Friday, September 14, 2018

Talk at Sultan Ul Loom College of Pharmacy - Learning Mindset and Student Engagement

As part of the Pharmacy Council of India's Continuing Education Program, Sultan-Ul-Loom College of Pharmacy conducted a three-day seminar and workshop for thirty teachers of Pharma colleges in and around Hyderabad. As part of the workshop I was invited to speak on Learning Mindset and Student Engagement on September 10, 2018 by Dr. Anupama.

Everything is a Learning Problem - Learning Mindset
I began my talk by posing the question - would a person who played first-class cricket and did not progress further, be looked at as someone with a learning problem? The common idea is to blame it on politics and lack of recommendation but I said I saw it as a learning problem. I explained why by citing and explaining the concept of learning and Fixed Mindset and how it can affect learning in the classroom.

Psychologically Safe Places that Encourage Learning - I Don't Know 
We discussed the idea of Psychologically Safe places and how learning can only happen based on questions and what we don't know - not by knowing what we already know. It's time for teachers to be more secure and thus create more secure places to learn where students can freely speak up about what they don't know, make mistakes, ask questions and provoke discussion.

ABC - Activator, Behavior, Consequence
On student engagement, we discussed how once spaces are made secure, students will get drawn to learn because they are there with a purpose. This purpose or the activator can be better set by the teacher if they set goals or expectations early and set up the students for success. Similarly being able to give process orientation on how to maximise their return with the investment of time and energy could help. Perfect practice makes perfect - not just practice with the wrong routines.

Continuous Feedback Drives Progress
Mostly I stressed on the most important factor that drives progress - feedback.  Teachers as managers and parents, need to understand the importance of giving feedback. Without continuous and informal feedback, students may go off track. It's important to set these conversations frequently and have informal discussions on their goals and how they are faring. But most times we do not know how to give feedback - we are scared to give good feedback because we are worried they may become complacent and we do not give negative feedback because we are worried about losing relationships. But there are ways to do both and prod the student to improve and progress.

Challenge Drives Engagement
We discussed the importance of finding ways to challenge the students because challenge and interest go hand in hand. We discussed how Ramakanth Achrekar challenged his students by placing a coin on the stumps. More importantly we stressed on the importance of wanting their students to succeed and of devising ways to engage them. A good pointer here - how does a smart parent engage the child? Think of ways that continuously keep the child engaged and growing.

Energy and Enthusiasm - Set Context
When Dr. Anupama, Principal, Sultan Ul Loom College of Pharmacy, a good friend of mine, asked me how to make children come to class, I could not resist telling them that high energy and enthusiasm always works like magic. People want to be with people who are enthusiastic and energetic. To illustrate the idea of how we all have more than what we need of energy and enthusiasm we did the exercise of low energy and high energy in meeting people. Conclusions - we have the same energy  - and just need to set the right context as I had set for them. Access that energy and see how their students gravitate towards them.

I enjoyed the visit to Sulan Ul Loom college, perhaps the first time I went there thanks to Anu. Met the Secretary of the Society Mr. Zafar Javeed who it turned out, was an ex-MCC player. We chatted about cricket for a while and then it was time to head back after a fruitful session.

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