In what could possibly snowball into a trend across educational institutions everywhere, Sabbu Rupa, Principal of Telangana Social Welfare Residential School / Junior College (Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district), has started a unique initiative in the state.
After seeing the viral video of a Palestinian teacher greeting students in a unique manner, Rupa promptly followed suit. She immediately pasted four icons on the wall — a handshake, a heart, a fist bump and a high-five — each representing the appropriate gesture, and asked her students to choose how they wanted to be greeted by touching the respective icon before the start of school.
“If a child touches the handshake icon, he/she will get the same from the Principal,” explains Rupa, who further reveals, “IPS officer R. S. Praveen Kumar, who is the Secretary of the Telangana Residential Educational Society, posted the video in our group. I was hooked to the concept, and immediately started implementing it for Class VII students in the current summer camp.”
Rupa states that the experience was emotional and liberating for students. “I think the students never expected a warm hug or handshake from their Principal, so they were thrilled and extremely happy. Since I am very friendly with students, most of them have been asking for more,” she says with a smile.
The Principal adds that such gestures further strengthen the student-teacher bond. “Sometimes if children are feeling stressed, a high-five or fist bump will help them rejuvenate,” she explains.
The 52-year-old firmly believes that if a child loves his/her teacher, then they will automatically love the subject too. “This will help a student excel in studies and reach their goals,” Rupa points out, adding that when the school reopens after summer break, she wants to extend the initiative to class V and VI students as well.
Apparently, the government school is far away from the town. “But we have all the required facilities and want to turn it into a full-fledged ‘freedom’ school where I will only be a facilitator and students are free to do anything of their choice, yet get through the syllabus,” she explains.
Since the school is a residential one, all students are on campus most of the time. And being a mother herself has helped Rupa to bond with students better.
Apparently, most of the students address her as Miss Rupa, and do not use titles like ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ while addressing their teachers. “Initially it took time for them, but they eventually accepted it. Now, they don’t even fold hands while talking to me, but freely express themselves,” she adds.