For the past 21 years, Amit Bajaj has been on a mission to make mathematics exciting and engaging for his students. Amit serves as a Post Graduate Teacher at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) school at Rohini, New Delhi. He currently teaches grades 11 and 12, with about 40 students in every class.
Amit spoke to Quizizz about how his love for teaching mathematics started by tutoring young children in his free time, and how he adapted his teaching methods to suit the needs of students today.
What motivated you to work in education, and what keeps you motivated to continue doing so today?
My passion for teaching began about 25 years ago when I was studying in college. I started to tutor students for pocket money. Soon, I fell in love with teaching and education. I’m proud that I chose to be a teacher, and I’m proud that I’ve been able to make a difference in students’ lives.
My math teacher was extremely strict and I decided back then that I should remove this fear that students have of math and math teachers. Though sometimes being strict has its advantages, I decided I should approach teaching math in an engaging, relatable, and fun way. I’m glad that my students look forward to my classes!
What are some of your most rewarding moments in the field?
Teachers are also people who are more than just subject experts. So in my math classes, I strive to come across as a real person rather than somebody who is just always focused on math. And my students see me as a person, just like them.
I’m always proud of my students who are now doing exceedingly well in their careers, and I’m touched when they call back to let me know how they remember my teaching and that it pushed them to be better people. My students’ successes are my success, too!
What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in education?
I think with every generation there is an associated challenge that we get to face, fight and overcome. When I started out as a teacher, there was literally no technology — there were no computers! There was no YouTube or Google — none of it existed 25 years ago.
For years, we were forced to teach subjects with chalk and board and that’s how the status quo largely continued in most schools in India for the longest time.
More recently came the pandemic. Teachers were forced to learn technology and integrate it into their teaching methodologies and work with students remotely sitting at home! And all this happened overnight — quite literally. But I’d say that this was a defining moment in education in India. Today I’m so proud that every classroom in my school is equipped with digital boards and projectors.
Just knowing that these tools exist and the fact that I can use them to teach my subject effectively to my students, who are already exposed to technology, makes a big difference to me. I sometimes wish that these kinds of leaps and bounds in technology were around 25 years ago when I was a student.
I’m also learning that we’re constantly evolving with how to communicate with our students. Sometimes I might come across as strict, or if I don’t like something that my students did, there was a time when I wouldn’t have minded this, but now, I believe it is important to teach children in the way they like and not in the way we were taught. Every day is a new challenge and I’m grateful for my students because they push me to be a better teacher every day. ‘Learn, Unlearn and Relearn’ is my mantra.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
Patience is very important for any teacher, and for a math teacher, I’d say patience is required a bit more. I’d also say that humility, politeness, and being respectful to everybody are underrated qualities that are critical to success in life.
I’ve also learned that we as teachers need to be thoughtful about how we express our ideas to all the people that we interact with — not just our students, but also their parents, the higher management at school, the administrative and support staff, authorities in the boards of education. Each teacher like me has a role to play, every day, and each of our actions has long-term and long-lasting consequences.
What do you feel are the key items to a successful classroom?
Right from the moment you enter a class, your students are looking at you and they are seeing how you present yourself, how you present the subject, how you respond back to doubts, how well you receive questions or opinions, and even how we walk — you are teaching all the time! And it is a kind of power too because students are subconsciously getting influenced by all that we do. It is important to be aware of how we are perceived.
I’d also say that lesson planning is a must for all teachers to feel comfortable in a classroom. Even with 21 years of experience, I still cannot enter a classroom without having prepared content. But the best lesson planning has room for introspection and allows students to come up with questions and doubts. I consider time management and resource planning as critical skills.
What do you feel are the key items to a successful professional experience for teachers?
Success for a teacher would be two types: short-term and long-term goals. A short-term success goal would be to teach a concept in 30 minutes and see my students express awe or disbelief about how fascinating a math concept is, and how they want to try implementing that concept themselves.
In my case, I’ve observed that not all 12th grade students have the same attention spans and they are easily distracted by other subjects, assignments, homework, exams, and coaching class schedules. That’s why it is up to me, at that moment, to bring these students back to the concept I’m teaching, and be sure to not humiliate them by not paying attention in class.
A long-term success goal is to see how satisfied I feel when I teach my students. And I’m proud to say that I’ve been successful in my career!
As far as Quizizz, how does the product resonate with your values as an educator?
When I was introduced to Quizizz right in the middle of the pandemic, I was just browsing the app and was quite impressed with the content already there, ready to be hosted live or assigned as homework to my students. Jump to the last six months, I was seeing how Quizizz can be used with my students in the classroom now that we are back in school. I started preparing my quizzes for every chapter that I was teaching on Quizizz. I’d break a chapter into a series of exercises and every time I taught a concept as part of a chapter, I’d just pass along the Quizizz link with my students either for practice or as a homework assignment.
I also started to use Quizizz in school with my students every Saturday. But you must realize that most students, due to other commitments and deadlines, consider Saturday to be an off day and they prefer to skip class. But I thought, let’s do something else on Saturday instead, so we played Quizizz! In order to see the question and answer options on the whiteboard, I’d play the Quiz as a student, solve the problem with the class, and have them tell me which answer and why.
The reaction that I saw to us using Quizizz was phenomenal! The usually laid-back and unresponsive students literally sat up, were engaged, and gave all the correct answers. After a couple of questions, one of those boys even came to sit in the front seat! His excitement and anticipation for Quizizz was evident, and that’s when I realized I was sitting on a gold mine — Quizizz is perfect to motivate students to come back to a subject they initially thought is too tough. To see them transform into students who genuinely ask to solve math problems using Quizizz is amazing!
The best part is that these students who showed up on Saturdays for Quizizz told their friends about it, and then the strength of my Saturday classes doubled and then tripled!
One other thing that I love about Quizizz is how it is constantly evolving and how every single time I open it up, there is something new for me to explore and I realize how perfectly it suits my students’ needs. I recently found out about the Quizizz Audio questions and students submitting answers using audio and video formats. I also saw the Live Whiteboard — I get a feeling that Quizizz is constantly listening to teachers and helping them do their jobs better. Quizizz is truly a class apart!
What words do you think your students would use to describe you?
Hardworking, passionate, committed, dedicated, and sincere — my colleagues and students would describe me like this! My alumni love me more than my present students and I think this is true for all teachers!
Outside of education, what are some of your passions?
Googling! I love searching for new concepts and upskilling myself. I love watching movies — my favorites are the Bollywood classics. I also love listening to Ghazals.
I enjoy interacting and collaborating with other educators. Sharing is caring and we grow together when we share what we know with our family, friends, colleagues, and students, too!
You’ve inspired so many educators. Who are some educators and edu-creators that inspire you and why?
Srinivasa Ramanujam — the brilliant mathematician from India. I was inspired by him right from my school days. Such a brilliant and gifted mind — I still celebrate his birthday on Dec 22nd with my family in fond remembrance of his talent for mathematics and my respect for his contributions to the field that I have had the privilege of teaching for the last 20 years.
With a mission to ‘EMPOWER every teacher and MOTIVATE every learner’, Quizizz focuses on educators around the world who help us navigate through the EdTech industry. We are honored to enable our teacher community to meaningfully support all their students in all capacities. Together we are on our way to motivate every child to achieve mastery in the classroom and success in the real world.