Eduleader Focus: Siddharth Rajgarhia, DPS, Nashik, Varanasi, Lava Nagpur

EducationWorld has introduced a new series, the ‘Eduleader Focus’ featuring interviews with principals/directors of reputed educational institutions who are popular among their students and staff. In this edition of ‘Eduleader Focus‘, Siddharth Rajgarhia, Delhi Public School, Nashik, Varanasi, Lava Nagpur in conversation with Shreyosi Chakraborty of EducationWorld, discusses the current state of education in Indian, about teacher welfare and his interests.

An engineer from RV college Bangalore,Rajgarhia holds Master’s in Business and Management from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He also holds a certificate in school leadership and management from the prestigious Harvard graduate school of education and the Harvard business school. A compassionate leader and an advocate,  Mr. Rajgarhia is a 21st century educationist and has a decade of experience in leading Delhi Public School, Nashik, Varanasi, Lava Nagpur. He believes that one of the main purposes of formal schooling is to develop young minds as lifelong learners. Mr Rajgarhia has introduced many progressive educational initiatives at the three schools.

1. Schools have been shut for the past two years. What are the challenges that the school community is likely to face once they reopen?
 
There are many challenges that communities are likely to face and they would differ for different schools. What I foresee in my context is that students and teachers from the early years would have the challenge to establish a regular routine and will work on increasing concentration and on-task time for the little ones. We could also look at increased anxiety among a certain groups of parents. The challenges for the students from middle school and senior school are from the other end of the spectrum. Schools that have done well online and brought in a lot of innovation would strive to bring technology to the physical school as well to keep student engagement high. This brings along another set of challenges for the school community around managing finances and creating shared value.

2. What are the challenges of online teaching and how far has your school been able to deal with these challenges?
 
Online teaching is very challenging as the teacher is literally competing for a child’s attention with a video game that the child regularly plays on the same device. We have invested a lot in teacher professional development in the past couple of years. The continuous professional development has really helped us innovate and look for ways to continuously better our teaching-learning process and make our classrooms a richer experience for our learners. 
 
3. 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?
 
Mental well-being is of high importance to all of us at the school and we have brought in various practices at the systems level to ensure that not just the students’ mental well-being is taken care of but we also support other stakeholders. Having regular mindfulness sessions in small communities of practice for our students and teachers followed by circle sharing has allowed us to be empathetic and compassionate to the situation and surroundings. 
 
4. If not a teacher you would be?
If not a teacher, I would definitely be a cricketer.
 
5. What is your philosophy of education?

I believe that knowledge is what the learners construct from the various experiences they have as they grow in life. One of the main purposes of Education for me is to get my students to fall in love with the process of learning and become lifelong learners.

6. Describe your leadership style.

I would call myself someone who leads by example. For me, dialogue is at the heart of leadership. 

7. What do you do to unwind/ destress yourself? 

I spend time with my kids. We generally go on a drive.

8. If there was one thing you could change in India’s education system, what would it be?

I would improve teacher education as well as the pay that teachers get. 

9. 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?
 
There has been a lot of misses in the pandemic but I also feel that there has been a lot of positives for students learning. I would like to celebrate the positives and carve out a detailed plan to minimize the gaps by working on skills needed for the students as they progress further.

10. Teachers have been under tremendous stress because of hybrid learning, unprecedented lockdowns, completion of syllabus, etc. As a leader, what is the manner in which you helped them out of it?
 
To be true, I haven’t done enough to help them out of it. They have been the real warriors and given their hearts and soul to their students. We have tried to live up to our side of financial commitments towards the teaching body.
 
11. How satisfied are you with the growth and development of your school?

There are miles to go, learning is a continuous process and I would like to make sure that every child is treated well everyday and they learn in the same way, the way I would like my child to be taught.

12. Mention some of your hobbies.

My hobbies include Reading, meditation and ofcourse spending quality time with my friends.
 
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