The past few months have done much to stagger the progress of education in a child’s life. Through the multiple lockdowns, various strains and changing Covid-19 protocols, Akanksha had made it a point to stay connected with students, families and their community. As we wrap up this annual academic year, it is the time to shed light on the anchoring and supporting presence of Socio-Emotional & Ethical Learning (SEE) learning in Akanksha’s story.
Socio-Emotional & Ethical Learning (SEE), is a creative learning tool aimed at providing socio-emotional support while honing fundamental skills and is developed by Emory University in partnership with the Dalai Lama Trust. Currently, all 21 Akanksha schools employ SEE practices as part of their daily timetable where practices include quality circle time, check-in activities, meditation and so much more!SEE learning does not end at Akanksha students, it’s a practice well-inculcated in the daily routine of our parents and teachers. Not only do our counsellors facilitate SEE activities in the classroom, but also practice these exercises for their personal peace of mind and overall well-being.
SEE Ka Safar
A unique event designed to showcase best SEE practices and transformative school stories, SEE ka Safar brought together key Akanksha stakeholders – staff, students, and leadership to celebrate the impact of grounding practices in the lives of the Akanksha family. Opened with a meaningful lamp-lighting ceremony, the flickers were symbolic of the SEE principles – hope, resilience and courage; values needed to pull us through these tough times.
Inaugurated by a student-led check-in exercise, Grade 10 Shrutika Phogate guided the audience to think about how they were feeling and to connect those emotions to nature. A routine ritual of feeling circles, the event was kickstarted with strong and calming responses like ‘steady as a mountain’ and ‘bright as the sun’. Aligning with the themes of holistic learning and personal growth, SEE Ka Safar spanned across two virtual tracks for the entire organisation.
Akanksha’s Journey of Transformation
SEE learning has been a pivotal part of Akanksha’s roadmap to reimagine education. For our students, teachers, parents and staff, SEE learning goes well beyond being a classroom practice or school curriculum. The journey of SEE at Akanksha has been an upward climb, catalysing change one practice at a time.
- 2016: Youth development, a core area of SEE learning emerges as a new concept in the School Development Reviews
- 2018: Akanksha seeks to strengthen existing hub of socio-emotional activities such as quality circles, peer groups, empowerment sessions by structuring it via a robust, well-researched framework
- 2019: 3 Akanksha leaders attend global launch of SEE Learning in New Delhi. This dynamic curriculum aligns with Akanksha’s Student Vision of empowerment, self-sufficiency and communication. Soon enough, School Leaders are oriented with the programme and SEE learning becomes a gamechanger for schools.
- 2020: A group of Akanksha members including SLs, teachers, coaches & counsellors sign up for a 14 day SEE Learning training. A smaller core team attends Cognitive Based Compassion Training (CBCT) with a focus on tailoring to suit Akanksha needs.
- Onset of Pandemic: With difficult times in lieu and the beginning of virtual classes, SEE learning comes to the rescue as an anchoring tool for schools to ‘surf the change’. The SEE core team signs up as SEE Champions and begin engaging in ‘Seeking Circles’, a bi-monthly gathering of educators to deepen their understanding of SEL practices.
- Currently, 6 Akanksha SEE champions are undergoing training to become L-1 certified SEE educators.
A very special guest in attendance was Reshma Piramal, Head of Operation, SEE Learning India. A trained speech and language therapist, she shed light on the urgent need for creating a culture of compassion in the education landscape. Explaining the enduring benefits of SEL’s ‘training the trainer’ model, she talked about the importance of building a cadre of “awake” teachers to facilitate important conversations. “Investing in SEL practices is no longer a luxury, but a necessity,” she added on education going forward.
SEE Schools Showcase
In a one-of-a-kind approach to document, celebrate and share the myriad of innovative school practices that take place across the Akanksha network, SEE Ka Safar demonstrated these exercises & rituals via 2 unique Zoom tracks for the event. Schools displayed their work so far in SEE’s “personal domain”, with practices ranging from well-being check-ins, meditation sessions, resilience gardens, to positive affirmations, gratitude expressions and self-care exercises. The range of practices touched upon key themes – building self-confidence, managing negative emotions, making right choices and cultivating attention.
Short videos, brightly coloured presentations and quality-circle images were peppered in with inputs of students, staff and parents on how SEE learning has transformed their lives. The whole event was drawn to a close with a heartfelt puppet show, where our children’s favourite frog and giraffe facilitated a discussion on the role of SEE practices in daily life.
The Month of SEE Learning: SELbrating Inclusion Summit 2021
An annual gathering towards making systems more inclusive and focused on well-being organised by Ummeed Child Development Centre and Apnishaala, this summit was a culmination of voices from the SEE Learning Community. Akanksha champion and school leader, Chitra Vishwanath shared her insights, experience and knowledge on a panel discussion titled ‘Inclusion Does Happen – Launching a Collection of Inclusive Practices from Schools Across India’ with Kiran Bir, Riverside School and Urmila Chowdhury, Peepul.
As we move forward, learning from our past experiences, it is critical to reassess our idea of reimagined education to include mental and emotional well-being. By focusing on SEE practices that endure beyond the classroom, Team Akanksha aims to set a benchmark for the overall development of all children across the country.