Since the dawn of time, or maybe a little after that, parents’ and teachers’ meetings have existed. Most of us might remember the dread we felt as these adults got together only to discuss all the things that you have done wrong. We asked Mr. Kumar Thapa, principal at Brihaspati Vidyasadan, his opinions on which team does he feel drawn to in these meetings.
“Actually,” he begins, “I believe that when an effective framework is created by the principal then such interference is not necessary. We used to have a lot of parents wanting to talk to the principal for every issue, however, nowadays parents and teachers know to make a joint plan that works in the benefit of the child.” When questioned about how he measures if this joint plan is working, he explains, “My job is to delegate. So I will ask about the joint plan and assess how much each party has managed to fulfill it. The goal here is to make everybody involved accountable so that the old thinking of simply sending a kid to school and believing you are exempt of responsibility is no more.”
Mr. Thapa is a big proponent of feedback. “Look,” he says simply, ”if you are a cook and you offer food to your customers, then their feedback is proof of your good work. However, as educators, we seem to neglect getting the same feedback”. Therefore, he takes this feedback in the form of his surveys, parental complaints and most of all observing the children. He happily reports that one of the most positively rated questions for his students was, “Has teaching/learning been more lively this year compared to the previous year?”
“One of my foundational beliefs,” he continues, “stemming from my own experiences, is to make sure no child is blamed for their bad behaviour. I think the solution lies in creating an environment where parents as well as teachers, first consider if they are doing their own roles properly.” He explains this so nonchalantly you’d think there’s no way this isn’t the norm.
Do you want to satisfy yourself by seeing that your child is pretending to read or would you rather do something that will inspire your child to study?
In one of his recent encounters, he recalls, “We had a mother angrily complain to me that other schools get results by making the students study from morning to evening. Why isn’t BVS doing this?” This was a common question raised by parents as even for grade 10, BVS did not practice the common grilling schedule while the other schools had morning classes as well as frequent tests. Mr. Thapa turned to the mother and simply said, “Do you want to satisfy yourself by seeing that your child is pretending to read or would you rather do something that will inspire your child to study?”
It isn’t just parents whose opinions he has to fight to change. He has received similar arguments in meetings with principals of other schools. In a recent meeting of various educators he noted, “They seemed to only be complaining about how out of hand today’s children have gotten but without any efforts to look for a solution.” When further questioned about what he believes could
be a solution, he says, “Two things need to be done to change this system. One, make the subject matter more interesting. And two, set a good example where teachers can be influenced by the way the principal handles things, so that they too can learn from it.”
It is a tough battle that he is fighting against these old thoughts but in a way, he owes it to his student-self that has been a victim of these traditional teaching practices. As a principal, he does not shy away from the responsibility his position holds and confidently believes in both learning and accountability.