Ms. Priyanka Rana – Biology Teacher , Career Study Point
A gold medalist and with a Masters in Zoology from the University of Punjab, Ms Priyanka Rana focuses on nurturing, fertilizing and catalyzing the growth of curiosity amongst learners in order to keep up the learners’ learning urge. Learners’ curiosity keeps the learning process strong.
After Ms Priyanka completed her Plus 2, she took a year-long breakbefore pursuing her Bachelor’s course. During this time, she took to part-time teaching and realized that she liked what she did and that’s how the journey of this educator began.
Being a student and teacher, Priyanka realized that many students fear Science as a subject and so, she always sought ways to innovate what she taught. She ties up scientific concepts with things we see around us and that is her striving effort, as a teacher.
Tell us about Career Point.
It is a centre where we have classes from morning to evening where children are given lectures, preparing students for competitive exams. Additionally, I give lectures at schools as well.
I like to innovate my teaching methodologies and so prefer teaching in such institutes where we can get creative with our teaching because we have to teach the best of students in order that they give it their best at competitive exams.
I joined Career Point after my Masters in 2015 as a part time member. I tried to switch to making a career in Dubai as a middle school teacher but I couldn’t owing to some ailments.
How different is it to coach at a career centre vs. teaching at a school?
I once had the chance to give a lecture at a school recently. Through that I got the chance to represent models with students and recently I also participated in a competition based on teachers’ innovations. Prior to that I have participated in Government’s Experiential Science Teaching Awards. There, I was short-listed as a finalist.
Teaching in schools can fetch me ample number of opportunities including extra-curricular activities. But undoubtedly, when you are part of coaching institutions and keep your eyes open, you can be part of activities similar to the ones I mentioned. In fact, my students have also participated in contests, they have represented their models in various competitions, etc.
How do you fare the biology laboratories at schools?
For biology, our life is a lab. I don’t think we need to be bookish in our approach.
In fact, when I check with students about the subjects they would like to opt for in future, they always express their interest in subjects other than Science. I sense a sort of phobia towards biology.
I have queried further to understand if this sense of fearhad anything to do with the way I taught but they explained that it isn’t about my teaching but that they don’t understand how they could take the subject forward.
I think, these subjects should begin at least from Std 8 for children to be a little more at ease with it.
What strategy do you suggest to make a biology or chemistry class interesting?
For instance, if we are teaching subjects like human physiology or plant structure,one can play with children’s imagination. To spark and catalyse their imagination, one can introduce videos so that it becomes more visual to children. That way children can grasp the subject and concept better.
Let’s say, we are taking classes on osmosis, then we can show them live situations on osmosis. This will help retain what they learned. This will also reinstate the benefit of osmosis.
The focus should be on the practicality of it all. We should strive to create a realistic situation in class.
Do you feel the pressure of targets when you teach at coaching centres?
I don’t feel that kind of pressure – on me or on my class. When we meet parents, they do pressurize us. They feel their children could perform better. They feel we should put some pressure on the students too.
Since grades matter a lot, how do you prepare children for scoring better grades?
We have a curriculum that targets those aspects and a schedule to adhere to. We have to conduct periodic tests. We also have doubt classes before and after tests.
We have 1:1 sessions with students so that they can individually clear their doubts. This is particularly useful for students who lack the confidence to clear their doubts in class. We give ample opportunities to learn and do well.
What are your thoughts on the various syllabi like, IB, ICSE, CBSE etc.?
I deal with students coming from different schools catering to various syllabi. I think it is all different presentations of the same content. The chapters are all the same.
For example, if you compare the state and CBSE syllabi, they are a lot similar. I feel the IGCSE and ICSE have vast content. So, I understand that the concept remains the same, it is the approach that differs.
Do you incorporate technology into teaching?
I prepare presentations and sometimes show YouTube videos in class. I also look for 3D videos to teach certain concepts like blood circulation etc.
How do you keep yourself up to date when it comes to Biology?
I have friends,in India and abroad, in the same career space. Every now and then I connect with them to keep myself updated. I also surf the Internet to understand the development of concepts. I also enrol myself for various kinds of competitions which deals with biology.
This nudges me to do a lot of reading and research and gives me a window to showcase what I know. I participated in the International Olympiad for teaching practice in 2018. Likewise there has been many competitions which I have been part of, which I believe gives me an edge. Being part of these competitions also expands my network with various teachers. Seeing what they do and our conversations keeps me updated.
Are you at these competitions through Career Point or is it an individual initiative?
This in an individual initiative I take up.
What are those frustrating moments you have faced in your teaching career?
Once a child’s parents, who were both dentists, came over and expressed that they aspired their daughter to be a doctor. They were doing all they could to prepare her and so did I. I could also see that they were putting the child through undue pressure and I did speak to them about it. Pressurizing people is unhealthy. Ultimately, she took to depression and finally chose to go for Bachelors in Nursing.
That episode was quite frustrating for me. To think of it, I wasn’t able to convey my message to her parents. If they understood better, perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Do you encounter these kind of students a lot, who face tremendous pressure imposed by parents?
Honestly, most of the students are very much interested in what they are doing. I have come across hardly 10-15 students, who are overtly pressurized by their parents in my entire career. In such cases, I always try to talk to their parents. I do online counselling as well. I always try to make parents aware that there are so many course options other than Medicine and that every student will have some specialty of their own.
What are your future aspirations?
I have currently completed my research program on aquaculture and fisheries. I want to work in the Neuro Science department and that is what I am currently working towards, at the moment. As a preparation for this, I would like to do my studies abroad in the US or in the UK.