Hope you are all safe and healthy. Despite the gradual lockdown lifting, its probably advisable to keep children home in the coming weeks.
We are working on the assumption that physical classes will start from Academic year 2020-21. This may evolve to comply with new norms, to partial opening, or even revert to online learning. Essentially, in the short-term, we don’t know if we are at the start, middle or end of the virus. So thought it would be useful to revisit some long-term stuff; learning, human capital and strategic planning.
Learning; This is always our first guiding principle and the basis of all planning at Neev. Continuity of learning is about age based transitions, and enriching experiences on a learning continuum for children; children's growth across all domains, and at all ages, is rapid and cumulative. Development and early learning provide a foundation on which later learning is constructed. The challenges of online learning for teachers, students and parents (especially of younger kids), in our community, were more than compensated by no learning loss for our children in the last 2 months. Online learning has created important implications we are now considering for our physical program as well; microplanning, flexibility of time/place/space, greater voice/choice/ownership to learners, digital connect across home/school, etc. When & if we need to resort to online learning, a lot will change and evolve based on the experience and ongoing research, with more time, than the overnight transition we had to make. The holidays are a much needed reprieve but its important to avoid summer slide for your child by finding the middle ground between structure and chaos through healthy holidays routines, controlling passive screen time, and building the right habits. A continuity of high-quality experiences is important to supporting children's development and always needs thought and engagement from us as educators and parents. The breadth vs depth dilemma is often captured as 'Less is more', but it is crucial to remember that less needs depth. The curated lists shared by our librarians with books for all ages, and our college counsellor for online highschoolers courses, at leading Global and Indian universities, are some guidance. In the flood of resources and websites that are emerging we are gathering some we find good on this webpage of summer resources that we will keep updating. We hope the lifting lockdown soon gives way to allow the outdoors too; while experts globally share thoughts on learning from home, at this point it's important that - kids go out and play!
Human Capital; The only real asset for a school is human capital; teachers, culture and continuous teacher learning. Our strength lies in constantly stepping up our capability balancing our internal growth with some lateral entries for expertise in both, teaching and administrative teams. Neev has a solid track record of growing leadership from within, visible across Early years and Academy in our academic heads, center heads, coordinators and middle leaders. But in the last few years, with growing complexity of programmes, we have also balanced this with mature leaders joining us and bringing great wisdom to our energy and vision, some of Academy's leadership and Central Admin team heads. Recent joinees include a leader with 20 years of IB experience to lead our Science department at Academy joining in June and our new IT head who came on board March (without whom the online transition would not have been as smooth). We wish exiting teachers well, remain selective with new recruitments, as also admissions, always strengthening our community in skill, attitude and values particularly.
Strategic Planning; COVID challenges all organizations and we thank our community for their continued support that allows us to think about Neev 4.0. This is organized around 6 pillars; Recognising Identity, Learning Driven by the Environment, Challenging Ourselves, Making Thinking Visible, Being Disciplined, and Contributing to Community. These pillars have been invisibly present in all we did, but we have now surfaced, articulated and refined them, to ensure their pursuit, through our governance and pedagogy via multiple projects. I invite you to read more about our strategic planning process for Neev 4.0 and share your thoughts. Neev 4.0 is about building sustainability, trust and impact through strengthening processes, strengthening vertical and horizontal learning alignment, change informed by data, and stronger systems for supporting our growing teacher community of 200+teachers. Non-profit Schools have one asset –human capital – that needs some infrastructure. Any strategy needs resources and in our case these are fees and donors. In compliance with government guidelines, we requested voluntary fee payments from parents. I wanted to thank the large proportion of parents who have paid their fees despite circumstances. All parent emails with specific needs for delayed payments of tuition fees have been handled mindful of individual needs with privacy. Neev is a not-for-profit foundation, and nonprofit organisations have lower flexibility than other organizations, and schools even lower given the time it takes to build teaching practise. All funds generated are used, and our biggest expense is salaries. We continue to meet all financial commitments to teachers, staff, vendors and facilities maintenance. It is our duty to be sensitive and responsible in these challenging times and our strategy balances frugality in all expenditure while ensuring delivery of best practise learning that is our raison d'etre.
All our updates for the last 10 weeks are on the COVID19 and online learning pages for both Early years and Academy. Our online learning sites will also remain active for a couple of weeks for the convenience of our community. And on that note, we close for two weeks now. Administration and leadership are back in school on June 8, librarians on June 15, teachers on June 22, and students on July 13...Inshallah. We hope to hold the graduation for our K2 cohort and our first DP bravehearts on July 18, a week after kids come back to school.
We are building a generation of happy, caring, well-rounded learners, and we know that isn't easy. And I am always grateful for the support of parents who are with us in deed and spirit on our endeavours, even as we recognise the need for stronger communication to truly be able to work together. The oldest and strongest emotion in mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear, is fear of the unknown. But as Nelson Mandela reminded us, your choices should reflect your hopes rather than your fears. This is my dream for Neev and our children.
I look forward to seeing our kids and all of you in the monsoon semester IN
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal
Founder, Neev early Years