World Teachers’ Day is back, as always, on 5 October! On this occasion, we aim to celebrate inspiring teachers around the world, whose work deserves to be highlighted. In this article, meet Neeta from India, who has a passion for academic development and developing effective strategies to reach curriculum goals.

We met Neeta through the Teachers for the Planet Programme, a global coalition co-led by the Aga Khan Foundation, Learning Planet Institute and Teach For All, which witnesses inspiring examples of outstanding educators all around us. It puts teachers and education leaders at the centre of the educational response to our climate crisis.

Are you an exceptional educator like Neeta, working to address the climate crisis in your school? We are now collecting solutions, 100 of which will be presented to policymakers at COP28. 

What / Who are your sources of inspiration?

Great educationists, educational psychologists, scientists, activists, politicians, and leaders, any human being that is genuinely self. The greatest inspiration in my current phase is  Victor Frankl and his strong belief in the purpose of living. We all must have a purpose at every stage.

How do you involve kids on topics that are important to you?

I have a story/context/social cause to teach topics that are important to me through experiential learning. If I am teaching biotechnology topics like Bt crops, I teach techniques involved in the creation of the crops, and their insecticidal action, and then open a discussion on the impact of these crops through worldwide and indian contexts, ranging from large-scale cultivation to subsistence farming. Students are able to link the recent protest by the farmers against the Bt crops and validate the event. It is important that all disciplines be taught with a multi-disciplinary approach and allow students to apply their understanding of the socio-economic aspect of it.

 What’s the best advice your students have given you?

Learn to say no!

What are your main challenges as a teacher? 

Engaging all the students in the classroom so that they are motivated to engage in further research on the topic and drive their own learning. It is essential that students can see learning as an interconnecting process rather than a compartmentalized discipline study lacking an understanding of embedded ethical interdependence.

How does teacher shortage affect you in your daily working life?

Teacher shortage disrupts academic programmes and the implementation of the curriculum. This has a long-term impact on achieving learning outcomes; it strains the present human resources leading to burnout. A committed and qualified teacher is a scarce resource.

Do you feel valued as a teacher? Why? Why not?

I feel valued as a teacher. It is important that a teacher keeps growing, espeically in the first few years of teaching by updating subject knowledge and relevant pedagogies. This is to be followed by growing as an educator and then as a learning community leader, understanding the educational landscape at national and international levels.

How do you think the teaching profession could be better valued?

Besides national policies making education relevant to the present century, it’s the teaching community that should be relentlessly upgrading itself to make itself relevant to the present. It is important that we create a knowledge society and collaborate on the best practices.

How do you think the teaching profession could be better supported?  From whom do you receive the most support?

The teaching profession could be supported best through collaboration with national and international peers sharing their best practices. I receive the most support from the institution in terms of giving autonomy and trust laid in abilities.

Meet Dr. Neeta Bisht

I am a Senior School Coordinator and Head of the Department of Biology at the Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet. I am an Educational Administrator with a passion for academic development and developing effective strategies to reach curriculum goals. I am also committed to establishing a supportive and inclusive environment for all the stakeholders.

 I am engaged in academic research in inclusive pedagogies, school-based assessments, and experiential learning. I have been teaching Biology to Secondary and Senior Secondary grades students for over two decades. 

I am a Salzburg Global Fellow, a member Asian Association of Biology Education, and a Life Member of the Biology Teacher Association, Philippines. I was part of Asia-Europe Foundation programme, ASEFClassNet2022 School Collaborations on (1) “Holistic Learning Environments for Innovative Teaching & Learning” and (2) “STEM Education through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).”