We never imagined something like COVID-19 will ever “happen to us”. This pandemic has made each day as new learning day, especially for schools.
Know how Birla Open Minds is managing the curriculum as well as ensuring engagement in the online sessions.
Shilpa Potnis, President of Birla Open Minds (BOM) shows us behind the scenes!
Every school, whether a stand-alone Birla Open Minds Preschool or a K12 Birla Open Minds International School, teachers of all the 130+ schools pan India have risen to the occasion and shown that what matters during these times is the support to their young learners and to ensure that their students are well taken care of and meaningfully occupied too.
The entire academic team of BOM has shown their determination and has been rolling out videos and plans for the schools to share with the students and parents. This despite the strict timelines they all face for the rest of their work. These teachers have been tirelessly burning the midnight oil to churn out plans and hence I take pride in calling them, my Teacher Warriors!
As the Lockdown started with 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0 and now most likely to 4.0, we too at BOM started with Phase 1 of our plans to now making aggressive plans for Phase 4. Phase 1 involved the sharing of some activity videos that could keep the students occupied or the young parents involved with their children. The next phase was when we all realized the magnitude of the problem and started video sessions with students (thanks to Zoom and then WebEx!). These sessions were more to connect with the students and make them feel that we are there for them and care for them. So, these sessions were more of conversations and gradually moved towards discussing all curriculum-related topics. Teachers were also addressing the queries of the young learners on what was going on around them in the world so that the students felt more relaxed. These sessions also included the important Life Skills sessions to train the students with daily chores and above all to show gratitude for all that they have. These skills have been beautifully integrated into our regular Soul Science Curriculum and the same had to be now made ‘online’ for the students with real-life projects and examples.
While the team was gearing up for that with more and more videos and guidance notes for all our schools on how to take this further, the virus moved and is now literally standing at our doorsteps! By now, we all have accepted the fact that this is a long-drawn battle and we better be ready with more. The long video sessions with all team members have resulted in what we have today for all our schools and their students.
The school partners have also been very proactive and supported the teachers by providing the much-needed support of technology and other resources. We are now ready with more and more ‘online’ support for the students. This online support has been planned meticulously keeping in mind the various factors of the age group of students, connectivity issues faced by parents, lack of appropriate resources at home and most important the readiness of students for such online sessions. The teachers also faced some of these issues and to top the list was, most were not very comfortable facing the camera and then delivering the content!! The confidence level of teachers rose to heights after the first couple of videos, the confidence could be seen in their delivery techniques and the speed with which these videos started reaching out!
The plan has been very clear from the start that we do not expect the students to be glued to the screen for up to 6 hours every day. Since all teachers were on the same platform, it became easier for us to plan the schedule. A mix of online sessions, special worksheets, individual projects, yoga sessions, art and craft activities, music and dance sessions and simple conversation session with teachers – have been planned meticulously to cater to the holistic aspect of the students. These sessions are already being implemented at the schools. Besides the team from BOM has also been supporting all the schools with detailed weekly plans for the parents so that they are also able to plan their schedules while working from home.
While we take pride in our thematic curriculum and unique mix of various methodologies, today during this pandemic, the BOM team has easily adopted the new-age techniques and are supporting the schools with resources that are created, designed and edited in house.
Our teachers are the most passionate and committed professionals. Part of this passion and commitment is a drive to provide every student with meaningful and impactful learning experiences. By taking the time to reflect on how the best practices fit into their current pedagogy, teachers are putting themselves one step closer to achieving this goal.
During this time of COVID 19, the best practices remain the same with a slight twist as these are now done virtually while maintaining the physical distancing norms set in. To begin with, providing feedback to the students through live sessions and by taking parental feedback on the sessions and involvement of the students and parents have very much been a part of our regular plan. The act of facing the camera has not been a comfort zone for many teachers, however, stepping out of this comfort zone has been crucial and making the lessons as creative as possible with the limited resources at home proved a challenge that all teachers successfully overcame. Making the sessions and plans such that involves the students and keeps them on their toes by assigning duties and buddies have been easy and loved by students and parents. The practice of making the live sessions interactive has made it easy for the teacher to bring in the classroom hustle and bustle alive and make it more fun for all.
Though we are more than ready to tackle the tough times ahead through a mix of online and offline sessions, we are also gearing up for this pandemic to end so that our dear students can lead normal lives and the schools building echo with the laughter and joy once again!