Stalwarts 2022

Education Stalwarts 2022 | Brinda Srinivas, Founder & Director – Tenbroeck Academy| Leaders in Education

A visionary is more of ‘we’ and less of ‘I’ – this concept plays a key role in an educational institution. Leadership and teamwork are the warp and weft of the dynamic fabric of organizations. We believe in a holistic education that includes academics, sports, art, life skills, character building, and so on. Our vision can only be achieved if it is shared by all the people involved in the institution. We believe in empowering our teachers and staff within a framework that we have created. Unless everybody is able to bring their personality to work, there is no joy in the work, and when there is no joy in the work they cannot implement our vision. I not only think of “how to make students’ education interesting?” but also about “how to make work challenging and exciting for teachers and my staff?”
For me, creating leaders does not mean assigning one person a team and asking him/her to execute certain goals. It is about giving the right task to the right person. I have always been a keen observer and I try my best to help a person take the next step in their life. A shared vision and empowering my team to function in a framework created by them also helps in this process. I meet the teachers and staff on a regular basis to trigger their creative energy and spark ideas out of it. Also, learning to give and receive feedback is critically important for a leader which is how we can help budding leaders.

Since I am mostly involved with children, I try to keep myself in the same mental state as theirs. As adults, instead of carrying a mountain full of responsibilities and the pressure of reaching goals, we forget to see things in the most simplistic ways. My team members always point out my cheerful attitude and joyful nature. My team feels I am fair and at the same time very particular. They know and understand that we enforce our policies and that have a shared vision. When people are functioning within the framework that we have created, I am a friend to them. I am also a support system for our teachers, staff, and help. This ensures that people look up to me with respect and love.

The pandemic was indeed the most challenging part for me and my team. We took the concept of Montessori Education home and wanted the hands-on experience to be continued. Our staff and teachers would create a lot of learning materials by using various products and deliver them in a fortnight to all the children including those who were out of town. This helped the educators demonstrate the use of learning materials online and the children were able to repeat it at home.

I strongly believe in a ‘healthy work culture’. If my team is happy with what they are doing, they can give the best performance. When it comes to them being the face of the brand, their passion for what they do automatically speaks for itself. Ultimately, our educators play a big part in implementing our vision of educating our children. The brand is created only when the entire team shares the vision and believes and lives the vision. A good brand is a confluence of what the team thinks, what the management thinks, and what parents and children think about the institution. We genuinely believe that our parents understand us in the same way that we look at ourselves.
Fostering a happy work environment in which one can express their own thoughts and ideas is the best way of motivating teachers. However, making value-added knowledge more accessible and helping them to sharpen their skills can also be a good way to do so. It is also important to recognize their efforts as handling children is never easy. The management should not impose unnecessary rules on minute matters so as to give the staff freedom of self-expression. Teachers must enjoy coming to school. Happy teachers make the children happy and similarly, happy children make teachers happy. I am compassionate to my teachers and staff and help in understanding their problems. At the same time, there is no compromise on quality.

We believe that child is the hero. The child is the learner and the teacher. The children, teachers, and staff work together to make Tenbroeck a happy place. My administration team has always extremely interactive; they have often pointed out a few qualities of mine that they love, which push them to do better always.

Every person goes through one situation or the other where he starts to overanalyze himself or form self-doubt; the zeal to keep going despite any circumstance takes a huge amount of willpower. A lot of time and effort went into reimagining the way the Montessori activities had to be offered to the children.

Our teachers were tense about online glitches as well as being judged by the parents during online classes. We had to help the teachers transition from offline hands-on activities to an online demonstration of activities with hands-on materials. My patience, dedication, and perseverance enabled that kind of smooth and seamless transition from in-person to online activities. We had a month of practice sessions before the commencement of the online classes. A lot of attention to detail enabled the smooth transition of teachers from practice sessions to actual online classes.

I believe there is a solution to every problem. My ‘never give up’ attitude became contagious and the team is ready to face any kind of challenge. My executive function skill set has become an asset to the institution. My team was inspired and motivated enough to help them perform and present work to the best of their ability and skill. I reassured them that we may face some challenges which we will address in due course. Staying cool and working to the best of our ability will take everyone a long way. Once you develop this, there are several perks that come along with it like, you grow stronger, you develop a healthy emotional intelligence, and the fear of the unknown keeps decreasing.

My message to the upcoming professionals in the field of education is, firstly, love the child. The child must be the centre of your universe. Secondly, the phrase of being a ‘born leader’ is a myth; everyone faces challenges, learns new things over time, and then gets to be a leader. As an educational leader, one should take time to grow practical skills, and adjust their style to meet the complex demands of the community. While you are making positive changes around you, it is always important to continue evaluating and improving your own leadership competencies.

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