Arjun Madhra – PGT Chemistry – Delhi Public School, Ghaziabad International
When teachers emerge with industrial experience and evolve with the passion to make things better, the education sector flourishes. Most importantly, we don’t just generate school or college pass outs. We generate thinkers, inventors and better citizens. Meet Mr Arjun Madhra, PGT Chemistry and see what he has to say about teaching techniques in Chemistry.
Mr Arjun, please give me a brief about your background.
I have done my schooling at Bishop Conrad Senior Secondary School, Bareilly. Upon completing my 10+2, I did my B Tech in Electronics and Communications from Abdul Kalam Technical University in Delhi. After completing my B Tech, I worked with couple of networking companies because my expertise was in the field of networking and data communications. I worked with Aricent Technologies, the MNC based in France. Likewise, I worked in 2-3 companies before getting into the education sector.
At the end of 2013, my father was diagnosed with cancer and that prompted me to change my field from IT to school teaching. I left my job and went back to Bareilly. My mother has been a teacher for a primary school for approximately 25 years. I got a couple of home tuitions because of her reference. I started my career taking home tuition classes for Class XI and XII for Physics and Chemistry. Then, I plunged in as a full time school teacher and currently work with the Delhi Public School, Ghaziabad. I have worked with other prestigious schools as well, like DLF Public School, etc.
There has always been a personal liking for Chemistry. When I was in Class X, XI and XII, I liked Chemistry. I never took any supplementary classes or tuitions for Chemistry. I studied it on my own and I used to score the highest in my batch as well. So, I always had special appreciation for Chemistry, especially in Physical and Organic Chemistry. Even after my BTech, I did my MSc in Organic Chemistry because in Electronic and Communications, our curriculum is such that you are by default MSc in Physics. We study about electromagnetics, solid state devices, etc. It covers everything that is covered in MSc Physics. So, with my MSc in Chemistry, I am well equipped to teach Physics and Chemistry.
Tell us about the current school you work for.
I work for Delhi Public School under the aegis of Ghaziabad Society. That is why we call it DPSG. We have two societies here – the Delhi society and the Ghaziabad society. I work for DPSG International. We follow the International curriculum. I take classes for 10th, 11th and 12th standards.
The level of high school Chemistry is so high; what is your strategy to make your class interesting?
Today, we are in the modern day teaching. Chemistry is perhaps the branch of Science that impacts life of individuals, directly – the clothes you wear, the food you eat, everything you do is directly linked to Chemistry. What you take from nature or give to nature is Chemistry.
Our basis of teaching is making the classes interactive by way of integrating examples with what we teach. When we talk about carbon; for instance in organic chemistry, we talk about why carbon forms so many organic compounds. This leads to the talk of the self-linking property of carbon. We talk about the valency of carbon.
Likewise, if we are able to integrate with people and keep moving with change, then we are able to make a large network. I usually connect this with the social networking sites. If you find a friend in Facebook and then you see a common friend, whom you then befriend on Facebook, etc.
We integrate real-life examples so that concepts and subjects can be better imbibed. This makes the class interactive, or else, the class can become very boring. It is not about the quantum but the quality of teaching that we focus on.
Teaching is not a target-oriented job. But do you feel the pressure of how your students will perform in their exams?
Nowadays, teaching has become highly professional. Earlier, when we were students, it wasn’t so much so. Professional as in, there was not too much of steps involved in teaching. A decade or two ago, teaching was focused on the content part alone.
Now, a teacher is expected to be a multi-tasker. A teacher has to be good with documentation, conducting activities, leadingthe pack, content knowledge, etc. So, a teacher has to be an all-rounder in order to make the class worthwhile. Teaching is highly challenging nowadays. I have experience from the IT sector as well and many a times I tell my mother that I feel like switching back to IT.
Do you agree that a teacher has to be multi-tasking?
A teacher at a coaching institute is different from a teacher at a school. In a coaching institute, you focus only on academics. A teacher at school is a multi-dimensional entity because he/she has to focus on lot of aspects of development – personality development of the child, their intellectual development, academic development, etc.
From that perspective, a school teacher has to be a multi tasker. He/she has to give it his 100% for activities, academics, personality development and trouble shooting. It is the teacher’s duty to solve any issue that the child will come to them with. Being a multi tasker is a must.
For the children and the school, grades matter, right? How do you prepare children to get good grades?
To prepare children for good grades, firstly, you need to identify the current standing of each and every individual. In our hierarchy of examinations, we move on to the half yearly examination after the unit tests (UTs – UT1 and UT 2).
At the beginning of UT 1, we identify the strong, mediocre and weak children of each subject. Between UT1 and UT 2, we utilize whatever time we have at hand, effectively. We prepare worksheets based on their level. Once we prepare the worksheets, we then dispatch them to the students level by level – the mediocre students get the worksheets prepared for them, and so on. Once we are done with the evaluation, and realize that there are children going on an upward trend, we focus on them moving up higher and keep evaluating their performance.
The process is time consuming and tedious but it pays off well. We have, over the years, seen many students being benefited by this approach.
Does the school facilitate training for teachers or do you attend any workshops?
When I was in DLF Public School, I attended workshop of the Royal Society of Chemistry. When I went to that workshop, I worked over the microlab culture. You have a complete lab scenario in the school. When you don’t have this, you can create a micro lab of your own using a cellophane sheet, and things that we use day to day.
Through this you can demonstrate certain real life scenarios to students. When we take up school teaching and when we teach through live examples, it gets most effective. We keep giving teachers pedagogy tests and content tests every 6 months. We keep taking workshops for our continual development.
Does the school arrange for these workshops or is it a personal initiative?
DLF Public School arranged for the workshop twice. Also, my wife and I, we give the CENTA examination as well. The Teachers’ Proficiency Olympiad conducted by CENTA (Centre for Teacher Accreditation).
Is this in India?
Yes, very much.
I understand that you are now pursuing your B Ed…
I am currently in my 2nd year of B Ed. It does really help. To be very honest, I see people in the school teaching domain, who complete their B Ed by hook or crook.
But, when it comes to subject knowledge, it may not be a very great methodology. For me personally, I gave the examination only after thoroughly learning the content. So, if you do it religiously, there are many things you can grasp that can be used in classroom scenarios as well.
If not Chemistry, or if it were not teaching, what would you have been pursuing?
Politics and Sports! I have been a national-level cricket player for the under 22. My maternal uncle, based in the US, advised my mother that there is hardly any scope in Sports in India.
He coaxed me to take academics more seriously than sports. To be very honest, I took up engineering, which was not exactly my cup of tea.
Today, sports have a lot of scope in India as well. But, about 15 years back it was a different scenario. Now, there are so many resources to guide you to do well. You have the Pro Kabaddi League, the pro Cricket League, and Hockey League etc. With the corporates getting involved into Sports, you have lot many opportunities now.
Any frustrating moments in your teaching career?
Today I am suffering from fever for the past 4 days and my vocal chords are all swelled up. I have been advised by my doctor, not to speak much and this has been happening with me quite frequently now for the last 2 and half to three years. Within a gap of 3-4 months, I am suffering from some ailment or the other. My vocal chords are being over pressurized. This, at times, makes me frustrated.
Apart from that, I love everything about this career. The profession is evolving day by day. The mind set of children these days is so complex that you really have to very flexible to convince and persuade them. You have to be a tactical task master.
What are your aspirations for the future?
Moving forward, in a span of about 5-7 years, I am planning to open my school. Today I am PGT Chemistry. In a few years’ time, I see myself working as a coordinator. I have equal command over Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as well. Every year I give my Gate examination through my Engineering domain. So, eventually if I have my hands on resources I will open my own school.