By Sandy Hooda
As I look back upon my life (and my years at school), my best memories are when I was happy. For me, happiness always had something to do with a warm relationship (and good times spent) with a friend, family member or a teacher.
Source of inspiration and motivation
I was also the most inspired and motivated when I was with a friend, teacher or mentor I had a great relationship with. Someone who was warm, wise and truly cared to share their love, knowledge and wisdom with me. Someone I could trust and knew truly wanted me to be happy and to succeed.
A burning desire to learn and to achieve
We know deep inside that happiness, motivation and inspiration fuel a burning desire to learn and to achieve great things. Why do so many schools and organisations get this wrong? Why are most teachers not warm and friendly? Why do they fear the principal? Why do so many learners fear their teachers or not feel inspired by them?
A great place to work
As I set out to create a school I wanted the school to not only be a great place for learning, but also be a place everyone looked forward to going to. A place where warmth, kindness and openness were everywhere. This wasn’t easy, especially since so many schools and educators operate in a command control environment. Where discipline is imposed extrinsically and fear is the main driver for performance.
A fearless environment
Research also informs us that people (both children and adults) are their best selves when they operate in a happy and fearless environment. The greatest companies around the world are investing huge resources to bring in CEO’s, managers and coaches who can reduce the fear, encourage people to make (and learn from) mistakes, and, as a result, achieve amazing things. Less fear and more happiness also make an organisation a great place to work, and at the same time, enhance staff stability.
In the context of a school, happy teachers will lead to happy children who will be motivated to learn and be intrinsically motivated (and self disciplined).
Warm and approachable people (and culture)
To enable this, we created a People and Culture department. We brought in professionals and coaches from the corporate sector to help us. People who had enabled and thrived in a happy environment. We did our best to onboard principals and senior leaders who were warm and approachable. Leaders who led not by issuing orders, but by asking questions and winning people over with their genuine concern. Leaders whose main role was to guide, coach and help staff members to be successful in their roles. We also believe in lots of positive reinforcements, which include formal rewards and recognition but, in addition, are also informal and frequent. The goal was to create a work culture that is warm accompanied with humour and joy.
A culture of happiness
Slowly this culture spread. The teachers were also kind to their students and believed in winning them over with their hearts. It is common at Vega for a learner or a teacher to walk into an office of any senior leader without any fear. We have worked hard to create and to preserve this culture of happiness.
Be it at our preschool, nursery school, kindergarten, primary school, middle or senior school, our culture of happiness is very important to us. There are so many schools in Gurgaon and some of the top Gurgaon schools are now starting to look at happiness as an important piece of the education puzzle. The time has come for the best schools in Gurgaon to focus on their people and culture, as much as they do on the learning.
As we get so many requests for jobs at Vega, besides technical ability, we always look for warmth and kindness. Nothing compares to learning and working in such an environment.
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