“I don’t teach students, I learn from them”


Meet Dhruv, teaching sports at the Riverside School (India).

What is your work in Riverside ?

We develop a lot of games for every student to feel comfortable in their skills. We try to encourage different skills: leadership, inclusivity, empathy, perseverance.

We work a lot on inclusivity and respect , we teach how they can show respect as a captain, and include everyone in the team. But also inclusivity for the children it means that if you are not good at this game, at least try your best.

Leadership also : we make them captain, they make their own strategy, they apply it in the game. We also have special class game led by students themselves: they design the game, take the leadership, innovate.

We are very concerned about the relevance: the design of each game is always related to a “why ?”, otherwise it has no meaning to us.

We also have meetings: class teachers, leaders sit with us to exchange about students and their concern. If a child is not very good at sports, we sit with him in the classroom and see how he is doing in academics. If students have any problem, they can share with academic teachers, leaders, admin. We are all here to solve children’s problems.

What do you like the most in Riverside ?

The atmosphere and freedom. We have leaders and we send them reports but I have total freedom. They want some output but they trust how we work. I can ask them whatever I want for the kids: if I need more practice for a tournament, for instance, I go to the teachers and leaders and I ask them. We always find a solution. Everyone in Riverside is cooperative and friendly, we never feel the hierarchy, if we have any difficulty, they’ll help. We can tell them anything. It’s like a family.

I don’t teach, I learn from students. I learn from their ideas when they design a sports game. We learn qualities from the teachers but from the students also.

How are the teachers in Riverside ?

We are more than friends, we are a family! If we have any problem, other teachers will come and ask us “how are you?”. Once in a while, Kiran (Kiran Bir Sethi, Riverside’s founder, ed’s note) shares lunch with us and she always make sure everyone is ok.

How do you work with teachers ?

We help teachers to design some new games for their lesson, because we are eager to mix our subjects. And we also work with the academic teachers because they know students in a different way, they can give us some helpful informations to individualise our games. We talk a lot about student’s psychology.

Can you describe one of your best moments in Riverside ?

When I go to class and the students shout: “Great! It’s sports class!” Even on Sunday, I’m unhappy because there is no school, I don’t feel good staying home. Riverside is our school. We learn so much here!

What would be the worst moment ?

Sometime if we lose, I always think that I haven’t given enough, I wasn’t 100% in the game.

Can you describe a sports lesson ?

We start by asking what we did last week and then present what will be different this week. We are always trying to build character and content, so we ask: how will you improve this week ? The progression in sports take into consideration child development : in the first years we play ball games and then we introduce some strategy, some team work.

We keep reminding them that agression is necessary in sports but positive agression only , the one that makes you want to improve your game, we don’t tolerate any attitude. Participation is the most important, not winning. That’s what we teach.

How would you describe Riverside ?

A learning school for teachers. You will learn as much as you give here. I improved a lot with Riverside.

How do you imagine yourself in 10 years ?

I learnt so many things from Riverside. My attitude, my confidence, many things have changed during the years. Today, I’m in front of you, it is my first interview, and I was very scared, but now I can face it. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have been able to speak to you, but now I can. This is what Riverside taught me. Sulekha (a teacher, ed’s note) told me: “Dhruv you can do this! Go!” You know, my English is not that good but they helped me, they came to me and encouraged me: “Face it! You can!” So you see, this is how our teachers are in Riverside.

And here I am, in front of you!