“In today’s dynamic world, every child is preparing to become a global citizen. It’s imperative to foster inter-curricular, inter-city, and inter-country school visits as they provide valuable perspectives on honing essential skills and how they are evolving.”
Kashmir lately saw a school synergy to explore innovative educational practices and exchange ideas. The campus collaboration between DPS Srinagar and Springdales School Dubai paved way to cross-cultural learning and teaching strategies that promote student engagement, critical thinking, and holistic development.
“This exchange of ideas fostered a sense of unity and a commitment to improve teaching practices,” said Zubair Ahmad, Chief Operating Officer, Springdales School Dubai. “Teachers from both institutions engaged in collaborative discussions, sharing their experiences, challenges, and successes in the field of education.”
As part of this collaboration that took place in September 2023, interactive workshops were organized, focusing on various aspects of pedagogy, including technology integration and inquiry-based learning.
A senior strategic planner with 20 plus years of diversified experience in the field of Project Management and School Operations, Zubair holds Twittan Certification from Adiyta Birla Group and Member Connect Certification from Netscape, New York. In India he has spent most of his career years with The Indian Express group and Network 18.
In a candid chat with Free Press Kashmir, Zubair talks about the campus initiative that signifies the commitment of both institutions to elevate the quality of education, ultimately benefiting students and the broader educational community.
What’s the story behind this collaboration?
This collaboration is deeply rooted in our shared commitment to continuous learning. In the ever-evolving landscape of education, teachers are eager to glean insights from the best practices available. With India’s new education policy taking shape, the DPS Srinagar team approached this opportunity with open minds, seeking to observe the innovative pedagogical policies implemented by Springdales, Dubai. Similarly, Springdales is equally committed to learning from the best practices globally.
While the infrastructure of our schools may share similarities, our primary goal was to explore and exchange innovative educational practices. This collaborative effort aims to foster a culture of learning, enhance teaching and learning methods, and promote cross-cultural understanding. Through this comparative analysis, we aimed to identify successful practices and areas where improvement is possible.
Can you give us a sneak peek into the intriguing topics and sessions that educators got to dive into during the workshop?
The workshop was a rich exploration of diverse topics, delving into International Best Practices, Collaborative Learning, Leadership Development, and Innovative Teaching Strategies. In these engaging sessions, educators actively participated in discussions, sharing global teaching methodologies and gaining valuable insights into leadership skills.
A central theme was the encouragement of collaboration, fostering a unity of ideas among teachers from both institutions. The workshop also spotlighted innovative teaching strategies, placing specific emphasis on Technology Integration and Inquiry-Based Learning. The exploration of the importance of assessments and feedback mechanisms was thorough, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping the overall learning experience.
Adding to the immersive experience, a firsthand tour of Springdales School Dubai’s state-of-the-art campus showcased modern teaching facilities. The visit culminated in reflection sessions, where delegates discussed key takeaways and collaboratively developed action plans for implementing the acquired knowledge.
What sets your school apart, particularly any standout features that visitors quickly notice?
One standout feature that visitors quickly notice is our school’s adeptness in utilizing and understanding student data. We’ve cultivated a culture of tailoring lessons based on students’ data, encompassing assessments like CAT4 (Learning Style), PASS (attitude towards learning), and ASSET (International Benchmark test with a specific focus on core skills).
This personalized approach to learning is a common thread that runs throughout our institution. As the complexity of concepts deepens with higher-grade levels, the principle of differentiation is ingrained in our teaching and learning culture.
In a world that’s changing faster than ever, the idea of integrating international perspectives into teaching sounds incredibly relevant. Could you share why you believe this is a must for educators today?
In today’s dynamic world, every child is preparing to become a global citizen. It’s imperative to foster inter-curricular, inter-city, and inter-country school visits as they provide valuable perspectives on honing essential skills and how they are evolving.
These cross-curricular dialogues allow us grasp the influence of students’ culture and the prevailing political scenarios on education. Educators benefit by staying ahead of emerging trends and understanding their impact on curriculum design.
Success stories often serve as beacons of inspiration. Could you highlight a few shining examples of international collaborations in education that you think could be role models for others?
There’re some remarkable success stories in international collaborations that stand out. For instance, collaborative efforts that span various curricula and countries, placing a specific emphasis on learning for Students of Determination, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) integration, and implementing teacher-student exchange programs in creative and liberal arts subjects, serve as strong benchmarks.
These initiatives showcase the power of incorporating and integrating a multifaceted learning environment, providing inspiration for others to follow suit.
Shifting our focus to Kashmir, how do you see this workshop making waves and contributing to the educational landscape in the region?
This workshop holds immense potential to make lasting waves in the educational landscape of Kashmir. Given the challenging cultural and political backdrop, where instability is a constant, prioritizing students’ comfort and well-being becomes paramount. Analysing students’ assessment data and tailoring learning approaches accordingly is a key strategy to alleviate stress and anxiety, at least in one aspect of their lives.
Collaborations like the one forged through this workshop will empower schools in Kashmir with invaluable insights into data utilization and effective pedagogical strategies. Observations and training workshops from this international collaboration will play a pivotal role in preparing schools to navigate the complexities of the National Education Policy (NEP). It’s a step toward creating a more resilient and adaptable educational environment in the region.
Stories of success often resonate deeply. Could you share any anecdotes or moments from your own school that really showcase the positive impact of international collaborations on teaching and learning?
Certainly! The influence of international consultants has been transformative for us. Their guidance prompted a significant shift in our perspective, steering our focus towards skills rather than the traditional emphasis on content. We’ve embraced the wisdom of the proverb: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” This philosophy has become integral to our teaching approach.
Now, we prioritise imparting 21st-century skills to our students, firmly believing that these skills empower them to navigate any academic challenge or real-life scenario with confidence. It’s a testament to the positive and lasting impact of international collaborations on our teaching and learning ethos.
Not everyone might have the opportunity to attend the workshop, but they’d still love to foster international collaborations. What sage advice would you offer to educators looking to embrace this in their own classrooms or institutions?
I would recommend embracing a “train the trainer” approach. Identify lead educators and provide them with comprehensive training, empowering them to champion the adoption of best practices within their schools.
This approach ensures a shared vision and allows these effective practices to permeate throughout the entire institution, fostering a culture of continuous improvement in teaching and learning.
Ensuring the long-term sustainability of educational collaborations is vital. Could you elaborate on the strategies or plans in place to ensure that the positive changes and practices resulting from this collaboration continue to benefit students and educators in the years to come?
I agree, ensuring the lasting impact of our collaboration is crucial. To achieve this, we plan to share documented experiences, facilitating knowledge transfer. Additionally, targeted training sessions will empower educators to seamlessly integrate best practices into their teaching methods. The incorporation of these practices into the curriculum, coupled with mentoring programs, will provide ongoing support.
Continuous evaluation mechanisms will help gauge effectiveness, while collaborative projects will foster sustained engagement.
By implementing these strategies, we aim to create a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring the enduring benefits of this collaboration.
But do you believe that the successful aspects of this collaboration can serve as a model for other educational institutions looking to enhance their teaching methods and student outcomes? If so, what key elements do you think can be replicated in other schools in Kashmir?
Absolutely, we view our collaboration as a potential model for other educational institutions seeking to enhance teaching methods and student outcomes.
Key elements crucial for replication include establishing clear educational goals, adopting effective teaching strategies, integrating technology seamlessly, implementing continuous assessment and feedback mechanisms, prioritising ongoing professional development, fostering community engagement, making data-driven decisions, embracing flexibility, encouraging collaboration, and promoting research.
However, it’s imperative to customize these elements to suit local circumstances for successful implementation.
Can you share the specific methods or metrics you will use to quantify the outcomes and effectiveness of this collaboration?
Certainly, we’re committed to measuring the impact of the exchange program. This includes conducting pre- and post-program assessments for participating teachers, administering feedback surveys to both teachers and students, undertaking classroom observations, tracking academic performance metrics, evaluating collaborative projects, and actively seeking stakeholder feedback.
These rigorous evaluation methods aim to provide a thorough understanding of the program’s outcomes and effectiveness, ensuring accountability and continuous improvement.