Extending a Hand of Partnership: A Participant’s Experience at the KER National Summit
The KER National Summit that took place this past weekend was attended by over 500 guests, all representing a range of educational organisations from across the country. One of our attendees was Abhilasha Sharma, a secondary school teacher at Jindal Vidya Mandir, Vidyanagar. It was her second time attending an annual KER National Summit and she left the experience refuelled to implement her learnings back in her school.
After her experience at the 2018 KER National Summit, Abhilasha and her colleagues took this idea of a student-led educational experience back to their school and created their own version, which they fondly call JKER, or Jindal KER, an experience led by a mixture of students from Jindal Vidya Mandir and nearby schools that left such an impact on student body, faculty and administration at the school, that it has been made an annual event. Still full of inspiration and drive, Abhilasha returned this year, eager to build on her experience and deepen her impact back at her school.
This kind of conference, co-facilitated by educators and students, in addition to providing inspiration can also be an eye-opening experience for many. Abhilasha experienced a shift in her own mindset towards the belief that kids are capable of making decisions regarding their own education and are valuable and willing thought-partners when given a chance. Seeing partnership come alive at this year’s National Summit, Abhilasha is determined to foster more partnerships in her own school.
Abhilasha acknowledges that the notion of forfeiting control can be jarring, “As teachers, sometimes we have this superiority complex that tells us ‘we are the adults, we are the teachers, so you need to listen to us,” but seeing the proof in front of her through children beautifully facilitating sessions she participated in was the push she needed to make more changes in her own school. “Teachers have experience but students bring this amazing curiosity and creativity to the table and that together achieves a great balance.”
For Abhilasha, student-educator partnership cannot begin and end inside the classroom and school building. “We need to be taking student opinions into consideration, right from the management committees sitting on state boards to students in the classroom.” Until such a time that we have student advisory committees working with officials at a state and national level, Abhilasha will continue to do her part in her classroom by extending a hand of partnership to her students. In a short message for them, she says, “I want you to be with me through every step. From when I am making the blueprints for my lesson plans to when I conduct them. That is the level of partnership I want with you.”