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Ma’am, How is my child doing in school, Really?

Ma’am, How is my child doing in school, Really?

Open house..
Review day..
Parent teacher day..

Whichever fancy name it goes by, teachers, students and their parents alike, find the review meeting quite an ordeal to get through with, especially if you are a busy parent feeling guilty or uncomfortable about your dependence on the school to know more about your child!

As an eternal student and educator, i can easily divide the quest for learning as

  • What an individual yearns to learn (self-concept & self-efficacy based)

  • What his or her parents or family wants him or her to learn (family-interest based)

  • What the societal-status-warfare commanded (pre-cast) moulds (societal-concepts based)

  • What frameworks the Educators and Educational bodies & institutions build to address or leverage on the above 3 factors

The pandemic phase in the recent past has brought forth the advent of online learning. During the pandemic phase, the world tried to make use of it. After the pandemic phase, the world seems to be divided on its holistic efficacy.

With the whole world getting confused about the way forward, predictive models are out, being propagated by very authoritarian voices trying to establish authenticity to their arguments. Many online training platforms are under a lot of pressure to keep their shareholders happy.

Simply put, I feel it may take a while for the world (if at all it would), to hit the old educational routes and the traditional pedagogical methods

Contemporary educational methods are evolving into semblance, as we speak.

A complexity is looming large on gathering real data on student engagements.

How can we measure or elicit correct data on academic prowess, extra-curricular activities and social skills of a student coming on and off on an online platform named virtual classroom?

‘Data is the new oil!’ we keep hearing this quite often, of late

A good part of the career bound lot are trying to get into analytics, as it is being touted as ‘The Future!’ for mankind

Factually, we are getting a bit lost in the middle of this chaos in the offing, I feel

And then comes our child in school.

As a part-time counselor, traveling between places and countries, I get to observe that parents are getting super worried..

‘Should I be the one to take a decision for my child’s future and plan forward, taking the driver’s seat?’

Can i afford to let a small child choose a career option that may not have any relevance in the future?

Or let my child pursue a hobby as a career, to ensure his or her contentment?

Which school or University to go for?

Would Schools or Universities really matter in the future?

What value would today’s top merits and certificates hold in the future?

Is the educational curriculum balanced?

Are trainers and teachers in schools adequately trained to address different student characteristics?

Are we teaching and training our children right? At home and in schools?

Are the archaic educational and examination formats and strategies good for our times?

Does a top rated school or high educational fees justify the end results a student wins?

Is my child coping well?

Is my child enjoying a REAL-upskilling experience through his/her Academic-engagements?

Or is he/she being RITUALISTIC, running mundane errands at school?

Is my child getting adequate opportunities to shape himself/ Herself up, to a well rounded personality to take his/ her life & career-challenges head on?

Is my child improving on her learning traits?

Does his or her social skills get groomed at school?

Is my child happy with his or her school?

Is my child happy with his or her academic life?

Is my child going to succeed in his or her life & career?

Are we, my child & I, investing our desires, time, effort and money for the right education?

These and much more of such worries & questions run rounds in a parent’s mind all the time..most of the time subliminally!

In a world with most of humanity vying for a decent livelihood in the middle of a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity), parents often find themselves lost between work and life.

1 study we did showed us that school managements are finding it more difficult to get desired support from parents, other than eagerness & concerns shared at review meetings

Another point we observed is that all parents do not converge on a school’s decision to introduce SEPs (Soft skill empowerment programs), with many parents raising an opinion that it was another way for the school to fleece more money out of hapless parents!

I never quite believed that parents would doubt the intent of a well-meaning institution that they chose to send their child to, until a school management asked me to address a large gathering of about 1000 parents, to convince them on the need to run SEPs in schools.

In my address that afternoon, I pitched one point to the parents strongly, that it took me 39 long years to gather enough social and soft skills to get to this stage to address them, because my parents and the school i studied in did not feel it as important to impart a student with soft skills too in the curriculum, along with academics.

There is always a risk to take & a cost to bear when it comes to introducing a well-researched, well-designed & well-meaning initiative into an already jammed curriculum

Cost -sharing is a shared-responsibility, for helping a student emerge as a Vibrant character ready to not just survive, but thrive, in Life and Career alike.

The question is, how far would parents and schools reach up to, to get an effective SEP (Soft Skill Empowerment Program) in place to help the students balance life skills empowerment, along with academic learning.

An SEP with a data management mechanism to capture true data for meaningful analytics.

Isn’t it interesting..?

  • A professional athlete today needs right training coupled with accurate performance-data review, for self-development

  • So does an airline pilot, who needs critical training plus onboard & ATC data-support to excel on the job

  • A good doctor needs right learning coupled with accurate patient data from Scans or Lab reports to provide appropriate treatment for curing the illness

Is it not time that students too got SEPs coupled with performance data for higher gains in their Academic life?

Once an effective SEP with a data management system is in place, it not only facilitates the students with ample avenues & opportunities to scale up on their soft skills, it captures true-data and analytics based result-representations as well.

Armed with this visually presented value-added score sheet, the school representative meeting the student & parent during a periodic review-meeting would have quite a realistic story to tell them.

Visualization (Visually compelling representations) and Story-telling (explaining the factors beyond the scores!) are technically sound Outputs attached to Data-Analytics.

The teacher does not have to worry about memorising data or result-accuracy of a student, while meeting the parent. On the contrary, the output sheets in hand (or on a shared PC screen) would enable the teacher to give value-added suggestions to get the student gain more out of his/her engagements.

All sides will be in consent, when true-data speaks for itself. Analytics based on true-data is as accurate as one can make a commentary of reality. Perceptional-observations or Inaccuracies on the part of teachers do not come to figure here. ACCURATE DATA SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. Teachers’ experience and intuitiveness based observations & suggestions would surely add value.

That a teacher can remember all the details attached to a student over a period of time is wishful thinking. And a stressful ordeal for all the parties concerned.

Imagine what would happen if the teacher in charge (with student data stored in her mind) leaves her job without submitting a report on the students. The school is now reduced to having only examination results to know about the student.

In 1 study, we found that a newly introduced ‘Continuous evaluation’ by India’s CBSE syllabus has put a high percentage of teachers under so much stress. In the absence of a real-time data capturing mechanism, teachers found themselves in dire straits while entering ranks (A to E grading) on non-academic parameters of the students.

The grades marked by the teachers were then copied to the student log book (student diary) by the class-teacher, which was to be presented to the parent on review-day. It only helped the teacher, student and the parent get perplexed during the review meeting, as all three sides knew the data had huge shortcomings attached to its legitimacy

Now, let us imagine you are the teacher assigned by your school to meet a parent & student for a performance-review meeting this very minute..

You got data sheets of this student in hand, with all his/her Activity Vs Result captured (real time) and analyzed through Data-Analytics. You know the score sheet format, objectives & parameters portrayed, and you are feeling very confident to explain the scores and levels.

The student is walking in expecting you to present a data-based truthful review that would accurately depict his/ her all round efforts on versatile engagements.

The parent is looking up to you, with those parental worries & concerns coming to the fore.

How comfortable are you feeling right now, about your ability to conduct a meaningful review session?

Is it not an invigorating feeling that you would not need to make up, construct or force any incorrect comments out of your helplessness (in the absence of accurate data about the student)?

The parent is asking you right now..

‘Ma’am, how is my child doing in school, Really?

Are you not feeling so happy that you got data backed stories to make this review meeting a meaningful exercise?

A powerful few minutes that addresses the real need of the hour, making the school (service provider), the teacher (facilitator), the sponsor (the parent) & most importantly, the Client (the Student) feel appreciative!

That, I believe, is what each review shall be. Constructively and Proactively helping a student attain goals that would help him/her emerge in flying colors.

Many of us failed to get endowed with such an opportunity in our school years.

Should not we be ushering in an era of capacity-building through apt review mechanisms in schools?

That, is an interesting question I would like to leave you with..

Happy learning!

Pac (Prakash Valiaveettil)
prakash@performeraa.com/perforemeraConsider me as a friendly, fun loving guy with a simple approach to help my clients find the most suitable solution to address their organisational challengesYou may often find me help you (or key stakeholders) out of a heated boardroom, for hiking, trekking, sailing, or for a walk in the park, to find our magic moment to arrive at superior solutions!

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