Once on this mountain: Mr. Shaji Philip

As our academic year progresses, we welcome many new staff members. The Woodstocker caught up with some of them to chronicle the first chapter of their adventures.

Where are you from? 

I am from south India. I hail from a place in between Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, I am from the Nilgiris. I worked in China for the last seven years before coming to Mussoorie. Before China, I worked in Indonesia and I was working in Thailand before that. 

What subjects do you teach here and how did you get into that field? 

I teach computer science for DP students and design for grade eight students. It’s an interesting story, long back I had a teacher who taught me physics and math. The physics he taught me influenced me a lot, I am a physics man. I got a degree in electronics and then I did my master’s in computer science. So my teacher basically got me into the field of physics and computer science. I developed an interest in looking into the deeper science behind atoms. Teaching was not my dream and I became a teacher by accident but later on, I realized that I am not bad and decided to stick on to it. 

What is different about Woodstock from the last school you worked at? 

In my last school, all the students spoke Chinese and here most speak Hindi. The school that I worked for in China was an AP school while Woodstock is an IB school. There are quite a few cultural differences that I find here compared to my previous school. Every country has its own cultural differences and I found a good number of curious and motivated students here and having open-minded students makes the class a more interesting place where learning can take place. 

What are your goals for this year? 

I was in AP for quite some time so my first goal is to become familiar with the IB and its different aspects. The DP 2 students had a different teacher last year so I have some catching up to do while trying to finish the remaining syllabus for them. Most of them want a career in Computer Science so I have to motivate them beyond the books and grades to help them match their goals and expectations. The grade eleven HL students seem very interested in computer science as well so I consider it my mission to help them stay on the right track. I am also exploring in the field of design technology in the IB, in the future I might consider design full time since I want to do something electronics related that will put my degree to good use. 

What are some fun facts about you? 

For the last seven years my name had a joke attached to it. In Chinese my name translates to chicken-killer literally so while working in China every time I introduced myself to parents and students the joke followed. That is a fun fact about my name. I want to have a good relationship with my students so I am not very strict just so that the kids feel like they are in a safe and comfortable space. However when it comes to certain serious aspects I will change my perspective because at times that is the only way to get things done and meet deadlines and goals. 

What is one thing that you like about Mussoorie so far? 

I am sorry but I don’t have anything so far. I am not the hugest fan of the landscape here. It involves a lot of walking and that took me some time to get used to. In my previous school we had elevators and the campus was close knitted instead of being spread out entirely so the weather and landscape is taking me some time to settle in with. I heard about the place a lot from fellow Indian colleagues that I had worked with in the past. 

What is one thing that you noticed about Woodstock students? 

Interestingly this is the first school in India that I am working at. I do have experience working in colleges but this is the first school that I am working at in India. I like the kids here; they seem polite and kind. In my opinion, they all seem like good kids with great potential. 

What is your teaching philosophy? 

To me teaching requires flexibility, schools will have a lesson plan and pre-preparation. Some schools even expect a lesson plan for six months including test schedules and all that. I am not a huge fan of this idea, I know what I want to achieve so in my opinion it could be achieved through understanding the students better and working with them closely through interactive methods instead of going just by the book. I believe in going with the flow and encouraging learning through interactive ideas in the time that I have with them. 

Shivani is a staff reporter.

Edited by Asha.

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