Leslie Ann Fernandes – Science Teacher – Chemistry Department
Leslie Ann Fernandes, the current Science teacher at Children’s Academy, Mumbai, has been teaching at the school for over seven years during which she received several awards, the most notable of them being ‘The Best Social Action Award’ by the Indian Development Foundation and the National Award for the ‘Best teaching practice using technology’, by Teacherathon, Lilavati Podar Educational Society, both in 2016. Ms. Fernandes shares her thoughts and insights with School magazine.
Please tell us about your school days and educational background.
With regards to my educational qualifications, I am a B.SC in chemistry and a B.Ed from Mumbai University. I’ve graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and since then have always been inclined towards teaching and science.
What inspired you to become a science teacher?
There is a famous Latin proverb which says ‘by learning you will teach and by teaching you will learn’, my inspiration to teach started when I started learning from my idol, my mother. My mother was a teacher of English and I adored her and loved learning from her, she is the first reason I ever wanted to become a teacher.
I was inspired to teach science during my graduation years in St. Xavier’s College where I admired the ease with which my teachers could teach the most difficult topics, they used varied techniques to peak our interest in science.
Over the years, what innovations have you brought in your teaching?
The B.Ed course can help you with strategies and all the possible theory with regards to teaching but it cannot completely get you ready for the real responsibilities that come with being a teacher. My first year of a being teacher I learnt a lot on the job, from being a multi tasker to being a counsellor and guide to my students. My biggest lesson was the virtue of patience, patience for my co-workers and my students. Since then I have never looked back.
Over the years I have been allowed to experiment with the following innovations in my teaching methodology:
1) Use of Gamification (Computer-based games/ quizzes) for teaching various Maths and science concepts.
2) Use of the method of storytelling (use of storyboards created through online portals).
3) Use of various audio-visual aids during teaching.
4) Use of a flip classroom.
5) Use of collaborative learning and activity-based learning in the classroom.
Why do you think students fear Science subjects?
I strongly believe that students fear the science subjects because the subjects themselves have been very hyped up. Imagine if your parents and everyone you know around you keep saying that science is difficult, you have so much to study, you need to be smart or intelligent enough for you to be able to do science etc., the student naturally gets overwhelmed by the simple thought of learning science and thus stays away from it. If only the children were introduced to science as a part of their day to day life they wouldn’t fear it so much.
According to the recent studies, girls are way too under-represented in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In your view, what could be the reason?
STEM requires time, patience and a whole of commitment from the student. The student needs to be able to invest their time for research and experimental learning for a better understanding of the concept or branch under study. Unfortunately, we still belong to a society that restricts the ability of the girl student under the pretence of protecting her. For eg. a girl who has done her graduation in biotechnology and wishes to pursue her education in the field may have to move away from home or travel to the outskirts of various cities for further research or for a professional outbreak, her parents would rather have her take up a 9-5 job in the city which may not be related to STEM, close to home rather than sending her to pursue her career because they fear that she may not be safe. This fear may be legitimate considering the circumstances we live in.
I have been associated with Children’s Academy for the last 7 years, and for each of these years, I feel I have grown profoundly in both my personal and professional life.