Teacher Spotlight - Mr. Soham Roy -
Meet Mr. Soham Roy in Sep 2020 Teacher Spotlight series, a teacher who strongly believes that all of us who are fortunate to be in this grand scheme of transacting learning with young minds have the latent abilities to truly make a difference in the field of education.
- Name: Soham Roy
- Contact Number: +919831632079
- School / Institute: Selaqui International School
- Email ID: [email protected]
- Designation / Title: HEAD OF DEPARTMENT - SCIENCE
- City / Location: DEHRADUN
Tell us about yourself – Your overall experience in education field, National / International experiences, variety of work you have done in the education field.
I have always been a seeker of new knowledge and experiences. To know the “WHY?” of things and then sharing with others the knowledge gleaned from my learning with added insights always gets me excited. The curiosity to explore and find new things all started since my days in Don Bosco, Bandel and Kendriya Vidyalaya (AFS), Barrackpore, where I went to school. From there, my journey has taken me through IIT Kanpur, where I did my Master’s and off to foreign shores of USA (Arizona State University) and Germany (Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research) for independent research. Since the past three years, I have been in the lively and verdant 52 acres of SelaQui International School, one of the best residential CBSE schools in the country, in Dehradun. At SelaQui, which is built on the ideals of leadership and excellence at its core, I have the privilege to share my learnings in Chemistry to Grades 9-12.
How did you choose the field of education? Was it by choice or some inspiration from someone or a childhood dream? Please help with more details.
Over the many years I was in research, although I was creating new knowledge but somehow, I always felt that I could do something more meaningful. Maybe share this insatiable curiosity and the spark to know with others. That I have witnessed that I believe there cannot be a science teacher as such. So, when the opportunity presented itself at the end of my research project in Germany, I grabbed it with both hands. And not to mention the residential environment in a place like Dehradun, within the confines of Nature, I could not have asked for more.
No one can teach something when that thing is ubiquitous in our daily life. What indeed can be done is to be still and observant. The ability to deduce and critically reason out the “WHY?” and the “HOW?” behind commonplace situations and circumstances is the distilled essence of science exploration. And thus, the discovery of science must move away from the banal instructional practices to one of imbibing, replicating, reproducing, and researching. For me, the biggest inspiration has always been my surroundings.
It all started a long time back. Maybe, one of the first times was when I observed water rushing across a windowpane and still the glass felt dry to the touch. Why was water behaving like so? My teachers, parents and others all explained it in different ways and to different degrees of accuracy but there was no one single reason to justify what I had observed. Perhaps, this deep curiosity led me to traverse the paths of fundamental research and finally, put me in front of a classroom of eager teenagers looking for answers.
What would you like to mention for your greatest achievements in field of education? Which gives you a sense of satisfaction?
When you are on a journey of science exploration with young minds, there are no greatest achievements. It is a highlight reel of enriching experiences one after the other daily, even though it might seem cliched, yet it is true. However, there is some structure to the daily program involving morning classes and afternoon laboratory work.
From sitting in classrooms across continents, what I have gathered is that a rigid, structured routine inside the classroom does not always lead to the best outcome when it comes to science experience. Thus, I make it a conscious effort to make no two classes similar. There should always be an element of change. On some days, it may simply involve re-arranging the furniture to represent the different states of matter. While, on others, I challenge the students to devise ways to represent a topic to their classmates using ideas based on design-thinking. Although, for the board classes, I tend to keep the assimilation of the prescribed curriculum the foremost priority. Though, I would like to add that I always insist the pupils to ask questions, create this prevalent and pervasive sense of inquiry within the learners – all questions are welcome in my class. No student should feel judged as to the relevance of their question. It is because through questioning only you begin the process of unearthing and discovery in the Sciences.
How has the education system changed as per your view since you were a student yourself?
It would be presumptuous, on my part, to make a remark that the education offered by CBSE holds an advantage over other National and International Boards. For one thing, I have taught only the CBSE curriculum. So, I should not make assumptions about the efficacy of it compared to the other boards, only through hearsay. However, I can conscientiously state, having studied in both ICSE as well as CBSE systems, the breadth of the content CBSE offers is beyond compare. Add to that, the NCERT’s continuous effort to innovate and upgrade its practices. The National Education Policy 2020 is one such enormous and exciting paradigm shift. This, in turn, translates to ideas in the classroom. Such an approach is excellent coming from a centralized governing body.
Like I mentioned before, the NCERT is implementing incremental changes every year to its curriculum and the content delivery in the classroom. An endeavour like that has led to several benefits. From not only instructing the students in the textbook material but also coupling it with relevant skills of collaboration, communication, citizenship, and other necessary competencies, which are essential to succeed outside the school. When such a modern approach is taken to the classroom, there is an observable change in the attitude of the students. The students display high levels of confidence in their abilities. This is of paramount importance.
What are the qualities you think an individual should possess to be a good teacher or work in field of education?
I do not subscribe to the notion of a good teacher or a not so good teacher and /or educator. If the individual is investing their time and effort for enabling the learning of young minds, then they are already in possession of the talents and skill sets that will help them leave an indelible mark on the educational landscape.
Personally, I believe that all of us who are fortunate to be in this grand scheme of transacting learning with young minds have the latent abilities to truly make a difference in the field of education.
Foremost among them would be the mindset that there is no end to learning and growing. Couple that with self-initiative on the part of the teacher, you already have greatness in the making. If a teacher makes sure to design the learning with the assessments in mind and the student at the centre of the design, he or she may very well be elevating their transactions and living up to their potential.
How do you handle discipline problems in today’s world? What is the most difficult aspect of discipline for you?
Being in a residential environment, we spend more time with our students outside the classroom than within. And when you get to engage with a student on the field or in the dining hall or in the residential blocks, you truly begin to realize and appreciate the uniqueness in every young individual. So any disciplinary issues that might prop up in the classroom seems to fade away as you know the learner and you develop the understanding that the child might be dealing with something completely unrelated to academics but he or she is getting labelled as a disruptive agent of discipline. Boarding schools provide this wonderful opportunity for Social Emotional Learning, unlike any academic setting. And moving ahead, such forums and avenues will become more the norm rather than the exception as both the teacher and the student come to grips with their emotional transitions throughout the growing years of school.
If you were to change 1-2 things in our Indian education system, what would be those & why?
If this question had been asked to me 2 months back, my response would have been completely different. But with the release of the New Education Policy 2020, I believe the MHRD is already thinking of the future of our education system. The focus away from assessment of learning being only performance based is the indeed a wonderful and imperative first step towards the right direction. Not to mention the impetus behind developing different skills and competencies taking a prime spot in the list of priorities, I am certain that we will be able to produce lifelong and self-regulated learners ready to take on the 21st century world outside the classroom.
What is your philosophy of teaching / education?
I believe that education should not only foster the development of cognitive abilities but also the psychomotor and affective domains within a student. For this to happen, the transition must happen from teaching to learning in letter and in spirit. The days of sage on the stage are long gone. The future of student-led inquiry-based learning is here to stay and we as teachers must facilitate this learning journey tailored to every student with unique talents and skills. We must be ready to unlearn, learn, and re-learn all that we can to enable the growth of metacognitive abilities in all our students as this will be imperative in creating self-regulated learners who will know how to learn.
What are your suggestions or opinions for today’s parents in shaping up children’s personality? Especially in this Online or computer age.
During this day and age, our children are experiencing new knowledge at the speed of their internet connectivity. Thus, I feel that they are growing up at an unprecedented rate as compared to our generation. It is of critical importance that parents find time for their children. They should be present actively listening to all they have to share. Sometimes, teenagers nowadays just want to be heard without any judgment. Maybe, it would be better if parents and children together can engage in reflective dialog. That would be the ideal way ahead in shaping our current and future generations.
What are the three most important strengths you possess that will make you a successful teacher? Also any weakness in you which you want to improve upon?
Once again, I must re-iterate that a person is already successful if they are sharing their experiences and learning with students both within and outside the classroom. Still, if I reflect over the past three years, the qualities which have enabled me to support the learners in the best possible way would be – PATIENCE, ACTIVE LISTENING, NON-JUDGMENTAL. Being a boarding school master, sometimes I feel that we are invested in the wellbeing of each and every of our student that we forget that children sometimes learn best from their mistakes and we must provide them with the safe space to make their own mistakes.
If you had not been associated with education field, what would you have been and why?
As already elaborated in the very first response, I would still be in a research laboratory engaged in satiating my curiosity about the things we do not know yet within the natural world.
What do you want to accomplish in your profession in next 5 years?
I want to be at the forefront of pioneering this paradigm shift in the perspective of the Sciences in the school setting. Science subjects feature high on the list of stress inducers for a student in the Indian Education System. The reasons for such apprehension are many-fold. Without delving into too many details, I believe there are 2 key issues behind this paranoia or ‘fear’. Firstly, the societal and peer pressures of performing well in Science, lest you be labelled as unintelligent or academically weak since a young age. The other cause would be us, teachers, from junior classes, emphasizing high stakes in Science as a marker for future success. And several other issues combined with these two simply compound the problem and make the child alien to the joy of discovery and exploration that entails Science.
One of the ways to remedy such a stressful environment is that students should be given the freedom to make mistakes without high stake judgment attached to it, when it comes to Science. Every student is different, and he / she should observe and record, analyze and infer at their own pace. The students should seek out resources which will enable them to manifest their own curiosities so that they can form their own connections. And above all, students need to reflect at the end of the day to figure out the “WHYs?” and sometimes, the “WHY NOTs?” behind a science concept.
Any other things you would like to share about yourself, your profession, your hobbies, your views?
Even though my journey has been short, still there has been moments where I have been pleasantly surprised. One of the biggest rewards of the teaching journey in school is that every class holds something captivating every single time. If everything went “as planned”, the journey would be quite insipid and monotonous. Like, I vividly remember the time when this class of 9th graders gathered themselves into a surprising and impressive chorus of a song about the asteroid belt. We were discussing the heliocentric model of the atom. It was quite unusual and at the same time, quite heartening. They were making all their neuronal connections in unison to this new topic from what they learned in grade eight about the solar system.
I have this vision that Science Departments across schools in India should be cohesive and collaborative. It must pique the interest of the students both inside the classroom and outside through the Science and other allied clubs and societies. Students are to be encouraged to satisfy their individual curiosities without the sword of judgment hanging over them. It should foster meticulous research and analysis, collaboration, and reflection. It must sow the seeds of local and global awareness in the minds of the students and the teachers. From such awareness, meaningful insights will result. This, in the long run, can lead to a tangible solution to future world and environmental issues.
How would you rate our website yayskool.com especially this teacher spotlight program? 1 being the worst, 5 being the best.
This is a very welcome change to share and learn from fellow faculties across the length and breadth of the country. If there is some type of professional development tie-ins, then this spotlight program will be a 5 on 5. Right now, I think it is at a strong 3 and a half.
The role of a teacher in society is both significant and valuable. It has far-reaching influence on the society he lives in and no other personality can have an influence more profound than that of a teacher. Students are deeply affected by the teacher's love and affection, character, competence, and moral commitment.
Yet teachers don't get their due respect and credit these days. We have started a Teacher Spotlight program where we recognise the effort of these silent and true Heroes of our society and tell their story.