Ahana Mitra – Biology Teacher – Salt Lake Point School, Kolkata

Ahana Mitra, the Biology teacher at Salt Lake Point School Kolkata for last 10 years (with a total experience of 17 years) currently teaches the students of classes 8 to 12. Established in 1976, Salt Lake Point Schoolis affiliated to ICSE and ISC (New Delhi).

Role and responsibilities
My role as a senior faculty does not keep me limited to classroom teaching, conduction of assessment,designing daily lesson plans and laboratory work; it also involves solving students’ issues, discipline issues and also conducting co-curricular activities like quizzes, holding science fair projects and exhibitions during school hours.

Teaching adolescents
We all have so many myths regarding the functioning of the human body, functioning and behaviour of other animals and organisms etc. When a student comes up with such myths, then explaining the biological principle governing the fact is a satisfying experience.
The adolescents too have so many queries regarding their own growth process – so many misconceptions to be cleared – and all this done in a subtle way goes a long way in shaping the students growth in a normal and healthy atmosphere.
Once when we were doing the digestive system with the students of class nine, a particular student asked that what if we overeat does our stomach really burst? So I just explained to the student that it is not going to burst but when the maximum food holding capacity of the stomach is exceeded, the food will start going the wrong way i.e. “antiperistalsis” will happen and it results in vomiting. Though I explained there are other causes of vomiting, the student was relieved to know that the stomach never bursts!
So there are so many common instances, like topics on ecology and environmental issues where I can give lots of concrete examples to make their learning of concepts permanent and memorable.
The one thing I like being in the classroom is the exchange /interaction of ideas that take place between the students and myself, the numerous queries that they have regarding the topics they are learning. High school science gives lot of scope for sharing of extra information because of their exposure to the electronic resources and their ability to be able to relate their previous knowledge of secondary lessons (less of detailing) to higher secondary lessons (extensive detailing).

Challenges faced by STEM teachers
The biggest challenges facing educators in STEM subjects is to strike a harmonious chord with the current teaching-learning system. Staying within the boundary of traditional teaching and still incorporating teamwork, creative thinking and reflection are important parts of learning as the outcome of the project.
To tackle this challenge, the best way is to merge the projects subject-wise topic-wise or use it as an extension of the learning programme for the topic in question, where in the students see a point in doing so, keeping in mind the evaluative part and the learning experience for future situations.

An Ideal Science Department
In an institution, a science department should not only be well-equipped but also ample scope should be there for the students to be able to try out the theoretical aspects practically. Though all won’t be within the scope of many schools, the basic
principles can be put to test and inference drawn. The department can also promote an indigenous corner which will support student’s innovations or collections.

Advice for Biology teachers
My suggestions for biology teachers who want to get their students interested will be to go for knowledge management. Many of us tend to over-teach or under-teach a topic. That makes things difficult for students. Let them learn according to their level or interest in a subtle way – give as many live examples as possible to support your topic, e.g. mitosis a type of cell division, its significance is for growth and repair —so let the examples be a lizard growing back its lost tail, fractured bones joining … and many more. We need to help them grow their observation power and curiosity, then only will they embrace this subject wholeheartedly.

Contact Details:
Salt Lake Point School
Cd-249 Salt Lake,
Kolkata – 700064
Email: saltlake.point.school@dadooindia.com
Website: www.saltlakepointschool.org