astrophysicist.
What is your philosophy of education?
I believe that being an educationist is a ‘karmic job’ which provides one with an opportunity to be a vehicle for change.
Describe your leadership style
I see myself as a catalyst for change, to nourish a learning environment that enables innovation, collaboration and growth.
What do you to unwind/destress yourself?
Connecting with nature is healing. To destress myself, I take a relaxed, meandering walk and focus on the present moment. Other than that, I work on creative projects and try my hands on Mandala art, gardening and craft work.
If there was one thing you could change in India’s education system, what would it be?
The need of the hour is to build resilience, capacity and employability skills among students in such an ever changing landscape. From being ‘nirbhar’ to ‘atamnirbhar’ should be the motto of our education system. I believe that revamping K-12 syllabuses and curriculums is the urgent change required.
Can you give us an estimate of the learning loss children might have faced during the pandemic? How according to you can we make up for the learning loss?
The potential learning loss is a temporary phase. By providing emotional nourishment to the students and by offering adequate resources, a well-focused action plan and individualised support, we can overcome this new crisis of home-schooling for millions of students.
Teachers have been under tremendous stress because of hybrid learning, unprecedented lockdowns, deadlines for completion of syllabus, etc. As a leader, what is the manner in which you helped them deal with it?
Through NISHTHA, SWAYAM and various other courses, our teachers have been upgrading their teaching methodologies on a regular basis. We invest time and energy in designing teacher-training programmes that are in tandem with the changing times. I have always supported my staff to the best of my ability. Right from offering work from home option in case of any emergency to providing a patient ear and emotional support, I stay in “constant communication” with my staff through texts, online meetings, and drop-ins to instructional sessions.
How satisfied are you with the growth and development of your school?
Our focus is on nurturing the 21st-century skills of collaboration, problem-solving, communication and digital proficiency among srudents. We as a school are permeable and adaptive to the needs of the times ahead and we relentlessly work towards teaching students the most relevant, useful, in-demand, and universally applicable skills. The positive feedback and accolades assure that we are on the right path and every step is taking us closer to our vision of being an institution of excellence where every Satyan is a responsible citizen and empowered leader of tomorrow.