Loveena Raj

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Being a teacher is a calling. In my own way, I try my best to do justice to this calling.

High Achievement

This is actually a comment I left here:

What strategies might you suggest to ease the pressure of "high achievement"? 

I'm going to try to answer this question and I'll post my answer as a blog post too 😁 

Even before Covid hijacked our lives we had a lot of things going wrong. One of those was this pressure of high achievement. While students are being pressured to succeed, they are not prepared for failure. If at all the pandemic has taught us something, it is the fact that man will have to face failures before he finds a way to succeed. So, if students do not know to rise up from failure, they will never succeed. In the current academic setting both parents and teachers are guilty of pressurising students to excel. Failure is looked upon as a weakness. They are not taught how to manage the weakness in such a way that it becomes a strength. 

My strategy in my classes - My questions in class for my students, my formative assessments and class discussions are all formed in such a way that students will make mistakes. In fact I encourage them to make the mistake and when they do, I do not judge them, I correct them gently. The tests are also framed in such a manner that higher order thinking questions are tough. Under my watch, I let them fall and then stand up. It is NOT breaking them to build them. It is allowing them to recognise their own breaking points. Allow them to reflect and make their own decisions. For example in today's lesson I had a student who wrote a half baked answer. I patiently corrected it and asked him, so what mark should I give him if he turns in his original work. His reply was, but Miss, your answer requires me to write more, it is more work. I told him, more work, more marks, more rewards. Less effort, less rewards. Your choice. In the meantime, I also try to get them to focus less on the 'marks'. I appreciate the ones who work for the sake of work and not for the marks. Slowly, I get them to think and work effectively. 

The boys are truly the 'easy' part. It is the parents who are ... difficult? They cannot accept their son has scored 99. It has to be a 100. Well, my strategies in this aspect are a work in progress. There's no alternative to patiently addressing their concerns, listening to them and explaining why it will not be 100.

I'm a product of 'pressure of high achievement'. I've studied in India. I've completed my education (Masters) in India. When I was in 10th Standard (Grade 10) grim tales of students committing suicide due to failure in the Board exams were hot gossip material. My take on the whole issue was that it was cowardice to do so and one must understand that Tenth Board Exam was not the end game. Well, great scores were expected from me for Grade 10. I scored a decent 73%. Well, that definitely did not go down well either with my teachers or my parents. The day I told my father very respectfully that I will register in 11 F and take up Accounting, while he had visited the Principal and made sure I was registered in 11 A for Science and Math - My sixteen year old self realised that I had just done the most difficult thing.

As a teacher, when I look at my boys who wonder how they will face their parents with their 85% or with 30% - I tell them, be strong and be true to yourself. 

I have not forgotten how it felt looking at 73% in my 10th Board Exam results. I never will. Keeps me rooted and relates well with my students. However, I also went on to get 89% in my 12th Board Exams which was the second best mark in my school. Then, after that, I really did not care much for marks or grades!  

I'd like to leave you with this, my entire teaching revolves around making students realise the wisdom in - staying hungry, staying foolish. Yes, do read that again and again until you really really internalise it. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. 

This is me

  • What do I do? 
I teach. I oversee one small department. I love what I do.

  • What school or organisation you're affiliated with?
I work in Al Nahda National School for Boys which is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. 

  • Your BIG Question

  • Anything else that will help build connections in the community. 
The one thing that led me here was the word 'connections'. When I say connections I look forward to meaningful discussions about the current educational scenario and our vision for the future. I hope to learn and to teach. I believe that the moment we stop learning we slowly die; the moment we stop teaching we slowly rot. So, let's learn to live and not just exist. 
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