Prana Thoppil teaches forensics and anatomy and physiology to students at Nimitz High School. But those aren’t her only students. The educator of 20 years trains teachers across the country and even the globe.
Thoppil has worked with teachers at Amrita Vidyalayam Schools in India for eight years through Embracing the World, imparting her best practices on classroom management, engagement and creating lessons that are adjustable with plentiful or minimal resources.
“I found myself repeating certain points frequently,” she says. “I started thinking that a quick handbook that could be referenced would be helpful to new teachers and veteran teachers alike.”
So she compiled them into a book that was recently published by Amazon, Tools for Teachers: Practical Tools and Tips To Improve Classroom Management.
“I started to organize my thoughts and came up with 10 tools that would help presenters, whether they are elementary teachers, middle/high school teachers or workshop presenters,” says Thoppil. “Before I knew it, the book kind of wrote itself.”
The book focuses on the importance of classroom management to facilitate creative lessons and higher thought processes.
“I believe if you can manage your classroom, you can teach anything,” she says. “Once you have procedures and processes in place and students know you are in control of the classroom, imparting knowledge (on the teacher’s part) and receiving and imbibing that knowledge (on the student’s part) becomes simple and engaging. My hope is that these tools empower teachers to create fun, engaging lessons that have students eating up that knowledge and asking for more.”
Greenfield Public Schools in Massachusetts bought 50 copies of Thoppil’s book for their new teachers, and Thoppil has helped the school system develop a mentoring program. She also offered a Skype session for new teachers that included an author Q&A and a presentation on how to manage the classroom.
“Structure is vital to a successful classroom,” she says. “You can have a fun classroom but still have processes and procedures in place that ensure activities run smoothly, and kids will still see it as fun and enjoyable even though there are ‘rules’ to follow.”
Thoppil says she has always wanted to teach in some way or form.
“I started teaching and coordinating our temple’s Sunday school classes when I was in high school, and I loved it,” she says. “Then when I was in medical school to become a doctor, I realized that I loved science but disliked the hospital and insurance parts of practicing medicine. My grandparents were teachers and principals, and my aunts and uncles are teachers. I substituted until I knew which grades I wanted to teach.”
Now she’s closing out two decades of teaching in Irving, serving as the national coordinator for her value-based Sunday school classes and whose curriculum is used internationally.
And we’re lucky to have her in Irving ISD.