Independent and motivated learners
Virtual Learning

Independent and motivated learners

  • 20 June 2021

Nurturing, responsive and motivated students through a dynamic, success-oriented education program

In today’s world of uncertainty, there’s a significant change in the teaching and learning process. One can say it is getting more immersive and technology-driven to make the students future-ready. Where education needs a new direction in this fast-changing environment, Oakridge International School has been making a difference. Its perfectly articulated learning infrastructure provides the most influential learning environment for its students.

In conversation with Pallavi Mishra, Principal at Oakridge International School, Bengaluru

What makes Oakridge one of the top 10 international schools in India? Elaborate on the academic program and curriculum of the school and what makes it different from the other educational institutions in India today?

Oakridge International School is an IB continuum world school and is authorized to offer IB PYP (Nursery to grade 5) IBMYP (grades 6-10) and IBDP (grades 11 and 12). Our board classes are the two-year MYP consisting of grades 9 and 10 while DP consists of 11 and 12. The final board exams are a two-year learning journey comprising of independent research work like Personal project in MYP and Extended essay and Theory of Knowledge in IBDP apart from the final externally assessed board exams. Oakridge, since its inception 8 years ago, has been known to nurture a success-oriented education program, which empowers the students with a global and local perspective. By virtue of being part of the prestigious Nord Anglia family of 73 premium schools across the world, we offer a wide ecosystem of learning with global exposure through collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), UNICEF, Julliard (New York) apart from several opportunities of collaboration with our 67.000 students in 30 countries.

This global presence and associations not only guarantees the best university placements for our students but also enables students to excel both academically and personally; thereby creating compassionate, future-ready individuals.

As technology intervention has become somewhat imperative today, how have you leveraged the same for better deliverability of education?

Being an IB continuum school where grade 10 students take the futuristic e.assessments, we have consciously worked towards developing a strong Ed. Tech. strategy from early on. Fortunately for Oakridge, we are being guided by stalwarts in the industry like the international author Ms.Rose Luckin with her handpicked team of experts who are essentially innovators in this field. It is really exciting to be part of cutting edge technology where artificial intelligence is integrated to make more efficient lesson plans, reduce any duplication of work for teachers and customize learning for a range of learners. This is most satisfying for me as an educator-imagine using data interpretation to identify the strengths of each child and therefore giving each child the opportunity to excel. The best part of our ed. Tech. strategy is that we are very conscious of balancing the emotional well-being of children with tech. integration, so we believe teachers should be supported not replaced with technology. And that’s what sets us apart because we recognize that technology is a tool and a useful one at that, but children need the warmth and emotional connection with teachers to truly thrive and we are ensuring both are available to our students.

For instance, during virtual schooling, all our teachers were provided continuous tech training and equipment like stylus pens, laptops, internet connections wherever required and certified professional development of best practices in virtual teaching through the online Nord Anglia University exclusively for our 14000 Nord Anglia teachers and staff. With this kind of tech support, it is no surprise that our parent and student survey showed a 98% success rate. Not only was academics done with diligence, but we also carried out all calendared school events like art, science, literary and sports festivals among several others. And like I said earlier, the EdTech strategy being currently developed under Ms.Rose Luckin with her London team, is path-breaking and really ahead of the times. But more of that later.

As the principal of the school, what kind of a school culture you uphold?

I have always believed in establishing a culture of cooperation and collaboration between all stakeholders. For instance, I owe a special thanks to our Oakridge parent community representatives for participating in monthly grade-level meetings. This constant feedforward and exchange of ideas strengthened our partnership, plugging the smallest gaps and leading to the collective success of all stakeholders. I believe continuous professional development for all our teachers, a safe and supportive environment for all our learners, with a focused emphasis on all-around student achievement in academics, sports, music, and art is at the centre of everything we do at Oakridge.

In these uncertain times of the pandemic, how do you ensure an uninterrupted learning environment for students of various age groups?

These are disruptive times and to stay ahead we have to reimagine and adapt. We cannot wish away the pandemic but we can prepare ourselves to do the best in the present circumstances and that’s where we are focusing all our energies. To ensure an uninterrupted learning environment we first focused on the emotional wellbeing of our teachers because I always say happy teachers equals happy learners.

With this aim in mind, our central office in London launched our unique Employment assistant program, and we took a decision not to make any staff redundant or implement any pay cuts. The school absorbed the financial deficit due to lack of transport or food revenue but we retained all our staff or replaced them where required, ensuring our teachers have a safe work environment. We also offered school sponsored professional development for teachers so that they are equipped to face the demands of a dynamic virtual learning environment. We set up weekly catch-ups and online platforms for frequent and instant tech support, besides creating several opportunities for one to one interactions between teachers, students and parents. We developed parent tool kits and several orientation programs to support our parents and I would like to mention the hugely successful positive parenting workshops we run. In these workshops, our experts from the student support unit give practical parenting tips to manage children of various age groups.

Being an IB continuum school definitely puts us at an advantage because our curriculum is concept-driven and our assessments are designed to create self-directed learners. The combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning timetable peppered with wellness program ensured a continuous and vibrant learning environment for all our learners, Additionally, with our Global Campus platform, a personalized online learning platform exclusively for Nord Anglia students, learning has no limits at Oakridge. Students across the world from the Nord Anglia Schools connect and take part in various challenges and competitions, collaborate with peers before and after regional festivals, sports events or global expeditions.

In the recent MIT Mission MOXIE project, Vidhanshu Kachhwaha from Grade 7 developed a prototype named MDFR – Martian Dust Filter Rover. It is a robot with a filter unit capable of filtering the dust particles from the Martian atmosphere and this feat was achieved during the virtual learning environment. I am sharing this one example among several to show how with the right teacher training, global opportunities, tech support and school culture, our students can achieve the impossible. It is due to such initiatives Oakridge International School, Bengaluru is known as the first choice for parents who are ambitious for academic excellence and the development of the skills, attitudes and behaviors required for the future.

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