“Congratulations Ms. Sinha! Our 10th grade students broke all previous records in their board exams. You are a magician!”, I could sense our school Principal Dr. Deshmukh’s excitement as I heard her on phone. I felt satisfied as I recalled the stressful meeting we had two months back. The meeting room’s environment was tense as we started the discussion with head teachers, representative parents and Dr. Deshmukh. The issue was students’ poor performance in pre-board exams. They had just two months before the 10th board exams. Moreover, these students were supposed to be the crème de la crème with proven past record. Then why was the result of these students deteriorating? Were they not spending time in their studies? Was there any distraction? Was it stress? Or was it some other reason?
Principal Dr. Deshmukh understood that the concern was big as the students who had scored 90% plus marks throughout their academic career did not even get 70% during their current practice examination. I spoke to students to understand their mindset. Working as a counselor, I always make it a point to listen to youngsters before forcing our suggestions on them. It was the stress of board exam and our collective expectation which the students were unnecessarily worrying about. I suggested Dr. Deshmukh conduct compulsory mentorship program for these students. My idea was to equip them with anxiety management skills through this program. We both discussed my ideas and agreed to run six weeks of a mentorship program with the following weekly guidelines. I thanked the concept of Saral Education that had helped me think through this situation and come up with a strong plan.
Week1: We had an interesting ice breaking session where the student enacted and expressed their hobbies and interest. As homework, they were asked to share ideas related to their hobbies. The whole idea was to give them some time to relax & reflect.
Week2: The students were made to chart a study timetable for themselves. I suggested them to add 5 to 10 minutes break in between 40 to 45 minutes session. As small breaks help in retention.
Week3: While discussing their daily routine, I noticed that 95% of the students do not spend their time in any outdoor activity. They were asked to spend at least an hour outside their house every day and to make note of how they utilized that time. I knew that one hour break from home, school, tuitions and their daily course would refresh their mind.
Week4: I started the class with a question. I asked them how much time they spend on their mobiles/television and how much time they spend with their family members. Almost everyone admitted that they hardly spend time with their family members. They love spending their recreation time with gadgets. My next task was, of course, to reduce the gadget time and increase family time. This would help them open up with their family and build a strong bond which would ultimately help them reduce stress.
Week5: I requested the principal to organize an outdoor picnic for the students. She was rather shocked by my idea as the students were going to have their mock tests from the following Monday. I explained to her that the student would start performing well when they are stress-free. I was happy that she finally agreed and the students enjoyed to their fullest.
Week6: The students were totally occupied with the examination, late night studies and last minute revision. All that they needed was focus and relaxation. So we decided to conduct this class in the school auditorium amidst soothing music. We allowed them the freedom to spend an hour as they liked and the impact was tremendous. I could see the positive effect on their faces while they were leaving the hall.
The concept of Saral Education had done wonders for me and my students. As parents and mentors, we need to ensure that we provide our children with a conducive environment that helps them bring out the best in them. We need to understand their challenges and help them overcome them. Criticism and pointing fingers rarely help.
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