Dr Vasanthi Thiagarajan (20 to 24 January 2014)
AST’s 10th OEIR
Dr.Vasanthi Thiagarajan is the Master Trainer of the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) programme on Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) which seeks to improve students’ performance by identifying their learning difficulties
and employing appropriate remedial measures for enhancing their learning performance. She trains principals and teachers across South India on educational reforms that focus on holistic assessment through the implementation of CCE. As the Master Trainer
of the CBSE programme on Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), she mentors schools under the programme. As the mentor to these schools, she facilitates and oversees the proper execution of CCE in these schools. Dr. Vasanthi is also CBSE Resource
Coordinator for the Students Global Aptitude Index, training teachers under her in Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi. In addition, she shares her rich experience in other areas such as her work in the Internal Auditor for School Quality processes as part
of ISO requirements. In her various appointments, she has made tremendous contributions to education. For her excellence and impact on education, Dr. Vasanthi has received various accolades and mentions that include the Fulbright Distinguished Scholar
Award in 2011.
During her attachment, she conducted Master Classes for our secondary and primary teachers, who learnt about how Differentiated Instruction (DI) can be incorporated in their classroom pedagogy to help deliver lessons that effectively engage students with different learning styles and needs. She also shared with teachers how they can create a classroom where learning is inclusive and unique to every child through DI.
In addition, Dr. Vasanthi participated in a dialogue session with officers from the Curriculum Policy Office (CPO). The discussion with CPO officers allowed her to further understand the Singapore education system and the multiple pathways available for students in Singapore. Dr. Vasanthi also learnt about the MOE Assessment Philosophy and the important balance between Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning in our assessment system. There, she also discussed with them issues pertaining to the feasibility of DI implementation in a high-stakes examination system. During the meeting, she also shared with the audience how the assessment system in India has shifted from high-stakes examinations to a focus on assessment for learning. Officers were able to appreciate how DI could be implemented differently in a system where teaching and learning is not focused on tests and examinations. She also shared the multi-pronged approach for streaming students in Grade 11 which encapsulates aptitude, scholastic and non-scholastic performances. In addition, Dr. Vasanthi visited two schools where she observed two classroom lessons using DI. In the post-lesson observations, she helped the teachers to sharpen their use of DI in their lessons. She also discussed with them various implementation issues with regard to DI in the classroom, and ways of overcoming them to address students with different learning needs and abilities.
Through the OEIR programme, Dr. Vasanthi has shared valuable learning points from her practitioner’s perspective. The focus of DI is on learning rather than on teaching to the test. Furthermore, it is not merely about the teacher knowing students’ different abilities. More importantly, it is about looking at students’ learning styles and differentiating the learning content, process, and product accordingly to enable them to perform to their best.
During her OEIR stint, Dr. Vasanthi shared with numerous education officers her zeal and passion to engage different learners with DI. Through the sharing of her invaluable experience, she has also influenced all whom she had interacted with, and teachers were very impressed by her rich understanding and knowledge of DI.
Dr Vasanthi observing a classroom in Singapore
Dr Vasanthi sharing during the Master Class