Exams

How are exams conducted at Walnut School? And from which class onwards?

Exams are an important part of the schedule at Walnut School.
At Walnut School they come at regular intervals with a time table.
We do not like to use the “excuse” that marks are not important because in reality, they are. Taking exams is a different skill from understanding the concepts and learning the content. And like picking up any other skill, one needs practice.
So to help our students do well in exams we make them take lots of exams. If you look at our annual calendar (Walnut School Shivane, for example) you can see that we have four formal exams over the year, right from Std 1.
But, you can also see that we also have a week before that for practice. That is to help the students go from learning mode to testing mode.
– Std 1 to 5: Do two rounds of practice tests
– Std 6 to 9: In addition to practice tests, they do one full prelim round – because their papers are longer
– Std 8 to 10: In addition to practice tests and multiple prelims, they have a test after every chapter too

Moreover, there are also digital tests after every chapter right from Std 1 onwards (using our own Walmiki app)
Students are then comfortable with the idea of exams. It does not trigger stress. They get enough opportunity to improve and strengthen their knowledge and learn the exam writing techniques.

Read more

Handling

If my child is introverted and shy how will you make her speak?

Walnut School teachers are trained and know how to gently coax any child. Also, remember your child is not alone. There are 39 other kids of the same age in the class doing the same thing. So how the child is at home is not always the same presentation as how the child is in the school. 🙂

Language

Why do we not teach foreign languages?

CBSE has a two language pattern in Std. 10.
English is the first language. As per the new 2020 rule of Maharashtra Legislation, ALL schools of ALL boards in Maharashtra, the second language till Std. 10 has to be Marathi. So French, German, Sanskrit (or any other language option, for that matter), is not allowed to be offered in any CBSE school in Maharashtra in Std. 10.
If you are looking at this from a scoring point of view, some good news for you: about 20% of our class got full marks in Marathi! CBSE has made it very scoring!
As for adding on more languages – there are a million things that a school can teach, but there are only a finite number of classes.
We choose to focus on logic, understanding, analysis and creativity based activities in the school.
We also focus on strengthening their skills in the English language with our speaking, debates, language arts and reading sessions.
Check out the app DuoLingo. It helps you learn any language using any other language as a base and its amazing. Ask your child to try it out. Even the free version is quite great.

Why is Marathi compulsory at Walnut School?

CBSE has a two language pattern in Std. 10.
English is the first language. As per the new 2020 rule of Maharashtra Legislation, ALL schools of ALL boards in Maharashtra, the second language till Std. 10 has to be Marathi. So French, German, Sanskrit (or any other language option, for that matter), is not allowed to be offered in any CBSE school in Maharashtra in Std. 10.
If you are looking at this from a scoring point of view, some good news for you: about 20% of our class got full marks in Marathi! CBSE has made it very scoring!

Why not Hindi right from Std 1? Why teach Hindi only for three years?

CBSE has a two language pattern in Std. 10.
English is the first language. As per the new 2020 rule of Maharashtra Legislation, ALL schools of ALL boards in Maharashtra, the second language till Std. 10 has to be Marathi. So French, German, Sanskrit (or any other language option, for that matter), is not allowed to be offered in any CBSE school in Maharashtra in Std. 10.

But, CBSE follows a three – language policy only for three years before high school.

This means that students study languages as follows :

– First language : The medium of instruction: English (all the way up to 10th)

– Second language : The state language : Marathi (all the way up to 10th)

– Third language : In case of non – Hindi speaking states, it must be Hindi (three years before high school – so Std 6, 7, 8). Hence, we have Hindi taught only for 3 years.

[Historically, when CBSE schools started becoming popular in Maharashtra, they were branches of schools that were based in Delhi and North India. There the second language is Hindi. Their campuses here just blindly picked up that format and continued.]

Sports

Any sports training classes after school?

Yes. We can connect you with the coordinator. Just check with the front desk or write to us.

Do we encourage external sports competitions?

We participate in competitions organized by CBSE, as well as the local Zilla Parishad organized competitions. We do not officially participate in private competitions because they are endless.

However, we are happy to accommodate students who are participating in any competition – be it sports or any other activity, if told in advance.

Is a day assigned for sports activities?

Walnut School has daily sports.

The sport that the students play does not change on a daily basis. It continues for a couple of weeks – usually for the whole quarter.

That said, even if the child is in the loop for Basketball this quarter, she still would not be playing matches all 5 days of the week. There are days for skill building and drills, strength and agility and then a few days for the matches.

Why do sports matches and particular sports begin from 4th?

That is roughly the age where students start understanding the physical meaning of teams, rules and strategy and points and how to handle everything on the sports field.

Students have a daily sports period right from Std. 1 but its more of fun games, fitness and drills rather than matches.

Subject-wise Classrooms

Does it get chaotic when students are switching from one class to another class?

Nope. Not at all.

Walnut School classrooms have two doors – one for IN one for OUT.

Our students know exactly where they have to go due to the planned timetable. Also, there is plenty of time to get to the next class. They also use this time to go to the bathroom or drink water if they feel the need to. It gives them a good break. It also helps in neuroplastic changes which help in better assimilation of what they have learnt in the previous period.

(Which is why all desk job employees are all encouraged to take 5 min walking breaks after every hour of work!)

Will my child will get tired because of changing classrooms?

Again, nope. Not at all.

There is plenty of time to get to the next class. They also use this time to go to the bathroom or drink water if they feel the need to. It gives them a good break. It helps them reset their mental fatigue too.

In fact they are super happy and high on energy even at the very last period of the day.

Also they only have to leave their floor for food or sports. Otherwise its mostly just shuffling between classrooms that are quite close to each other. All possible due to the awesome timetable that we have!

Teachers

How are teachers selected?

Walnut School teachers are the best trained teachers for our learning system. Not surprisingly, we have a very intricate hiring process.

Our team carefully goes through every application and checks qualifications. We have a challenging entrance test – where their language skills, comprehension skills and analytical skills are tested.

Candidates who pass through the entrance test have to conduct demo lessons which are observed by our senior team members and reported back to the head office. The head office then goes through the data and takes a decision of whether to hire the candidate teacher or not.

But our teachers are the happiest and the least stressed teachers as compared to any other school. With planning, there is no work stress, as hours are fixed. Then, the culture of the school is very open and innovative, which makes every day very interesting.

Our parents join us as teachers, which says a lot about our culture – a big Walnut Family!

How do you manage teacher attrition?

Attrition is a global phenomenon – and schooling is not that immune to it.

We are as affected as any other industry.

Since we are woman dominated, other than attrition, there are emergency circumstances where we may even be going on extended leaves.

At Walnut, we have a “bench” of extra teachers to step in and take over. Since we are system driven, another teacher can just step in and take over. It doesn’t happen – but even if there is a different teacher EVERY DAY – it will make no difference. Things will proceed as per the plan, regardless.

At Walnut School, we have different teachers for each subject. So even when a teacher changes its not a 100% change for the child. Std 1 has 11 subjects – so the student is exposed to about 5 to 11 teachers! One teacher changing in the worst case is just a 20% change.

The content, presentation, planning, worksheets, homework for every period come from the R&D department. So even if the teacher changes, the approach and execution does not.

In other schools when the teacher changes there is great upheaval in the classroom. Not at Walnut School. The dedicated separate R&D team at head office makes all this possible.

How do you train teachers?

We are very system driven at Walnut School.

We have a separate team at the head office that helps with the content, processes and systems.

So a good analogy is how you learn how to drive. You learn the techniques, the skills, the meaning of different signs and rules. You learn how to read a map and follow directions. Once you know that, you can follow google maps and reach any destination, right?

So our training is like learning how to drive – or learning how to use the system. Once that is done, with our subject background – our teachers can teach the content that they are expected to. Teachers at Walnut School also get enough time to prepare on Saturdays and even have time during the week due to a superb timetable.

This also helps as when teachers give good ideas and observations and suggestions to the head office, the content gets updated and it keeps on improving, creating a virtuous cycle.

Teaching

Do students not have textbooks? How do they learn?

Walnut School follows uses the CBSE prescribed NCERT textbooks right from Std. 1.

However, the CBSE (NCERT) textbooks of Std 1 to 5 are very low level for Walnut  School students.

With the way we approach learning, our students pick up things very fast and go quite ahead. Also, according to how CBSE has planned the curriculum, there is a big jump from Std 5 to 6 where students struggle quite a bit.

So, what we do at Walnut is that we have created much better learning material for the kids using the CBSE prescribed NCERT textbooks. It is quite advanced and the students actually start the Std 6 curriculum with the CBSE (NCERT) textbooks in the second half of Std 5 itself.

At that point, the students have their own set of textbooks at home and we provide them with textbooks in the school. Our students advance quickly through these as well and by the middle of Std 8 itself they are able to start answering some questions of Std 10!

Do we encourage external competitive exams?

We participate in government scholarship exams and some innovation and programming competitions which we have gone through and found to be actually beneficial to the students (And, no surprise, we’ve gotten splendid results in all of these!)

We do not encourage participation in private competitions because they are endless and most of them are also quite meaningless. Also the coordination and organization burden is just too much and we do not have the bandwidth for all the logistics.

What’s the big deal about this planned learning?

Planned Learning helps to break up a lesson into small chunks (Decomposition, if you talk of computational thinking :)).

For example – If a lesson is conventionally allotted 6 periods then the teacher would teach for 4 periods and then the last 2 periods would be QA. With our planning, we teach one fifth of the lesson each day – discuss that one fifth – students do exercises in CW and HW on that one fifth, sleep at night, come back the next day ready to build on those concepts.

They have a base to build on for day 2. And then on day 6, there is an overall revision of the whole lesson – so its a second cycle for the same stuff.

In the last week before the exam the students do it again a few more times.

This gives us spaced repetition which gives really great academic outcomes. This is all also supported by neurology research that is happening these days!

If there are no bags, textbooks, notebooks – how will we know what is going on in school?

No bag is a great thing!

Textbooks : We very much have textbooks! Your set is at home and we provide textbooks in school.

Notebook : students “build” a notebook at home, as the worksheets go on getting filed.

Daily updates : Details of each period sent directly to the parent, what was taught and how it was taught. All through our own Wal-Sh app

Written exams : The papers are checked and sent home to you.

Digital MCQ exams : You can access these from anywhere as they are from our own Walmiki App.

PTMs with the subject teacher : Almost 8 opportunities over the year to speak with the core subject teachers. You can pick the subjects you feel interested in and the time that suits you best.

Without doubt, what we provide at Walnut School, cannot be provided as a complete solution any place else.

Worksheets

Are worksheets enough for learning till 10th grade?

Take a look at the worksheets. Its not a “light” way of learning. In fact, it is super intense and it doubles the efficiency of teaching and learning as compared to a conventional classroom.

Worksheets eliminate the wasted activities of copying things down from the board or noting down “dictated” stuff by teachers.

The students and teachers get straight to business of learning with worksheets.

Another advantage is that teachers do not have to carry heavy notebooks and the students always have their work with them – except for the sheet that the teacher is checking.

If you look at the amount of writing and work that the students do, because of worksheets it is actually a lot more – not less.

That also helps us do advanced academics. Our Std 8 students can answer many Std 10 questions – and they do it with a smile – no unnecessary stress.

Where else have you seen this happening? Cannot be any place else, other than Walnut School!

What’s the need to go bagless, when we have learnt with bags and books?

Do you not like progress and better ideas and systems? You did not have mobile phones or OTT when you were young, but those things are around now.

If there are better ways of doing something, why not go for them. Also – when you were young you did not do even half of the variety of things that the Walnut students are doing.

In fact, no other school is doing that even right now! We do so much that it is not possible for students to carry a bag.

We checked, it would get so very heavy – it would be impossible to carry for kids. Also it would be a nightmare to pack every day. This keeps the unneccessary stress away and keeps the main thing the main thing.

Also, this is not a “new” thing that we are trying out. We have been doing this for multiple decades now 🙂