My Odyssey with Project Based Learning at Suchitra Academy, one of the Top Schools in Hyderabad

In the vibrant atmosphere of Daly College’s auditorium, amidst the splendour of The Great Indian Learning Awards 2023 ceremony, my mind was a canvas painted with memories tracing back to my journey with Suchitra Academy, which began in 2014. The sprawling school, surrounded by nature’s beauty, sparked an idea within me – a vision of leveraging the vast space to cultivate Project Based Learning (PBL) opportunities for our learners.

As I recollect my immersive training in PBL under the guidance of the esteemed Mr. Steven Levy (He was recognized as the Massachusetts State Teacher of the Year and honoured by the Disney American Teacher Awards as the national Outstanding General Elementary Teacher, well known for his Bike Path PBL with Grade V students.) and its successful implementation in my previous workplace, I felt a surge of confidence. I believed that PBL, with its focus on inquiry method, could be a transformative methodology for our learners.

The following year marked the commencement of a mission close to my heart. I initiated training sessions for the mentors across the middle school introducing one captivating project per term. Witnessing the mentors’ growing confidence and enjoyment in implementing PBL in their classrooms was not just professionally satisfying but deeply gratifying. As the power of PBL became evident, the decision to integrate it more deeply into our educational approach became imperative. Starting with a pilot project in Grade IV, we implemented five projects that year. The overwhelming success encouraged us to extend PBL to Grades III and V in the subsequent year.

Transformative impact was waiting to unfold and the journey was fascinating. Mentors discovered renewed purpose in their teaching, learners found profound meaning in their classrooms and parents observed their children engaged in meaningful learning experiences. However, with this paradigm shift, doubts naturally emerged among some parents. Concerns about syllabus coverage and the depth of conceptual understanding were real. I found some of them extremely bothered about the quantum of notebook work as they were constantly comparing it with other schools. Recognizing the genuine concerns of parents, we took proactive steps. Through orientations and workshops, we offered them a glimpse into the PBL classroom, easing their apprehensions. This effort not only dissolved doubts but also instilled faith in the system. Learners, proudly presenting their project outcomes to their parents after each inquiry, became living testimonials to the transformation witnessed within them. Project-Based Learning seamlessly became Suchitra Academy’s USP.

Buoyed by the success, we extended the PBL methodology to Grades I to VII, with wholehearted support from our Director, Mr. Praveen Raju. Today, Suchitra Academy annually witnesses the fruition of 40-42 projects across Grades I to VII, fostering skill development for both learners and mentors alike to solve real world problems. I have seen projects of all genres taking shape and bearing fruits – from entrepreneurship ventures like making profit by selling nutritious and tasty snacks to schoolmates to using design thinking to design and fix shoe racks in school premises and impactful CSR projects like creating wellness kits for the needy. I’ve witnessed extraordinary will in both mentors and learners even during online classes when the world was grappling with COVID pandemic. Suchitra Haat – a testament to the enduring spirit of innovation, was one such project which took birth in the online world showcasing resilience of the Suchitran community.

The journey of embedding PBL into the fabric of Suchitra Academy has been transformative. From a single pilot project to becoming the school’s defining USP, PBL has reshaped the way we approach education. It’s not just a methodology; it’s a philosophy that defines us. As learners identify their interest through various PBL inquiries during seven years of Primary and Middle School, our vision of offering 20+ subjects at the Senior Secondary level aligns seamlessly with our education philosophy.

As I stood on the stage, called upon to receive the prestigious award amidst resounding applause, the moment brought with it fresh determination to take another leap—elevating PBL to new heights. The journey shall continue, and the canvas of learning at Suchitra Academy shall expand, promising more engagement, purpose, and a love for learning for our entire school community. We all unlearn, learn and relearn embodying the school’s vision to be lifelong learners and leaders.