Historic Delhi has yet again managed to combine history with technological expertise and it was marvellous to journey through the corridors of time and visually experience India through the eyes of its many Prime Ministers. The Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya is a state-of-the-art interactive display at the Teen Murti Bhavan and I could have spent many more hours exploring the aesthetically portrayed snapshots of a country who is celebrating its 75 years of Independence-Azadi ka Amrit Mohotsav. The pièce de résistance was the augmented reality drone ride which gave a glimpse into what India could look like in 2047. I couldn’t help quoting Rabindernath Tagore and his ode to the country as it dreamed of its freedom all those years ago, “where tireless striving stretches it arms towards perfection.”

I have discovered this quality of ‘tireless striving’ as I work as an educational consultant with a group of dedicated educators from three different organisations in Uttarakhand, beginning to use the different aspects of reciprocity in their teaching, learning and assessment. There is now a beautiful rhythm to the methodical approach in delivery, from an agile and heuristic perspective, as every 3 weeks a learning snapshot is taken of the students’ progression. As this learning is analysed and evaluated, a key skill of working with data is emerging which involves a high level of reflection by the educator, from a perspective of the intentional learning that is taking place in the Sonrisa Learning Centres.

Celebrating Mother’s Day at the end of the 3 weeks was a powerful event which impacted the educators and mothers alike and helped build some relationships instrumental to the wellbeing and learning journey of the students. This was intentionally conducted using two different strategies between the two institutions; inviting the mothers individually to share a gift and the captured learning snapshots as a portfolio and hosting a collaborative event to celebrate the mother’s impact on the life of the child. At both occasions it brought tears to many eyes as some insightful tributes were paid to mothers. There are some common threads that I discovered of unconditional love and dedication, both in the educators and the mothers, who strive for a better life for their children and help them navigate these difficult journeys on a daily basis. This is a tiny glimpse into the lives of 120 students who come from underprivileged areas and yet have a community which is stepping forth to nurture and provide for their wellbeing. This is the India I treasure!

As we all know that teaching and learning in the classroom is a continuous journey and having understood the reciprocal strategies of prediction, clarification, questioning and summarising, the educators participated in a collaborative planning workshop for Quarter 2 of the programme (July-September). Based on the evaluative report and the data indicating that 80% of the students in Grade 1 have accessed the text at their level and 10% of these have moved beyond the level, the educators were able to focus on the nexts steps of the learning journey. The exciting statistics gathered from the students aged 6-9, at the end of the 7 weeks, was that 36% of them can independently construct sentences using basic 100 sight words and vocabulary from the Bagh story; a lot of them can draw inferences on why he was spotless and define where he lived, even spelling ‘dense’, ‘smelled’ and ‘chocolate’ effortlessly. The delight that they take in sharing their learning is infectious and if you visit one of the classrooms, I am sure that you will walk away with a smile (Sonrisa) on your face. Hinged on the Bagh story, the students will get an opportunity to explore the flora and fauna of the region and continue to explore major themes of health and nutrition; we want to top this off with stepping outside the classroom and visiting the local zoo. As we share these strategies with additional schools joining our network, our undivided attention and focus is on the holistic approach of growing the whole child. It is such a pleasure to hear this same message from the advocate for children, Dr Geeta Khanna, the commissioner for the State of Uttarakhand.