In this segment of ‘Beyond Pink’, we talk to Kiran Pai, Director- Vidyashilp Academy and Vidyasagar Pre-Schools & Founder and Chairperson of Connectivate. Kiran is a doctoral student at the University of California and has over a decade of experience in K-12 education.
Essentials for a business meeting
It’s tremendously useful to send out a preliminary agenda to team members prior to the meeting. We find that it saves valuable time and keeps discussions to the point.
At the start of the meeting, we like to spend about five to ten minutes to celebrate team members and acknowledge the hard work that they do.
Then we move on to discussing improvements and changes that we need to make for the week ahead.
Your Leadership Style
Highly inclusive. I value the diversity of ideas, talents, and viewpoints that we have amongst our team members, students and parents. Including a variety of voices and ideas can take up one’s time and energy. But I believe that lasting change, in an organization, cannot occur without buy-in. There’s an African proverb that I subscribe to that says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The biggest challenge you faced as a leader & how did you deal with it
Increasing family involvement was one of our biggest challenges. We know that students do much better at all levels when their families are involved in their learning. However, in the past, parental involvement was limited to parent-teacher meetings and involvement of grandparents was completely absent. We worked very hard to include families in school-related committees and have them more involved with students’ learning goals.
Participation from families slowly trickled in over the past two years. We now have several grandparents actively involved in students’ learning. For example, we included a grandmother, who was an agricultural expert, in our Geography lessons. She and the faculty of Geography created experiential lessons on Basmati rice cultivation. Students saw their textbook material come to life and engaged in hands-on learning. Another grandparent was involved in History and Civics lessons and shared anecdotes of his experience in the Indian army during the Kargil war of 1999. Students found themselves emotionally engaged in his story and reflected on their own civic duties as Indian citizens. The impact of increased family involvement on our students learning and well-being is clearly visible. It was a challenge well-worth overcoming.
How do you maintain balance between your work & home
Essentially, it comes down to time management and pacing oneself. Along with working in educational institutions, I am also a mum of two and a second-year doctoral student at USC. There will be days when I have to accelerate the pace of my work and there are days when I don’t need to, and that’s okay. I pace myself according to the need of the hour and enjoy the process along the way.
Mantra for dealing with stress & maintaining a healthy life
I’ve recently started guided meditation for about 10 minutes a day. I’ve learned that a little bit of mindfulness goes a long way in maintaining a healthy and happier life. My friends, one of whom is a health coach, have had a significant influence on my outlook on food and fitness. I am a lot happier with my dietary choices than I was two years ago.
What is your power dressing mantra?
Simplicity is elegance.
One thing that one will find on your desk
USC’s ‘Fight On’ coffee mug.
One gadget that you cannot do without at work
Your driving force
My purpose as an educator.
Secret of your success
The fact that I am deeply passionate about my job. If you’re passionate about something, you are naturally going to succeed in it.
Kiran Pai is an educationist and instructional designer. She is the director of Vidyashilp Academy and Vidyasagar Pre-Schools and has recently adopted a government school in Bangalore, India. She is also the founder and chairperson of Connectivate, a media-based conference platform that addresses a wide range of issues within the domain of education.
With over a decade of experience in K-12 education, Kiran’s expertise lies in strategic leadership, instructional design and change management. Under her stewardship, Vidyashilp Academy and Vidyasagar Pre-Schools have won the IBCI School Brilliance awards, World Education awards for Pedagogy and have been consistently ranked as one of the top 10 day schools in India. Additionally, her school’s revolutionary pedagogy has attracted long-term global and national partnerships with organizations such as UNESCO, Indian Institute of Sciences, University of Missouri, National Institute of Advanced Sciences and the Atal Innovation Mission.
She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Education from the University of Southern California. Additionally, she continues to refine her own professional practice with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.