Saturday, October 9, 2021

Published October 09, 2021 by with 0 comment

OBITUARY TO A LOST STAR

This is a synopsis to recall the memory of my late uncle, a rare talent to be lost forever. Some people will never pass away in spirit, memory and magnificence. He is my Aku, younger brother of my dad.

Like a comet streaking through the sky and vanishing into the expanse of the limitless night sky, Khaling Karma alias Tashi Tshering, passed away on the afternoon of 8th October 2021, after years of convalescent recovery from illness he has been fighting to regain strength. This left a massive hole in the hearts of many people who know him well. 

He was my vault of wisdom, skill and talents only few can have learnt to master. He was a encyclopedia and an engineer that needed no schooling to become master in how life can be lived to the fullest. 

Even at seventy, he was one of the versatile and farsighted spiritualist and a philosopher. Aku was a thinker without limits, a humorous man with a heart of gold. He was the most versatile craftsman, a creative designer, an engineer at everything, a man of focus and purpose, a resourceful mechanic of ideas.

His devotion to Chod practice was relentlessly investigative, drawing deep into the profound essence of Dzogchen teachings. His Root Teachers included luminaries like Dudjom Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other great Lamas of his time. Jamyang Khentse Rinpoche has been his primary Guru, an inspiration for his practices and life.

During his last days, Aku had been lively to family and visitors, even dancing during Thruebaab. He began practicing Phowa and Luibjinn intensively in the last few weeks every night. At one time he said, “death is imminent for everyone. Mine is nearby and I am ready to leave.” This conviction is a sign of acceptance and fulfillment.

Aku was my first guide and a teacher to initiate me into Chod teachings. A night after my marriage fell apart irreparably, Aku walked me to Thimphu the following morning to buy drum,bell and Chod prayer book. Later that day, I was taught the tune, given directions with highlights on the pages of the book and even gave me prayer recorded in a cassette. That was in May 2003. 

Thereafter, apart from getting taught and inspired in many profound teachings, his experiential learning and histories, Aku became one of the guides to cut through my ignorance and learning. The other two teachers were father, a lifelong Chod hermit and my Aku Tshampa, a Throma Lama at Paro.

Aku is also known as ‘Samsara’ to many students of the ninety’s in Khaling High School, for teaching life and philosophy of samsaric world. When I young I was told Aku was known as Kuenphen Karma, and that he was a Royal Photographer at one point of time.

He was one of the first graduates from NIE Samtse, a teacher from his early age. And he lived as a teacher, teaching people through his ways and words that are inexplicably beyond being an intellectual.

You will be missed but you will never be gone.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Published September 21, 2021 by with 0 comment

MEMORY OF MY LEGEND- MY ROOT TEACHER

Today is the 8th birthday anniversary of Lama Chime Dorji’s Yangsi( Rigdzen Lhubdrup Dorji). 

Lama Yangsi was born to a Yab Drupthob and late Yum Kuenzang Yangden in 2013 in Gedu Bhutan. 

At the age of three, Yangsi was officially recognized by his Holiness kyabje Dudjom Sangye Pema Shepa Rinpoche, as a reincarnation of Lama Chime, following signs and indications of his birth. 

Yangsi Rinpoche is currently residing at Durpin monastery in Kalimpong, studying under the tutelage of Trulku Rinpoche, the principal at Durpin Goenpa.

Trashi Deleg Yangsi La. 

1. Biography of previous Lama Chime.

Lama Chime Dorji (1920—2012) was a very close disciple of Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshi Dorji Rinpoche. 

Born in the Ngari area in Tibet, close to Mount Kailash, he was trained in Dudjom Tersar lineage by Degyal Rinpoche, a direct student of Thraktung Dudjom Lingpa, the predecessor of Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshi Dorji. 

Lama Chimi was 15 years old when he met Dudjom Rinpoche at around 1935, and had become Rinpoche’s primary student, and also a chat master. He follows Dudjom Rinpoche to Lama Ling.

Lama Chimed oversaw the construction of two Zangdogpelri monastery in Tibet. He traveled to Tso Pema, in India along with his teacher, Dudjom Rinpoche and few years later became incharge of Zangdokpalri Monastery, in Kalimpong. Lama Chimi, although an accomplished practitioner remained a recluse for many years. 

2. Receiving teachings from Degyal Lingpa

First, he received instructions on the Dudjom Tersar Ngöndro from Degyal Lingpa (1873-1933), an extraordinary main disciple of Dudjom Lingpa who had settled in Namkha Khyung Dzong.

Lama Chimed Rinpoche was fortunate to have received all the empowerments and oral transmissions of the Dudjom Tersar lineage from Dudjom Rinpoche himself, teacher of his teacher Degyel Rinpoche. 

3. Practices and teachings

Following this, Lama Chimed Rinpoche he gave rise to the vast motivation to complete all the accumulations and purifications of the ngöndro in retreat. His accomplished was little known until Dujom Rinpoche asked of him to begin teaching in his absence. Dudjom Rinpoche was traveling to the went then and empowered Lama Chimed to actively benefit sentient being and Buddhadharma.

Lama Chimed was also referred to as Togdhen Chimed by his peers and forebears. Many of the accomplished Ngagpa Lama from Bhutan and Tibet, and aged practitioner Tshampa were his disciples.

Lama Chimed was extremely disciplined, rarely taught and feared for his temperance. His thunderbolt fierceness was like lightning that cut through arrogance and ignorance of his few disciples. Lama Chimed was one of the very few teachers who was the sublime authority to teach and train fortunate disciple exclusively in Throma Nagmo Chod practices, the Phowa and Semthrid.

Lama Chimed had begun to teach to fortunate people from Bhutan, Tibet, India and the west at the peak of his age. It is said that Lama began to receive disciple more readily when he was around his seventies. Lama Rinpoche always denied of any accomplishment to teach. He lived a life of recluse, in absolute modesty and quietitde.

4. Becoming disciple to Lama Chimed

Owing to my immeasurable karmic deeds and past life connection, I met my Tsawai Lama in 2003. I had taken into practicing Throma Nagmo Chod along with community of beginners at Gedu immediately after a devastating divorce. The sanctuary I sought was the beginning of my spiritual journey that would take me to Kalimpong for the next several years to receive teachings, directions, commentary and practices from Lama and Khandro Ani Kuenzang. Kalimpong then became by spiritual home.



My father is also disciple of Lama Chimed and had received teachings several times before Lama became my teacher. When I was small, studying in primary school, I remember receiving Chaag wang at the Khaling Muenseling school principal’s residence. My father, the principal and few teachers had invited Rinpoche. I didn’t know that the man who I saw with white Chuba was Lama Chimed then. When father told me that I had received Wang from Lama many years ago, I realised, I had the fortune to have become his disciple.

The Throma practitioners from Gedu began receiving teaching, from preliminary Ngondro to Dzogchhen, taught directly by Lama himself. The first group of people were either members, officers of Tala Hydroelectric Project Authority officers, their spouses and lay people. When I joined the group, they had begun to practice Tersar Throma Chod and were practicing every evening in a group.

From 2003 onwards, Lama began to teach increasing number of devotees from Gedu, led by Lopen Tshering Tashi, and from Thimphu and other parts of Bhutan. It was the beginning of another era of teachings of Throma teachings for many people of Bhutan. 

In 2012, when I was at Thailand, pursuing my masters in Educational management studies, I heard that my Tsawai Lama had attained absolute state of being. My Tsawai Lama then was 92 years of age. 

Lama Chimed was a very committed practitioner. He offered Luibjin Chod practice every night at nine to his last day. Lama was known to never sleep like common people do. When I stayed at Kalimpong, near Lama on many occasions, I have never seen Lama lying down to sleep for the night. His practices exemplify devotion and discipline very few practitioners can emulate today.

TODAY AS WE OFFER TRASHI DELEG TO THE INCARNATE YANGSI ON HIS 8th BIRTH ANNIVERSARY, I RE-LIVE THE TIMES FROM 2003 to 2012 and the years thereafter.

I offer my prayers for the king life and wellbeing of Yangsi Rinpoche and Ani Khandrola.


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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Published September 11, 2021 by with 0 comment

THE MESSAGE FROM A FORGOTTEN CHILD AND AN HONOUR TO TEACHERS


On 6th September afternoon, I received a heartwarming message on my Messenger. It made my heart go numb with nostalgia, flooding with joy and emotional tears of pride. I could guess a face in my years old memory, a plumb and a shy girls with pimples on her cheeks. I doubted if this message was from her. How many Tshering Eden’s we touch and change?
She wrote this: “Warm greetings after a very long time lah sir. 
Hopefully you still remember me. I wanted to reach you from a very long time but just couldn't seem to find that "just do it" vibe. 
Anyway, I wanted to thank sir for alot of things I learned during my school days. But I especially wanted to thank sir for noticing me  in the crowd in middle school.
Growing up I realized how much this small touch of yours have rippled and to this day still gives me the validation that I existed and that my teacher clearly made sure of that. I don't know how to put this but I wish alot of teachers did that or do that. To notice your students,  whether they are good or bad. But no children are bad, they all just trying to figure out what to figure out.  To call out their names. To let them know that you are aware of them. 
And I'm genuinely grateful that I learned a lot of values in my school days because now I know in my actions I feel the spirits of my teachers. 
Thank you for everything la sir. I wish you good health and may your spirit never die. Good day la.” 

I cried. But I celebrated too. To have a message like this from some forgotten child from school I taught touched years ago is like discovering ‘Ter’ again! 
To honour her words, I write this reflection to honour our teachers.
A teacher’s role doesn’t begin and end with classroom teaching. Teaching is a central focus, a primary role. But over the years teacher has become mother-like, with multiple other responsibilities. The work load has increased and become more demanding, with so many needs and wants to attend to. 
It gives me a hunch that there is little possibility to be innovative in the primary profession and that a teacher will be unable to inspire creativity in students. Teaching in itself requires much to reflect and plan, to be resourceful and reliable for every student. If a parent is challenged in how a child is brought up everyday, a teacher has to parent hundred of students from classroom to classroom. 
With every changing policies within the education system, often unpredictably fast, before one can sustain to another, teachers are the main pawns to play out the policies. Teachers are expected to know background and biodata of every child he teaches, aptitudes and ineptitude of every child in a class, and to connect to parents to enable proper guidance and support. The parents and people expect teachers to heal the wounded morality and psychological displeasure of a child from broken homes. Teachers are expected to make a child learned and literate with infallible excellence. There are so much more than we can talk.


With state of our nation’s future in the hands of our youth, it is impossible for teachers only to be depended on to make a child worthy of a future leader. A teacher may be capable of making a huge difference, but teachers need skills and space to plan and play his trade well. A teacher will need resources to teach a child the skills and knowledge a child can use in his time. 
A teacher may take a child to chemistry laboratory, but if a reagent was not supplied for, what science can we demonstrate. A teacher may teach about land surveys, but without a plane table to use, what skill will a child learn. A teacher may teach about Dzongs and Chortens from a book, but without field visit to make, will children learn better. A curriculum may demand for discovery and self-learning, but without adequate and relevant library resource, will it not frustrate a child? An ICT learning may be a priority, but with limited number of computers and laboratories, and weak internet signals, will there be productive learning experience? There are so many challenges, so many things to be met before quality performance can be asked for. There are changes needed within the systemic machinery, from policies to human element, from connectivity between agencies to to those upon the play fields.

In my almost two decades of teaching services, I have learnt that our teachers are innately obedient and loyal to whatever decrees and directives, policies and plans that comes from above. Even against the challenges and shortcomings, teachers always give their best time and energy. They have ‘never let down’ attitude when it is about teaching. There may be few who may succumb to hopelessness and bigger dreams, but there are many who do as much as they can. If “ good is not good enough” there is so much we must do.
For those teacher’s who give their time, heart and sacrifices to engage children, there are unbelievable birth of creativity. Each teacher has a story of surprises and successes. There are stories of indomitable sacrifices and selflessness, there are stories of pain being nursed to joy and stories of change. 
If not in the classroom, there is no better place where a child has opportunity to become a man the nation can trust. Many of our students come from home that has no warmth of a fortunate child. These are students who teachers try and make school a home and teachers their only warm parent. This is one reason why teacher’s value cannot be measured in any digits on which he is assessed on. In fact, I do not see justice to have teachers rated in a numerical scale!

My teachers may cough and hiccup in silent reluctance to the burden of workload and never ending complexity of increasing challenges, but they remain hallmark of a loyal civil servant, disproving any doubts people may have. 
If we can make difference to one child in a class, we have made a difference to many as well. If we change a child, we change a community. If community change happens, country can progress. That we make a magic spell often on the ignorant child is a memory we never need to celebrate, for it will be cherished in them, looking at us as a shadow of hope away from home. Teachers are the hope and hallmark for every child in school.
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Friday, September 10, 2021

Published September 10, 2021 by with 0 comment

THE HOW OF 'VISUAL NOTE-TAKING' ARTISTRY

 “Students were able to learn concepts better than before. Chemistry became joy for my class.” Lop. Karma, chemistry teacher confesses. We can never underestimate value of small things we do differently in our classrooms. Children grow up seeing words as images, understand words through imagery and makes meaning by connecting it to its description. Every adult is a child when it comes to artistic joy of experience.

If schools can take small steps to make learning an enjoyable engagement, differently and strategically, children will be able to learn more evocatively. I always believe that ‘small things matter’ in how teachers provide creative ways, even if incrementally, when engaging students in learning processes.  My teachers have begun to etch the information from meetings and talks in artistic ways, and it is the beginning of a livelier classroom.

His Majesty the King decreed within the Royal Kasho that, “In preparing our youth for the future, we must take advantage of available technologies, adapt global best practices, and engineer a teaching-learning environment suited to our needs.” It is a direction for teachers to employ adaptive learning opportunities for students to learn through varied differentiated learning models. The fervour of Visual Note-Taking is a small measure to fulfil part of the Royal concern, by bringing liveliness and variety in teaching methods.

Dechentsemo Central School teachers were trained in Visual Note-taking technique on 4th September 2021. I have learnt about the Visual note-taking strategy during the training of School Leadership Development Programme at RIGSS in Tsirang.  Visual note-taking is one of the perfect skills for 21st century learners. It is the translation of the words or information into recognizable pictures. This is where the student has creative space to characterize the concepts in an artistic form. “Sir, I am surprised when madam taught us how we can take notes artistically, and catch important messages. This is better than writing notes from teachers.” A class VIII students said, joyful.


It is used for effective and visually capturing for journaling, class lectures, conferences, and any other for retaining key information. This strategy is referred to as 
sketch-noting, graphic note-taking and visual mapping.

What is Visual-Note Taking?

·         It is the process of representing information non-linguistically through drawings or pictures.

·         It can be simple using sketches or doodles or more complex using Mind mapping or Concept Maps as representations.

·         It is created in real-time while actively listening to content, typically drawn using pen and marker and can also be drawn digitallyThe composition is non-linear unlike the regular mind mapping and note taking processes.


The Process

      Visual notes are not drawn left to right and top-down like traditional notes.

      They are developed by making connections between content.

      They use illustration as well as handwritten text to communicate information and represent concepts from presentations, meetings, class lectures, or anything, really.

      This combination of text and simple illustrations create simple “bookmarks” in the brain.

Science of Notetaking benefits

Visual Note-taking has been widely researched areas that demonstrate evidences of scientific benefits for learners. This strategy aligns to multi-intelligence learning model that cater to diversity of learners. It is known to boost ability to process, retain, and recall information.

      Researchers have found that color visuals increase a person’s willingness to read by 80 percent (Green, 1989) and sixty-five percent of people simply learn better visually (Yapton, 1998). The graduate students, Udomon, et al., (2013) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that visuals are more effective than audio at achieving higher memory retention. The study found that participants who viewed only text remembered 10 percent of what they read after three days.

Similar study by Lester, (2006) found that people remembered 80 percent of what they see, 10 percent of what they hear, and only 20 percent of what they read.

The scientific studies attest that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text (Semetko & Scammell, 2012). Children love images, and images when used with colours captivate children, drawing inner curiosity to read and engage in learning. It is often more enjoyable and enhances learning in the classroom.

Those who viewed text paired with visuals remembered 65 percent of the information three days later (Medina, 2008), indicating importance, not only of taking visual notes but also displaying visual notes for learning.In one of the recent researches, using visuals during meetings has been found to create more and better ideas, and increase recall capacity. (Averett, 2014).

The Visual Note Taking Strategy is an extension of mind mapping which is designed as an on-going activity with diagrammatic representation capturing vital learning points. It can therefore be used for teaching, learning and even evaluating students’ learning when in the class.

 

Note: This is written to inspire other schools to emulate practices for better learning journey.

Namgyal Tshering

Principal, Dechentsemo CS,

 

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Monday, August 30, 2021

Published August 30, 2021 by with 2 comments

TO ROUSE THE LIMITS OF CHANGE- A CLOSING SPEECH AT 'RIGSS' FOR SLDP-4


30th August 2021

Delivered by: Principal Dechentsemo Central School, Punakha

Dashos, RIGSS faculty, senior principals and mates,

It is my assumption which will be painful to hear, but I have begun to believe that the long cry on declining quality of education and the denial by education fraternity for a long time has been wrong. It has also been wrong perhaps, to defend we were doing enough in our schools when today we realise how much we could have done and how far behind we are even in our leadership and knowledge. Experiences have rather limited us from leading the way children need to be learn by.

It is embarrassing to me at least, that His Majesty the King has to pronounce for education reform. I take it as a caution upon myself, that it is a decree for me to transform myself first before reform can take place in the school. It is even more embarrassing that His Majesty the King has reminded several times, the need to have ‘Just and harmonious’ society, yet we believed we were doing well. It was in fact a higher call for change in how we serve the nation we promised to serve when we began our career.

We may be expressing our opinions like we are experts at leadership, but we may have been principals to whose office teacher do not feel like home to enter. We may have been a teacher, deluded to believe that we are the best, when the best service has not contributed to fulfil the vision of our schools!

Further, how many times His Majesty has displayed moments of transcendental examples and sacrifices to awaken our consciousness, but we remained unchanged, refusing to be inspired to perform. If our beloved king walking the plains and hills, the valleys and towns in summer heat and monsoon rain, do not shatter our arrogance, what will make us study and work better than what we do? If our king serving his lunch under a shed in the southern forest and scaling mountain trail, trekking peaks and navigating leech infested jungles, does not rouse us from idleness, what will make us guilty enough to rise and serve better? How many sublime quotes of our kings will we frame on walls and quote in our speeches but never change in what we are and how we do for the nation we serve?

After two weeks of extensive engagement at RIGSS, I still feel very far behind the vision of my king. I think I must make greater difference in the lives of those I touch in the school by reforming myself first; in behaviour and personality, in knowledge and skill, in leadership and humanity. Are you going to change, really? If neither Arun Kapur’s talk on purpose of education nor Dasho Chewang’s words on professionalism effect change our leadership, if neither Dasho Karma Galey’s evidences nor Dasho Tashi Wangyel’s statistics make us guilty, if neither Angela Chueng’s inspiration nor Dasho Karma Tshiteem’s roadmap become our skill, if neither Ujjwal’s nor Joels session ignite passion to change way each of us lead and bring significant performance outcome in three to five years, we have not only wasted national resources and hard work RIGSS put in but also failed the trust His Majesty and the nation places on us. After today, there cannot be a new beginning for our schools if what is learnt does not propel us to study and practice. What more do we need better than to begin from ourselves first?


In fact, that His Majesty the King has to envision the significance of providing RIGSS training platform to school leaders to learn and transform is the key to nation’s sovereignty and harmony. This platform at RIGSS is a privilege many civil servants aspire to be alumnus of, and we, the principals, have been honoured this as part of reform initiative without any selection processes.

Do we only boast of our ages and experience and talk of limitations? This SLDP opportunity makes us obliged to reflect and revisit our strengths and services towards enhancing quality leadership and performance. It is not enough, and never too late, to redesign our leadership, direct our direction and emulate virtues of a SMART Bhutanese to educate children to become capable leaders. I have no doubt; our nation will fail if each of us does not grow. It will have to begin by a book we read, reflection we make, a speech we give, an activity we plan, and from attitude we begin to change.

We have come a long way in education history, and it is imperative we must question how well we have progressed to live the 21st century with pride. History tells us that modern education began in 1913 with the first school begun at Gongzim Ugyen Dorji School in Haa and another in Bumthang in 1914. It is today 108 years since the inception of modern education. We have come from 46 students to 16,800 students today. We pay tribute to the peerless leadership of our hereditary Kings for their wisdom and foresignt to have given priority with free educayion for sao many years.

The future of the nation, of 1,16,800 students, is in the hands of over 500 principals. Today, with the Royal Kasho as a beacon of hope and direction, the history of education system embarks upon a major reform, and each of us are critical asset in this venture. The national policies and governing norms will have little to serve the purpose if school leaders fail to function vibrantly with ethos parallel to visions enshrined within the Royal Kasho. And this begins from asking ourselves, who we are, what we are and why we are here today.

The two weeks of experiences at RIGSS have been a realisation that struck us with sense of guilt and apprehension; guilt upon realising that there are better and greater ways of leading and apprehension upon realising the weight of challenges and responsibilities we have from every small things we do, from a every word we speak, each thought we consider and each dream we create. From the moment we walked into the PDC Center on 15th August 2021, when we met Madam Sigay Dem and her team, we began to learn lessons of leadership, from the heart warming smile to graceful welcome, from the flawless readiness to fluid services, from consistency of energy to coherence among the 7 member team.

When Director RIGSS, Dasho Chewang Rinzin took us through more than two hours of Induction and Introduction session, we learnt how we can change ourselves, our mindset and behaviour as a leader. We are told that from the bed we make to the coffee cup we drop into the bowl, we learn leadership. I have seen RIGSS management as an exemplary spectacle since 2014 when I was at Phuentsholing, and Dasho Chewang Rinzin had always been an inspiration I discreetly learnt from.

It has been an incredible journey at Tsirang. The programme sessions tested and teased our learning, deepened and widened our horizon, brought painful realisation and poignant awakening. When session stretched into the night, it challenged the limits of our tolerance and possibilities of learning there is beyond the conventional hours. I heard from my friends that, not even during their 2 years’ university studies did they learn something like the sessions here.

In our decades of career life, we have touched thousands of children, and this time we hope to touch them differently. On this note, on everybody’s behalf, I offer our humble gratitude to His Majesty the King- Kadrinchoe Miwang Chog, to the Ministry of Education fraternity, to Director and the warrior women at RIGSS management, the luminaries who enlightened us from abroad and within, and to Honourable Chief Guest Dasho Karma Tshiteem.

And I wish to thank our cooks and everyone behind the blankets who made our residential stay like second home. Finally, I thank you dear colleagues for your support in my captain’s role here. I hope I have given you reason to practice leadership virtues through my small flaws.

Henry Wadsworth, an American poet and educator once said,

 "The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight; but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night."

Today, as we complete the training, each of us promise to work and serve better than ever before.                                                                                                                                                         

Thank you.

 

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Published August 23, 2021 by with 2 comments

RIGSS Day 4&5: SKILL THAT POWERS LANGUAGE & LEADERSHIP

We think we know and we are good enough. After two days of training on Communication Skills facilitated by Angela Cheung, I realized that we can become even more leader-like in our spoken or written language. It hit me hard with inadequacy and the urge to practice skills learnt to correct limitation in my communication.

Angela Cheung is Managing Director at APV, a video production agency based in Hong Kong. She’s an executive leader, trainer, writer, director and producer. I have never known another prolific persona who inspired me so much in two days. Here are my reflections, and it do not encompass every this I learnt.

Paul J Meyer once said, “Communication-the human connection-is the key to personal and career success.” And he has never been wrong. Like successful politician can have a better edge to win, the competency of diplomats and professionals leverage people with their eloquence at communication skills to understand message strongly and differently. For teachers, communication skill is the primary tool which impact how children learn and speak well.

As principal, a leading intellectual, and a teacher, in an organisation where children look up to as role model for learning, it is important that we are eloquent in our speaking skills. In fact, we must be fluent and flawless to deliver in both Dzongkha and English. How we can influence in how people understand the perspective we project is in how we deliver with some oratory magnanimity. To be able to speak well, we have to have rich repertoire of knowledge and embody the message delivered. The power of message is not merely in the tone and pitch but in the eloquence and sincerity. George Bernard Shaw cautioned that, often, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Angela Cheung, a Singaporean presenter at RIGSS session for SLDP said, “You weren’t born how to drive; communication skill is just like any other skill. You can grow with practice.” This inspiration is not the first time we have had. The Education Ministry, under the stewardship of the then Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk initiated a nationwide training to enhance teachers communication skill, expending mammoth resources. How far have we begun to read as many variety of books and as many number since the training we received in 2017 on ‘English for Communication?’ Very few!

Public speaking is a challenge for many of us, whether we speak in Dzongkha or English, in fact, we may be unable to deliver an official note without hiccups. I have often noted that we are unable to consolidate and sequence thoughts with professional expertise. While pronunciation may be some problem, our speech is disrupted by ‘aumm..., and-daaa....and-daaa..., that-taaa..., but-taaaaa..., have-vaa..., with-taa very often between every few sentence and breaths. These disruptions hinder how the message is heard with profundity and clarity, and it is very uncomfortable for listener to rejoice the message. In many cases we begin our talk by ‘Aahhh! Aah!’ unable to gain confidence and sense of readiness. The breakage of speech by so many disruptions and pauses with ‘aaah and and-daa..’ may signify, sadly, lack of confidence and knowledge for the listener. Perhaps for Bhutanese, ‘Las’ and ‘a cough’ could be a better choice than the erratic and unsure start. In a formal setting, we start by ‘Dari-Today!’ which brings focus to what we are about to communicate.

This does not mean that it is unacceptable to have disruptions, but it must not be too much to dilute the message we convey. There is also no need to change our accent to appear eloquent. Angela Cheung encourages us, “ to be yourself, the very best of version of yourself. There is enough American or Australian; be the Bhutanese in your accent.” This is important for retaining the Bhutanese identity. I don’t think Mahatma Gandhi spoke like British although he was educated in England and taught by British!

Brian Tracy, a Canadian-American said, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”

Dr, Guru Raj Karakaji, during the Bhutanese delegate of principal’s visit to India, said at the conference, “We are like an over head tank. If over head tank is empty or even half, the pressure of water flow from the faucet will be less, even trickle. If it is full, the flow will be powerful, consistent and reliable. For school leaders and teachers, we have no limit to what we must know about the world apart from our professional areas. Reading is the tool that not only deepens knowledge but also sharpens our self-awareness and clarity of the world view.

When I do mistake in grammar or fail to give correct information while answering queries, my son comments, “Daddy you a principal how can’t you not know? If even principal don’t know, how will I?” I realise that not only being a good father is important, good message is also important. Therefore, it is important that we raise our profile by how we communicate in public. In a 2014 research by Fabio Paglieri et la, it is found that people trust the messenger first, and then the message. This means our personality, credibility and character as a leader is as essential as a good message to motivate teachers, students and parents.

“We are old now. What difference does it make even if we read? I don’t find time to read, how do you?” I have often listened to this remark from friends and colleagues. When it comes from a teacher, I am seriously concerned. We talk of mindset, we talk of ‘You can’t give, what you don’t have,’ from His Majesty’s quote, we talk of principal’s leadership have impact on students’ learning, and yet there is reluctance to change habits. I think there is no niche to be complacent when every day we impact students. If Professional developments we have participated in the past have not changed us and if RIGSS training do not bolster us to read, learn, reflect, and bring action into workplaces, we have wasted our time and national treasury.

Amidst our leadership role to lead and guide, manage and administer hundreds and thousands of students, and teacher too, it is difficult to manage time for personal growth and reflection. However, I try to reflect through some reading and writing, and often learn from others during official gathering to propel my knowledge to be a better leader everyday. Although reading is my lifelong passion, writing my skill and speaking a self-trained talent, I found myself far behind the standard Angela Cheung took us through her sessions. There are many skills I must practice, and I shall. If I cannot grow in my literary skill, how can I expect my teacher and students to learn through my leadership.

In a funny humour, Lop. Kama Tenzin, my friend, Chukha Principal, wittily said, “ Do you know why dinosaurs did not survive the impact of the meteor thousands years ago?”

I replied, wondering why, “ I am not sure?”

He said, with a squeaky smile, “ Because, they did not read!”

We cannot become dinosaurs. We are school leaders.

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Published August 22, 2021 by with 2 comments

REFLECTIVE WRITING: ‘WHAT I MEAN TO MY SCHOOL’

This is part of learning activity given by RIGSS for school leaders of SLDP to reflect on various topic. The reflection for us brings deeper thinking into what a leader should be for a school to be a boat to cross to the shore of GNH. I delved into my philosophy as a leader by connecting to the courses I listened to to streamline my beliefs for serving more meaningfully. 

A covert operation success of a regiment is remembered by the commander who led the team, a victory of a historical war is a story of a king who marched his army, the state of peace and harmony of a nation is defined by the quality of its leader and it must there for be infallible that an accomplishment of a school is the artwork of its principal at the helm of affairs.

One of the most recent researches by Bartanen(2020) shows that school leadership has significant effect on students performance in reading and mathematics, and similarly a study by Dhuey & Smith (2018) at North Carolina Department of Public Instruction on 1,954 school revealed difference on the impact of student learning which had direct correlation to leadership performance.

We also believe that wellbeing of teachers and students, the vibrancy of school culture and performance of students in school depends on principal’s leadership management. The anecdote which says, ‘teachers do not leave the school but the leader,’ describes the quality of the school leader that compels teacher to leave school on transfer due to stressful work atmosphere. On the contrary, a school managed by a principal who is warm and versatile, shrewd and farsighted, learned and inspiring, connected and caring, will contribute towards imbibing virtues by example and educating children to learn with joy and enthusiasm. The performance of teachers, where principal is a competent leader, is enterprising and versatile at their responsibility. For instance, how the aesthetic ambiene of place manifest into a beautiful and calm space depends on the leader who was able to dream, love and perform during his tenure. This is exemplified by the composite beauty of Damphu town, from its endless variety of floral richness around town, the ‘Rigsum Pedmai Dumra ‘park that is intensely artistic, a tranquil lake, an imposing architecture of a chorten, an outdoor theater that reminds of a Roman colosseum, a soccer turf and so many more. If it is not because of the leader who was visionary and versatile, it cannot be possible for one place to become an artwork of Vincent Van Gogh of the 19th Century. This is the reason why history and art, science and literature, stories and experiences illustrate that leadership matters.

When I was interviewed for principal’s selection, I was asked how I would solve the problem of accommodation in boarding schools. I responded that it depends on how as a principal we view the situation. I said I would view it as a challenge rather than a problem or an obstacle, and that how we see the situation matter in how we adapt, reconcile and find solutions. Since that moment in 2017, I have looked at school as a place of immense opportunity to display by managerial skill, to work with compassion and forbearance, to flourish creativity and cultural liveliness, to drive for excellence and adventure of learning. School is a padlock to which I am the key to its accomplishments, and a guardian, a fatherly stature.

I believe that I am the singular hope for my teacher to remain elevated, inspired and belonged to, and that what I speak becomes their thought and what I do their behavior. As a principal and a family man, my work dictum is driven by this sentence- Small things matter, and what matters is not small for any individual. This philosophy facilitate how I perform my duties as a principal and a family man, and therefore I believe that every small things matter when standing as a teacher and a principal. Teacher’s behavior and speech, even if it is insignificant in our own thought, inevitably impacts how and what children learn in academic endeavours and behavioural change. In fact, every small activity in classroom and campus, in sport and special events, in discipline and dance, have indelible impression on the psyche and character of a child.

If I want them to read, so must I, if I want them to meditate, so must I, if I want them to become orators, so must I display, if I want them to be kind, so must I be compassionate, if I want them not to smoke and drink, so must I refrain, if I want them to be friendly, so must I socialize, and I am Dechentsemo when I am there. Therefore, what I am and what I do matters for my school, and I am the spirit that keeps my teachers and students spirited.

 Namgyal Tshering

Principal, Dechentsemo CS

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