In 2009, when Tariq Manzoor Khan joined his first posting at Govt. Primary School Payer in Pulwama as a teacher, the school was in a dilapidated condition with few classrooms and without basic amenities which pained him.
Hailing from Dalipora area, Khan said after some time he was more inclined towards his students. It was the turning point in his life after which he did not look back.
The teacher is known for his innovative teaching methods that too in a government school. From video lessons to novel teaching strategies, he is gaining popularity among people.
“I tried to connect people with government schools as there was a lack of trust. During this campaign we reached a large number of people with social media,” he said.
Khan later adopted an elementary school in Pulwama which was defunct for many years. He tried to make it a model school in the entire district. “There are no special teachers for students,” he said. He wants to create an example of a teaching-learning environment.
The teacher along with the cooperation of school management separated the kindergarten section from this school and trained the teachers personally for the same. “It was a tough exercise and took him a few months to do the same,” he said.
“There were 250 students enrolled in the entire school and for the Kindergarten section, they had to take fresh admissions. We first thought that admission intake would not go beyond 50 but it crossed 120 with the support and trust of people,” he said.
Khan said, initially, people were reluctant to send their children to this school. After a few months, my parents were satisfied. “I am trying to create same environment in government schools
“My idea is always if kids aren’t excited to come to class, then I’m wrong. I also try to maximize engagement by doing as many hands-on things as possible, but also balancing those hands-on activities with curriculum,” Khan said.
One of his fun activities includes the cooking classes where the making of snacks is taught to the students of elementary school. He said the activity is often done in private schools and he wants to use his knack for a cooking activity to channel the energy of students.
Khan has completed his Masters in Education, M.ED, B.ED, M.Phil, and also a 2 years diploma course in cooking. He also has Masters in Psychology from IGNOU to his credit.
After completing his studies, he was appointed as a lecturer in Kashmir Creative Education Foundation in Pulwama and later joined the Education Department in 2009.
“My son is also studying in the school. We have to change ourselves and then society will follow,” he said.
Khan has been a resource person for various agencies both at the district, State and NCERT levels for training teachers to prepare them for innovative ideas and methods.
He also prepares lesson plans and state modules. He is also working on more innovative ideas in the region.
From the past several years, the school had earned laurels from the government for Khan’s unique way of imparting classes by singing to the students. “Engaging students with fun activities and making them relevant in the current scenario is the need of the hour,” he said.
“I prepare songs, lessons related to various subjects including mathematics and science for joyful learning for students. Children are also interested to learn quickly this way,” he said.
Khan is using low-cost techniques while teaching students. The techniques are generally made from trash found to avail Teaching Learning Material (TLM) practically.
He said teaching with innovative methods is the need of the hour in schools so that students could have all concepts cleared while teaching in the classroom.
“Doing things practically helps students in easy learning. It creates an atmosphere of freedom for proper learning. Learning should be related to life and not to books,” he said.
In 2021, Khan received the Young Achievers Award from LG Manoj Sinha in recognition of his contribution as an academician and as school teacher. He is also a recipient of ‘National Education Brilliance Award (NEBA)’ for his innovative ideas.
His efforts were also recognized for increasing enrolment and raising awareness of government schools in Kashmir by CEO Pulwama.
Khan also bagged the best teacher award from DC Pulwama during the Covid-19 pandemic.
About innovative ways of teaching, he said it needs patience and creative work rather than opting for traditional methods of teaching.
“Earlier, we used to teach students in an imaginary way but in the present time, teachers have to be practical and innovative to make the teaching-learning process easy,” he said.
“Taking part in various activities in the classroom including creative games, music, art, painting, communicating with peers and interactive sessions makes teaching more interesting. These activities enhance the various aspects of a child’s development,” he said.
Khan said the pre-primary stage of education is very crucial for a child's development.
“This area is often overlooked and needs attention. There is often an overemphasis on the study of cognitive components of the development of a child,” he said.
Khan said the play-way method uses activity-based learning which he said encourages creative skills and self-expression and reinvigorates children and enhances their learning abilities.
“Every teacher is trying his level best to teach students, but they are struck as some of them lack innovative skills and methods,” Khan said.
“I have used trash and scrap material including foam, fabric bags, ice cream covers, polythene, trash bottles, pebbles, tree leaves, glasses, cards, detergent, biscuit covers, and other things to make teaching more interesting to learn,” he said.
As per him, the students have a lot of fun participating in educational activities and they learn math seamlessly without being conscious that they are getting some serious learning.
About challenges, Khan said there are hurdles at every stage but one has to face them happily and move on. “I have never thought of getting an award and recognition but I have worked very hard to teach my students,” he said.
“I am thankful to each and everyone including my students and the Education Department particularly for helping in getting this prestigious award,” Khan said.
“During the Covid19 pandemic, social media was the only option to connect with students. I started uploading videos on Facebook and YouTube and got a good response from my students,” he said.
Apart from teaching, Khan is a popular chef blogger in Kashmir and has been promoting Kashmiri food globally through social media platforms. He has more than 1 lakh followers on Facebook and 20K subscribers on YouTube.
“Some people also troll me on social media but I always try to avoid them. Most of the feedback is positive as my videos are helpful to everyone,” he said.
In his message to teachers, Khan said there should be proper planning and hard work for every class. “We have to include innovative methods in teachers and have to become 24/7 teachers in our lives, then there will be a vibrant change in our society,” Khan said.