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Teacher in Spotlight – Chhavi Sharma, a solo backpacker brings experience of heritage in her classroom

Chhavi Sharma teaches History to 11th and 12th graders at Mater Dei School, New Delhi. She has been using experiential teaching methods to engage her students. To gain hands-on experience of heritage sites, Chhavi travels across India as a solo backpacker.

She was part of Delhi Heritage Walks for nearly half a decade and engaged people from across the world in old tales of Delhi. Learning every day from young minds, Chhavi aspires to travel to all places that find mention in her classroom textbooks. She has also received a letter from Ministry of Education for exemplary results secured by her students in HSC. Here’s what she has to share with you.


1. Briefly, share your teaching experience with us.
I started teaching in 2012. I have taught in 3 different public school’s before joining Mater Dei. The initial 2 years were challenging and adventurous in terms of settling with school of ‘my kind’, where academics would be given importance yet co-curricular activities would not be neglected.
As an educator, my journey over the past 10 years has been ecstatic.

I always step into my classrooms with a mind frame of a student, and come out learning more each day. The initial years were a struggle, trying to understand needs of students and trying to adjust my nature accordingly. I believe, I’m still learning each day and at an individual level, I have become more patient in general.

2. Keeping in mind the current trends in the education sector, what are the different challenges you face as a teacher?
Biggest challenge is to keep pace with evolving trends of today’s generation. They come up with new lingo, dress style, even ideas – which may not have been well accepted earlier but, I try to accommodate it slowly. I have taught from class 6th to 12th, and every grade has its own challenge. You can offer a sweet to a child of 6th grade for being the ‘quietest one’ but the same doesn’t apply to 12th graders. Handling each student in a single classroom is equally as challenge as giving them tasks. Every child has to be handled differently, as per their need.

3. According to you, what are the key changes that our education system needs?
The Indian Education system has to keep pace with global trends. The examination system should be replaced by activities and research based studies. Experiential learning should be encouraged over rote learning.

4. How can an educator make teaching effortless?
Understanding the need of your classroom will make your work slightly easy. As an educator, one must take time knowing each student at personal level. Also, with internet and enormous knowledge gaining sources, most of the students are well read. As a teacher, knowing your subject well and preparing well before going to your classroom helps a lot!

5. Enlighten us on what you do for yourself to better your purpose of existence.
I’m trying to constantly evolve in and around my profession.

I utilize my vacations by travelling to places which are related to my subject. This makes my lessons only better. I can justify teaching about a Mughal dynasty only if I have visited few places where the dynasty resided or traded.

6.  What are the effective classroom management styles?
At middle school level, I infuse students with lot of imagination.

I have dedicated storytelling days where they can imagine and relate to how life in a particular era would have been. Sharing personal travel photos and personal life experiences also helps them relate to you more.

As long as students are ‘engaged’ it becomes easier to manage any class!

7. What are the few experiential methods or techniques you use in your classroom to engage the students?
I’m a learner and explorer before I consider myself an educator. By traveling across historical sites I try to bring in as much of my personal experiences and photographs as possible, so that students don’t feel history to be a ‘dead subject’. I try to trigger the creative side of learners by asking their viewpoints about any topic that we discuss.

9. Clearly from what we have heard about you, travelling is your way of learning. Please share how you manage to live your dream while working?

Yes, teaching and travelling goes hand in hand. It has become ‘give and take’ for me from both the sides.

By visiting a place I gather as much information and photographs as possible to share in my classroom.

And the excitement and curiosity of my students make me take these trips often. As a teacher you get summer and winter breaks along with many other long weekends which I try to utilise well by planning a little in advance. I visited the site of Lothal last year which gave me deeper insight about trading practices of the Harappans and it only made my classes better. I was able to explain at length about it which was earlier restricted to textbook knowledge. In class 12 we have a chapter on Vijayanagara Empire and visiting Hampi gave me goosebumps walking through the grandeur of the palace ruins and temples, explanation of which is only limited in the text. So, travelling has pushed the walls of my imagination and it makes me a more curious learner every time I visit a place.

10. What made you choose the profession of teaching?
As a child I wanted to bring positive change in the world. For many years, I aspired to be an IAS Officer to bring that ‘change’, but realised later that a teacher can impact zillions, more effectively and quickly! As a teacher, I also get to keep the child-like spirit alive in me. Teaching history gives me ample space to be curious and creative, and ignite the same spirit in others. Also, I come from a family of teachers. I have grown up spending time reading and traveling during my vacations. The zest for knowledge still continues.

11. As an Educator, where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?
Five years from now, I only see myself to be more passionate about my subject and profession. I aspire to be more confident about effective classroom teaching. Also, I wish to visit more places that find mention in the textbooks. Secretly, I also wish to start writing seriously about my travels and teaching experiences so my life journey can be shared with many others.

12. Any words of advice for other teachers of our community, “Teachers of Tomorrow”.
As teachers, we have to keep ourselves very open and accepting to changing trends of the society. Any subject should be made alive in classroom so that students take interest in it, and managing them automatically becomes easier. For this, we must keep ourselves updated with latest trends from around the world, especially related to our subject so that the students see a potential future in it.

Encouraging Educator

Written by Ridhima Bahl

Community Manager of Connected TOT, I take forward our commitment of Improving Education. 

On behalf of Cambridge, I speak to educators to get the best possible tips and advice, that can challenge or add to the pool of knowledge for other members of Teachers of Tomorrow. With teachers at the heart of everything we do, I reach out to brighter thinkers, further supporting and inspiring them to share their success stories or best practices in a plug and play form that can be easily implemented by other teachers in their classroom insuring brighter learning for all learners.

I manage this community that connects with teachers around South Asia to make Better Learning Possible. We hope that these articles inspire you to become part of the Cambridge story – a world of Brighter Thinking and Better Learning. Write to me at connectedtot@cambridge.org.

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