Ms. Sangeeta Kapoor, the founder Principal of The Infinity School, is a dedicated educationist who has devoted over 25 years to the field of education. Children are the prime focus of all her effort in the schooling system. Apart from having worked with different boards like CBSE, IGCSE, and ICSE, she is also a trained IB-PYP facilitator. Her vast experience in schools in India and Dubai gives her a global perspective in multicultural environments. She is a firm believer in inclusive education and enjoys working with children with special needs. Ms. Kapoor is an alumnus of Delhi Public School, Mathura Road and also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education. She studied at Delhi University and is a certificate holder from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She embarked upon her career as a teacher in the year 1992 and has since worked with many prestigious schools. Ms. Sangeeta Kapoor was recently honoured at an event organized by The Rotary Club, New Delhi called ‘ABHINANDAN’ with ‘ Exceptional Educationalists Award 2019’.
Question 1. Please share how and from where you have embarked on your journey of being an educator?
Born into the family of a freedom fighter, from the very childhood I was inducted into a lifestyle that was based on values that discriminated actions and reactions into moral and immoral. There was a lot of focus on education in the family. I have done my schooling from DPS-Mathura Road and even before I completed my graduation, I found my calling into being a teacher and was fortunate to get into an upcoming school in East Delhi as an intern in the year 1992, and ever since there has been no looking back. I completed my professional degree while being in the job. It has been more than 2 decades since I have been in the field of education. Over the years I have been associated with many prestigious schools in India and abroad. I have worked with diverse curriculums; CBSE, IB, IGCSE, ICSE at different positions. Each association has only made the journey more enriching.
Question 2. What kind of support you can provide to teachers and fellow educators?
We all have unique skills and knowledge that we have gained over the years of experience, so it will be my honour if I can be of any support to fellow educators. I also feel the more you share the more you learn. A few ways that I can think of by which I can extend my support are:
- Answering their queries related to career advancement on Forum.
- Mentoring and guiding fellow educators.
- Organizing webinars or workshops for the community.
- Sharing my thoughts through blog or write-ups
Question 3. How did you deal with the challenges that you faced during the transition from an individual contributor role to a leadership role and how did you overcome those challenges?
Initially, as a teacher, my worth as a worker was typically defined by getting things and goals done by myself. Letting go of that “me” mindset was a little tough, but holding onto it would have limited my effectiveness as a leader. As a Principal of a school, my role is to think bigger and guide others to achieve that vision. Now, my success is measured by the outcomes I produce for my organization as I help my team to work more efficiently and effectively.
Question 4. How would you describe your leadership style?
I firmly believe ‘Actions speak more than words.’ I like to lead by example. I lead from the front by taking action, demonstrating what needs to be done, and keeping my team organized to make sure we’re all on the same page and contributing equally. I am completely involved and have my hands in the day to day activities of the school. Communication is one of my greatest strengths. I also lead by facilitating open communication and trying to bring out the best in every team member.
Question 5. What advice would you give to a new teacher?
I firmly believe a teacher can only facilitate the teaching-learning process if he/she continues to learn themselves. My advice to all teachers new or seasoned will be to never kill the curiosity in you, always have the fire to know more and learn more. As teachers, we need to ignite the curiosity in the students making learning purposeful for them.
Question 6. What would be your ideal school environment and how would you encourage that kind of culture?
Unfortunately, we grow up in a culture where ‘to question’ is ‘to question the authority’. If as a school we do not build enough scope for children to evolve from within, then the process of education will be hollow. An ideal school environment must foster creativity and innovation, where students have the liberty to ask questions freely. Each child gets required scaffolding in academics and there is equal focus on building individuals with strong values and character. This can be achieved by taking the route of child centricity through employee centricity.
Question 7. How would you develop an inclusive environment in your school?
The most effective way to build an inclusive environment comes from forming meaningful connections with all the stakeholders in the school. I believe a safe, caring, committed and engaging institution that fosters attainment of physical, spiritual, intellectual and creative potential of every individual student by adopting appropriate learning methods, philosophies and systems is inclusive in true sense. And the vision, mission and the purpose of our school only aims at building such an environment
Question 8. As the position of a Principal requires intense time management, how do you organize your day to meet the plethora of requirements and commitments required as the School Principal?
Well, there are a number of daily tasks and responsibilities that we have to accomplish successfully to ensure the smooth running of the institution. I enjoy my work as a Principal. And maybe that is why, I do not face extensive or dominant challenges. I feel effective management of time is one of the major strengths that have helped me in coping with the pressures of work and requirements of the job. I have the capacity to manage different pressures at the same time without losing my cool and handling each task with equal perseverance. Another aspect that I feel I am strong at is man-management. And this is for my ability to accommodate and adjust with people of different skill sets and mental ability with ease. Yes, one thing that I have to constantly meet up to is our parents’ aspirations. Today’s parents are well informed, more inquisitive and focussed in terms of their child’s learning. So, I make sure that school and home learning approaches are in sync with each other. We keep our parents engaged by conducting sessions with them like coffee morning sessions, workshops, seminars and sessions on various aspects of learning.
Question 9. What is your opinion on the use of technology in classrooms? Were there any challenges that you faced in integrating technology?
I believe technology is a great enabler in the teaching-learning process. It has positively impacted the administrative work of teachers, helped them in customizing learning interventions for their children and also improved the ability of children to explore inside and outside the classroom. Use of technology in school also brings students in sync with the real world and they are better prepared for the challenges of post-school years. But as they say, every new innovation comes with a new set of challenges, the immersion of students in digital technologies has created additional demands for teachers to be more vigilant on their online and offline behaviours.
Question 10. Do you feel there are any gaps in the present education system? If so, how do you feel one can fill those gaps?
Our education system has come to measure success with standardized tests. While equal tests are scattered across classrooms, schools, and districts, the quality of education received in preparation of these tests varies tremendously. The education students are receiving is aimed at improving standardized test scores: the education system is teaching how to take a test. Not only do these tests dictate the curriculum, but also what is deemed important for each given level of education. These standardized tests do not take into account learner differences, out-of-the-box thinking, or the individual qualities, talents, and passions of students. As standardized tests have become the foundation for education, creativity in classrooms is stifled and reckless means of achieving higher scores are encouraged. If we can change how we approach education, we have the potential to produce future thought leaders. To equip our future generations schools have to play an increasingly different role of ensuring that children not just acquire knowledge but also have the capacity to attain new skills in the fast-changing world today. Independent and structured thinking skills; creative and critical thinking skills; comprehension and communication skills; reasoning, research, and analytical skills; self-management and socio-emotional skills are foundational skills and need to be honed.
Question 11. Your message to your readers.
The purpose of education is not limited to being literate and acquiring theoretical knowledge. The tacit principles of education are to influence the mind, character and physical activities of the child in a way that he/she is able to apply the learning for the progression. I firmly believe that intelligence and talent can only be magnified and developed when each child is extended due support, attention and the right environment of self and society. As educators, we should aim at providing an intellectually challenging learning environment that encourages young learners to become creative, logical and critical thinkers, besides being responsible citizens.
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