Usha Vardhan Sharma: Exemplary Academic Leader of 2021 – Excellence In Academics
RNTalks: Good morning, Usha Ji. It’s great to be chatting with you here. Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I am into this profession of teaching, not by chance but by choice. I have been in this noble vocation of teaching for the past thirty-five years and every rolling year has enriched me with more maturity and wisdom.
My schooling is from S.T.Thomas school, Delhi ( Mandir Marg) , Graduation is from G.C.G. Chandigarh (sector 11) and Post Graduation degree in English literature is also from Chandigarh, I have also done Diploma in Russian Language from Delhi University. My B.Ed and M.Ed degrees are from Annamalai University.
Inspite of having such decorative bio – data, I believe that a good teacher still needs compassion, patience and above all she has to be a good councilor.
For almost three years I had been a regular writer for Times of India (Alwar plus) Rajasthan and now I serve as a freelancer.
I am an English teacher who teaches students of class X and XII (CBSE and AISSE) and have been fortunate enough as my passion has been my profession. I have been giving excellent board result every year, I make sure that my students should aim higher and none should get less than 90%.
Usually, people pass their XII class once in their lifetime but I have to pass every year, and that too with the meritorious result. From the year 2018 to 2019, one of my students Tisha Gupta scored 99% in English and had bagged the third position in the national merit.
The tenth class result has also been equally rewarding, in the year 2019 -2020, Rakshita Mathur scored 97 % in English and so did Aditi Dolia of the 2006 batch.
More than content, children require motivation, the teacher has to inculcate confidence in her students. English subject is not only about bookish knowledge or learning grammar rules because the English language needs to be caught rather than taught.
There are four skills of English, Reading, Writing, Speaking, and listening and each one needs to be perfected. I love to hone the oratory skills of my students and when their efforts are rewarded, awarded or they get laurels I am on cloud nine.
When I am preparing children for their exams, oratory skills, or some essay competition, I enjoy thoroughly with them because for me the journey is more important and educational than the destination.
I have the experience of not only teaching but also have rich experience of dealing with children. I know about their problem before they open their mouth.
The best advantage of being with students is that they never let their teacher grow old- neither physically nor mentally.
A good teacher is one who remains a good student for the rest of her life. More than anything in this world I love my students.
If my students feel that I have made them I also feel that my students have made me what I am today.
RNTalks: That is simply awesome! Usha Ji, what are the hobbies that de-stress you, and what do you like to do when you’re not on job?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Creative writing, I love to write to de-stress myself because the paper has more patience than people. When I am not working, I love to cherish the good old days of the past by going down memory lane.
RNTalks: Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? How did you bounce back?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Many times, but I don’t bounce back, in fact, I wait patiently for others to realize their mistake. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.
RNTalks: At some point in our lives we have to take risks. What are your views on risk-taking? Have you taken risks in life? How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Without risk, life is meaningless and boring. To try anything new in life one has to take risks lest sitting in your protective cocoon. I like adventure and trying new things, even if they don’t work at least experience is gained.
RNTalks: Truly said, can you tell me about a recent business/professional setback, if any, and how did you recover from it?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I lost my job because I was not manipulative and became a victim of staff politics. I recovered by joining other portals such as working as freelancers in Newspapers and conducting workshops.
RNTalks: Oh that is sad but something very common nowadays. It’s a pity but that’s also a part of life I guess. I want you to think back to five years ago. Did you envision your career as it is today? What are the changes that you can see?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: After resignation, I thought life is finished but it was a bend not an end, now I am taking tutorial classes. I teach XII class students and write books. All my students score above 90% in board exams.
RNTalks: “a bend not an end” I love that phrase. It has so much positivity in it! Usha Ji, was there ever a role you applied for and landed, but weren’t 100% qualified to do? How did you proceed from there?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: With such experience of teaching board classes I could teach in coaching centers but not in school because I was above 58 years. I am still teaching and giving excellent results but through coaching centers.
RNTalks: I think all experiences that we face in our lives are to make us a better person. The bitter experiences give us more valuable lessons in life. What do you wish you had known before taking your first responsible role?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I should have been more experienced and mature rather than eagerly accepting the role of Editor in Chief of a magazine.
RNTalks: According to you Usha Ji, which leadership skills were the most difficult to develop?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: To make people work under you. How to motivate them was very challenging.
RNTalks: That is challenging indeed! Somewhere at some point in our lives, everyone encounters a difficult boss. Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult boss? How did you handle the situation?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: He had wet ears and I became the soft target. He made life hell for me but I resigned and didn’t allow him to make life worse for me. I again started my life from scratch and now I am in a much better position.
RNTalks: Ouch! That was tough…What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable and helped you grow?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I learnt it from Mr. Ramesh Mathur, my second principal. I have learnt to dissolve and resolve all professional problems through humour. Be quick in forgiving and forgetting people lest pain would be suffered by you.
RNTalks: That is so true. I wish if everyone could do that the world would be a different place now. Tell me, Usha Ji, how did you develop the skill of speaking so engagingly in front of groups?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I learnt this skill from my third Principal Mr. B.S. Dhir. He used to shower the responsibility of conducting oratory activities in the school. Giving speeches in the morning assembly at sir’s command was an enriching experience.
RNTalks: Are you considering a career transition, Usha Ji? What are some other areas that you think might be a good fit for you?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I want to write books, poems, and articles. I have spoken enough and now I want to write enough.
RNTalks: One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of self-awareness, meaning the ability to see yourself as others view you. How do you think others perceive you?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Jovial, bubbling with energy, over-sensitive, and a soft target for others.
RNTalks: Now that I think is true because I have loved every interaction I have had with you till now. Is there a skill you’re currently working to enhance, such as project management, long-term strategic planning, delegating, or public speaking?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I am working on honing my writing skills.
RNTalks: Yes, I remember you telling about writing a book. Looking fwd to see your book in print. As a mentor what do you think are the 3 main areas for improvement in today’s education system?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Teaching means reaching, Teacher-student ratio needs to be checked, no verbal violence to be used by the teacher and along with the student’s teachers should also face the examination to update themselves.
RNTalks: That is profound. From your point of view, what should be the role of technology in the process of education?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: To reach each and every student in the world and eradicate illiteracy from the world.
RNTalks: What a noble thought. Wat do you think should be the main goal of a school principal/education?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: To send good future citizens from his/her school.
RNTalks: If you should characterize a great school principal/mentor with three words, which words would you choose?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Committed, focused, and bold
RNTalks: You are a mentor Usha Ji. Do you think that the school principal should teach? If they should, then why?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Yes, in this way they get a chance to interact with students in the class and know their difficulty area.
RNTalks: From your point of view, what should be the relationship between a mentor/principal and the students?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Authoritative, so that children take the principal’s words seriously.
RNTalks: Rightly said. I remember my school principals. They were not softies but strong personalities who commanded respect. We feared them yet loved them a lot. If you were the Principal, how would you go about building a relationship of trust and collaboration with staff, parents, and students?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: By being approachable, setting clean boundaries of code of conduct,t and conducting regular meetings.
RNTalks: What experiences have you had in working with RTE/low-income and “at-risk” students? What strategies do you use when working with them to give them an even platform of growth like other privileged students?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: One is to one ratio of teacher and student, they have been deprived a lot so needs special and individual attention, like the way we are doing in Unnati initiative where we teach students of humble background.
RNTalks: “Unnati” is doing a great job of teaching the underprivileged. Do you have any role models in your life?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: My role model is Kiran Bedi, she really inspires me to work even in odd circumstances and be the heroine after facing hardships.
RNTalks: What a coincidence. She is my role model too. When I was in XIIth she had come to our school as a guest. She was posted in Delhi then. I had received a reward from her for my speech in the morning assembly. That was the first reward of my life! Usha Ji, what is your opinion about the new education policies and ever-changing scenario during COVID time?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: New educational policy during covid times has brought a revolution in the world of education. It is accessible even to children of humble backgrounds/underprivileged. There is a better quality of education and learning taking place that too under the supervision of their parents.
RNTalks: Can you please share your top 3 innovative ideas that you have implemented in your teaching in the past 2 years during the Pandemic to improve the wellness quotient of your students.
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Promoting individual vocabulary bank, Multiple Choice Question technique, and reference of visual images for complete comprehensions.
RNTalks: I have learnt so much from you today but for your fans I ask you to give one example of your teaching experience where your teaching and interaction with students has changed the direction of at least one life for the better.
Usha Vardhan Sharma: A lady from a humble background was interested in learning the English language. She is working as a domestic helper and couldn’t find time for herself. Covid time turn out to be a blessing for her and now she can write a leave application for her school-going children.
RNTalks: I must say that you are a very warm person by heart Usha Ji. Please accept our heartiest congratulations on receiving the RSRA: Exemplary Academic Leader Of 2021 at RNTalks Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Awards under the category of Excellence In Excellence In Academics. How do you feel about it?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: I have loved every part of the ceremony. It was a great sense of achievement.
RNTalks: Any special message or any suggestions you would like to share with your visitors/fans Usha ji, which you think would help them evolve as an individual?
Usha Vardhan Sharma: Tough time does not last but tough people last.
RNTalks: WOW, that’s awesome! Usha Ji, I would also add your phrase “a bend, not an end” that you used before for those who get scared of troubles coming your way. On behalf of RNTalks, I wish you all the best for your future in mentoring and also in your life’s endeavors..
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