One month into school and it already seems that there is enough to write about to fill a volume! To begin with a specially warm welcome to this first blog of Pathways Noida to all new families. I look forward to getting to know you better. The multiple Form mornings for different grades and the workshops on the PYP, MYP and the DP orientation will I hope have given you an initial insight into the school We have started the year on a good note – a beautiful new Primary block and a new Primary school Principal are a good way to start.
The Blue Whale Menace
I am beginning on a sober note, especially but not exclusively for secondary school parents. You will be aware of the high degree of publicity around the bizarre and destructive Blue Whale game. It is most of all, a symbol of our times. As adults we are uncertain about what is happening in the minds of young teenagers, especially because of the private world which technology promotes. We are also aware that anxiety, depression and peer pressure are higher in this generation of teenagers than ever before in human history. Elsewhere in this blog you can read about the indicators to watch out for.
However the way forward is what it has always been – ensuring a close personal connect with a child, discussing with them what is happening in their lives, being aware if they are struggling emotionally or if there is a change in their behaviour. There is no substitute for these. As parents I would urge a non-judgmental attitude, one which is founded in an appreciation of what they are. Showing your child how to improve or urging them to change is a tricky business when you are dealing with a teenager. It is necessary to do, but only in a way where they do not feel worthless. At this age although on the outside, they may seem confident and dismissive of your opinion, children are extraordinarily vulnerable to your opinion. Building up self-worth is probably the most valuable gift you can give your child, one which will take them further in life than winning medals or getting the highest grades.
In school we are in the process of discussing this nasty phenomenon with children.
Long before the Blue Whale phenomenon hit the headlines, we had planned a focus on what we call Wellness – a large term which covers mental health, social & community health and physical health. In this year we are focussing on mental health, most of all on the development of resilience. While loss, failure, anxiety are a normal part of the human condition, we need to teach people today how to deal with these. Learning from failure is one example. Knowing how to calm and focus your mind at times of high emotion is another. Managing stress and high expectations is a third. These are lifelong lessons which we all need to learn – and we are making a start with launching focussed attention on this. Meanwhile for parents I can suggest two resources easily available on Youtube. I had shared with Primary parents a TED talk on Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth. Some of you will know of it already. Also have a look at a TED talk by Guy Finch which we will be sharing with secondary school students.
Council of International Schools Accreditation
As I have shared earlier, the school is seeking accreditation from the Council of International Schools (CIS). This is a rigorous process which looks at all aspects of the school, going beyond the academic. In the upcoming week we will have an initial review visit by a representative from CIS. The Visitor is Jenni Thompson who has had wide experience with international schools around the world. She will be reviewing administration, finance, academic processes and meeting different members of the school community. This is part of our ongoing process of seeking school improvement.
Safety Lockdown drill
The secondary school had a very succesful safety drill on the procedures for Lockdowns. We have regular drills for evacuation in case of fire or internal threat. However there are possibly times of social disturbance or an armed intruder when we need to huddle inside. Staff have had a series of trainings on this and last week students went through a Lockdown drill after being taken through the process. We plan to do a similar but more lowkey version for Primary school as we do not want to raise anxiety in our littlest children.
IC3 Fair and Conference
We were happy to host a huge univerisities fair in conjunction with an international careers organisation called IC3. Over 60 universities from around the world were in school to meet students and parents and to run workshops on general areas like Careers without Maths, or careers in Aviation. Followingthis, the school participated in a huge international conference with representatives from schools around the country and 160 universities from around India and the world. We were proud that our students opened the conference with a music performance from secondary school and a yoga performance by Grade 4. It was a nice way of highlighting our children’s varied talents.
I am delighted to share that our university counselor Deblina Chakravorty won the Counselor of the Year Award at the IC3 conference. This was at the end of a detailed process where schools nominated with evidence. A short list was created by a jury and the final decision was made by them. The jury consisted of Principals from different schools around India. We are all very proud of the work done by her.
Dr Shalini Advani