What sets us apart? Why is the Parikrma model different and has proved to be a successful and sustainable model? Here are a few of our practices that we collectively call the “Parikrma Way”.
The final leap: It is here that children take their final steps of their formal education before they start earning a living. The final journey in the Parikrma Model is higher learning through undergraduate and graduate college as well as vocational training. Given the nature of the backgrounds the children come from and the intense pressure to start earning a living, it is important to be with the child through this final leg of education journey before being placed in a job. We provide scholarships to children to pursue college or vocational training.
The last mile: What happens to children after they complete education? It is not easy for individuals from difficult backgrounds to blend and flourish without difficulties in a new professional environment. This is where we come in. We offer students support, and counselling on various nuances of professional life – including coping with new environments, team work, leadership development and lots more.
USSR: Every single day for 40-minute straight, the entire school – including children, teachers, staff and office help travel into newer lands, realms and worlds through a book. We call this enriching exercise the USSR – Unsupported Sustained Silent Reading. During the USSR hour, books of varied genre available at our libraries are savoured by children and teachers alike – following which children are encouraged to write brief synopsis, and add new words to their Vocabook.
Book club: Picture this: Parikrma children from Grade 5 on Skype discussing Oliver Twist with fifth graders from a school in the USA. Yes, that’s precisely what we do in the Book Club. An initiative supported by the UNESCO – Parikrma in association with international schools in the USA has formed the Book Club – Twice every month, children from Parikrma read a book, and discuss, share their perspective, opinions, likes and dislikes and expectations with children reading the same book at a school in the U.S. Our children have become virtual book critiques.
Architects of green: At Parikrma, every child’s idea is important and their voices and thoughts are weaved into actual programs and actions oftentimes. We are currently working towards setting up a learning centre and our children are helping us design the “green” building. Right from interactions with architects who specialize in eco-friendly and sustainable green structures, to hours spent on the internet researching on concerned subjects – a few select Parkirma children will consult with the architects to build the school – in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.
At Parikrma it is well understood that technology is much more than just having computer labs in schools. Teachers are actively encouraged to use technology in their classrooms to make sessions more interactive and visual. Two classes in each of the schools are designated as virtual classrooms where lessons are conducted virtually. We have the Edurite room in each of our schools – Based on “Cognitive Learning Approach” – the most widely accepted theory of the learning process – the Edurite/ DigiClass provides a multimedia resource library with huge up-dated repository of animations, several hours of experiments and diagrams.
All our four schools have a classroom connected “digitally” – A teacher from one school virtually substitutes an absentee teacher from another school. Even special classes, best lectures are delivered through this manner, making the best discourses available to all students across centres.
Quality managers: Parikrma is one of the very few schools in the city to introduce the policy of instating Quality Managers (QM) in all its Centres.
The QMs get an overarching, yet a bird’s eye view of the functioning of all schools, but without getting into operations – All school heads are given autonomy as we recognise the need and freedom to experiment, and value each individual’s ideas and capabilities.
INNOVATIVE DISCIPLINE INITIATIVE
A strict no-beating policy! Proper discipline cannot be brought about by punishment. It can only happen if children truly understand what would be good for them. That can happen if they see live examples and experience it themselves. Keeping in mind the age factor, the discipline module has been crafted with appropriate consequences catering to different age groups. The focus is on correcting the behaviour of the student rather than correcting the student.
Yellow Room: Football is not just another ‘sports period’ at Parikrma, its nuances are adopted into various founding principles, like the Yellow Room. A title inspired by a yellow card issued by a referee to football players who foul – similarly, children at Parikrma are sent to the Yellow Room if they err. In the yellow room, empty and yet brightly painted, a child is encouraged to reflect upon the incident, fill up a form addressing the occurrence, followed by a discussion with a teacher.
THE REMEDIAL INITIATIVE
A straightforward principle we abide by is “no child should be left behind”. We understand that some children are naughty and difficult and we address them with care and firmness. Punishments can make them regress further in their studies. Assigning tasks with love and respect encourages a child to respond.
We have two remedial teachers in each of the 4 schools. All remedial teachers are trained to do MultiLit and Differentiation. Orient Longman level reading cards and Math Lab material are used extensively. Remedial teachers regularly interact with each other, and with class and subject teachers, and with volunteers to evaluate the effectiveness of work and gather opinions for refinement.
Summer school: The summer school is held for three weeks after closing of school for students of middle and high school requiring remedial help to bridge gaps in learning. The concepts taught will be reinforced with worksheets, weekly assessments and remedial action. This has helped a lot of students improve their performance, making them more confident and a better performer.
THE EMPATHY INITIATIVE
We call ourselves a “humanity” foundation for a reason. It’s a practice that’s inculcated in each child and teacher at Parikrma. Gratitude and compassion outline the signature personality trait of Parikrma. A simple way in which we inculcate this trait in each of our children besides everyday teachings is through the concept of the Thankfulness Tree. A large mural, the Thankfulness Tree is ‘greened’ and nurtured each week, by children pinning a butterfly with a note expressing gratitude towards someone/something every day. This innovative practice encourages a child to reflect and acknowledge, and be grateful – a habit that’s innate more than a mandatory practice.
Dogs in school: We want our children to empathize and be the voice for the voiceless – we want them to grow up loving animals. To encourage this positive emotion, we have a dog at each of our schools. Picked from the streets, these dogs are named after Shakespearean characters – children pet, and play with the dogs, inspiring passion for animals and spreading and encouraging the same emotion in the slums.
Morning assemblies: It is the coming together of the whole school, where everybody feels a sense of the school ethos. Exposure to learning other than the regular curriculum is the main focus of this exercise. We introduce basic values through assemblies on a regular basis. It’s a great platform for each child – they not only get to improve their public speaking skills and self confidence, but through activities also touch-base upon important values and morals.
Hugging – Today, several schools strictly follow and impose the ‘no touch policy’. At Parikrma, we believe a “hug” can cure everything. Children at Parikrma greet teachers and almost regularly, walk into the founder’s room for a warm hug. This wonderful practice is a testimonial to astonishing transformations – Children are easily able to get over their inhabitation and there is a positive sense of unsaid, yet powerful sense of “acceptance” restored in the minds of these children. They not only feel accepted but receive constant warmth and encouragement through a simple hug.
Buddy system: Children need continuous encouragement and we always find innovative ways to be of constant support. To help them complete their everyday assignments and promote team work and group studies, we have introduced the Buddy System.
THE SENSITIVITY INITIATIVE
We have professional psychologists in each of our schools. We work with several organizations to leverage better policies and practices for teachers to adopt. One such programme is the adolescent community. Through this program, the adolescent is able to use the inner capabilities and new perspectives in dealing with the emotional and social challenges that accompany adolescence.
ICC and GRC:
The Inward Change Conference and the Group Relations Conference are two separate programmes organized for teachers every year. The conference is an outbound residential programme held over 10 days each year, and all teachers are given equal opportunities to be a part of this learning module. Through these unique programmes, teachers are exposed to various alternatives to optimize personal effectiveness.
Circle time: This is quality time shared between the class teacher and her students. Conducted once a week, Circle Time enhances the bond between the class teacher and her students and amongst the students themselves.
Silent mindfulness: At Parikrma, we start the day, academic meetings everything with silence. This simple but highly effective exercise is practiced to bring about a sense of calmness in our children, to quieten the noise outside and within.
Personality type: Each of our school is tagged and assigned with a certain title that manifests its personality – For instance, this year – Nandini Layout is a questioning school, Sahakarnagar is a researching school, Jayanagar is a no nonsense school, Koramangala a no excuse school. These themes not only uphold the stark personality of each school and its people but also encourage all to strive to keep the theme alive – constantly owning up to the “focus” theme, which they are proud of.
Why English: We want to empower our children with the language of the privileged. At the core of the Parikrma Model is the delivery of the best possible English language education so that the children can have equal access to the best opportunities. English is crucial to competing equally since higher education and most good jobs require an excellent grasp of the language.
PERSONAL GROWTH INITIATIVE
The Personal Growth Lab (PGL): In association with reputed organisations, the PGL program is being introduced to train teachers. The program initiates participants to develop their capacities to identify and rely on feelings, impressions, expectations, and thoughts that are in the self.
PROFESSIONAL GROWTH INITIATIVE
In-house training: Every month, training on various learning, innovative modules and methods are conducted in the school for the teachers. Workshops and field trips are also held. Once every month, a talk followed by interactive sessions with talented and inspirational speakers has helped create a vibrant and cross-cultural, curiosity-driven “will” amongst teachers.
Teachers attend education conferences across the country regularly to gain insight into the current status of education practices and contribute to policies and advocacy for better practices.
Leadership Training: To develop a second stratum of leaders in each school, promising teachers are chosen and they sit through a day’s training by the ETC.
Story-telling: Storytelling has been a fantastic tool to bond with little children in Parikrma. In our classrooms, teachers read aloud and share different kinds of stories. Our extension activities have been role plays, musicals, story maps to promote literacy and multiple intelligences. We have had renowned trainers from the UK hold brief training sessions with our teachers on how to use stories to make content in our textbooks a lot more meaningful and interesting for our children.
Phonics: Kindergarteners begin their journey of reading and writing in English. Kids then decode words to read and write their spellings. They begin to write independently although their spellings will be phonetic. Alternative spellings are taught in classes for older kids. One-on-one training sessions through demo classes have happened in the classroom.
The outbound program: Parikrma is one of the few schools from Bengaluru to partner with the British Council on their Connecting Classrooms programme. Through this exchange program, teachers from all four Centres have visited Schools in the UK. These school partnerships give teachers and students a chance to collaborate with their international peers on curriculum-based activities.
THE ORIENTATION INITIATIVE
Unlike other schools, where orientation program lasts mostly for three days, at Parikrma the entire process lasts for good 10 days. Each year a new theme is set and programs are designed accordingly to meet the targets. The sessions always start with a community visit, introduction to the Life Skill Program, classroom management, with a complete low down of Parikrma programs, values, beliefs and the Parikrma Way.
THE PARIKRMA STRUCTURE
There is no hierarchy – no seniority, no seniors or juniors! Everyone is addressed as Akka (sister) and Anna (brother) – words such as ma’am, sir are never used. This exercise is a great equalizer; everyone is treated equally in Parikrma. We have created an environment of informality with no fear of hierarchy or bureaucracy. This has helped us break away from stereotypes.
Children can walk into teachers’, principal and the founder’s room without having to knock on the door. Our open-door policy further reinstates the feeling of oneness and equality in our children. It also builds trust, as children can walk into any Akka/Annas’ rooms at any point in time and will be accepted wholeheartedly for a conversation or just a hug.
Breaking away from the usual, Parikrma has taken its ideology of innovativeness even to its classrooms. All classes are named after a planet – starting from the Sun class right up to Pluto. This is one of our examples of departing from the ‘normal’ standards of doing things.
OPEN SCHOOL INITIATIVE
At Parikrma, one doesn’t have to drop names at the reception or wait for days to hear from the principals or the founder. Our gates are always open to people wanting to visit us. In fact, people can walk into Parikrma schools and if interested will be taken to classes to interact with students too.
All of Parikrma principles and actions are based on its beliefs. These beliefs form the core values and founding stones of the school…
A few of Parikmra believes:
- Those who love nature and children are those that still have some innocence left in them because both nature and children keep people grounded in reality without any cynicism.
- It is possible to be a religious, spiritual and good human being without following any particular religion. We believe that the work we do in our schools with honesty and sincerity is our way of leading a religious and good life. We believe that as a good human being we need to respect, understand and accept all religions. Parikrma does not believe in atheism or agnosticism, but pluralism. We believe in humanity.
- Self-exploration and internal dialogue is considered very valuable in Parikrma.
- In equality of human beings irrespective of nationality, appearance, gender, and beliefs. We need to ensure that girls are given respect and encouraged to explore new learning both in academics and sports. We believe that boys need to be sensitised to this and taught how to respect women in school, their community and the world at large.
- In the interconnectedness and interdependence of everything in life and that one cannot be happy in isolation.
- It is important to find rational explanations to most things. We believe in encouraging our children to have discussions on various issues ranging from current affairs, social issues, political ideologies and life itself. We do not believe in superstitions either obvious or in disguise because we believe that superstitions limit human creativity and critical thinking.
- It is important to excel and do one’s best. Success has to be redefined. We believe that the parameters of success are linked with respect and influence, than acquisition of material goods.
- We need to focus on quality in everything we do. We believe that quality is far more important that quantity and that if we do every single job with great care, we will be far more effective.