Published: 15th May 2019
This LIBA prof uses theatre to teach management studies. How cool is that
Agna Fernandez talks about how her innovative teaching methodologies help engage students in a classroom thus resulting in longer attention span and productivity
Were you a 'backbencher' in college? If you were, you'd relate to playing games like Pictionary, Bingo and Tic Tac Toe. As more and more teachers have realised that attention spans dip during class hours and soar when they watch a movie, teachers have gone 'unconventional' to make their lessons matter.
I think a teacher without technology is inadequate. Technology enables teachers to engage students in the classroom
Agna Fernandez, Professor, LIBA
No one's a better example of that than Agna Fernandez, an Associate Professor at Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), who uses everything from mobile gaming to improv and theatre to teach business studies. As she walked me through her unique techniques used to teach Organisation Management and Change Management, I was super impressed! The least I could do at that moment was to be happy for these students.
Coming to what makes Agna, who graduated from XLRI Jamshedpur, so unique as a teacher and why her students tag her class hours as the most relaxing, this is what she says, "When I took up teaching as a profession I had set a standard for myself saying that every student should leave my class feeling they have had a meaningful and productive one hour of learning. With that in mind, I decided to implement gamification and theatre in my everyday classroom sessions. I ensure to dabble in a lot of activity and engage students for an entire hour before they go flocking out when the bell rings. Is it a lot of work? Does it take a lot of my time? Yes it does and I am glad to do it anyway because it is a necessity," she adds with concern in her tone.
This hardworking teacher, who describes herself as a consultant, author, dramatist and a mother goes on to explain how she implements gamification and theatre in her everyday classes and how long she takes to prepare for each of her classes, "In the current context I think a teacher without technology is inadequate. Technology enables teachers to engage students in the classroom. Teaching students the way they like to be taught was what enables me to introduce gamification in my teaching methods. How? A mobile-based game was programmed to teach students certain competencies like leadership, change management and leadership." she says. She then continues, "I take four hours to prepare for classes every day and those four solid hours of planning are what help me through sessions the next day."
Being the dramatist that she is, with 18 years of teaching experience in business behind her, it seemed almost natural that she used a liberal dose of it to teach business studies. She says, "Theatre was implemented to create an experiential understanding of power, dependency and politics. Students work together to represent organisational behaviour, forms of compliance and teamwork. As a teaching innovation, theatre seems to have gone beyond engagement to establish a new kind of consciousness towards the application of the subject taught. It makes me happy to see my students enjoying my sessions. When students walk up to me and remark 'Ma'am your class is the most relaxing for me' or 'this is the best class I have attended' it gives me a sense of satisfaction that I have done my job to the best of my abilities. This is not the end. I won't stop innovating methods. Like I said earlier "students need to be taught the way they like to be taught. Only the teacher can channel the necessary means and meet the needs of a student. Its not a job it is duty," she concludes.