Bal Baharti Public School, New Delhi
The most outstanding feature of Bal Baharti Public School of New Delhi, was the Director of Professional Development, who had prior served as the principal for over thirty years. He assembled a group of participants from throughout the school district, and as a result most teachers were unfamiliar with each other. Participants were also diverse in terms of their area of origin, and dressed in different clothing, some traditional, some modern, and some a brilliant mix. Despite arriving one hour late (a.k.a. Delhi Time) as a result of a serpentine route chosen by my driver, the Director invited me into his office to take time drinking tea and visiting. Puffs of white hair seemed to rest atop his ears, and the sparkling citrine ring he wore was overshadowed by his eyes, which were both watery and wise. After visiting, we walked into the classroom and teachers immediately stood up out of respect. With a high pitch and smile the Director asked everyone was doing. In Hindi he remarked to one student, and then burst into loud laughter. As a leader, his laughter and smile were contagious. They set the tone for a lively and fruitful discussion.
The questions asked by participants represented a deeper knowledge and wisdom, and it could be said that I learned more from them than they had learned from me. People genuinely enjoyed meeting each other, and activities that simulated high pressure team tasks were less stressful and viewed more like a fun puzzle. The workshop seemed effortless and seamless, but I could not put my finger on why that was. On the second day, my driver having learned his way, brought me to the school on time. Again I was invited to sit with the Director, and we talked less about education and more about family and the joy of our profession. He focused on his beautiful impressions of the American people, after visiting Detroit in the late 80s. Yet he expressed his concern that Indians who left to study abroad should return home to help improve its decaying condition. Then the conversation turned happy again. He spoke with great fascination about the symbols that adorned his office. Statues of Hindu Gods prompted a discussion around the importance of 3,000 year old Gitas on modern education. He gifted me with two books of sayings from the Gita. The Director was the reason for the effortless nature of the workshop. His cheerful and fascinated nature resonated with teachers. From this experience, I learned a lot about tone-setting, and how a positive and contagious tone (not one practiced, but rather acquired over weathered time), could put any course on a steady track for success. The workshop conclusion was led by the students, who in Hindi sang an adaptation of “We Shall Overcome.”
With song and laughter,