A sheepish look on his face, chemistry teacher Pramod Rajpal picked up his phone for a conversation with his 12-year old daughter during a break between classes.
"She has a math assignment to submit tomorrow. I used to get back home and teach her. But I won't have time tonight. I have to design an activity for my class ...," Rajpal explained after ending his conversation.
The next moment, Rajpal excitedly began describing the activity he had planned for class X students at the Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya on the Delhi's Minto Road where he teaches.
The academic and evaluation reforms introduced by the CBSE to help students have also dramatically transformed the work of teachers.
Rajpal's activity is part of the Comprehensive and Continuous Evaluation (CCE) system that for the first time this year has replaced the Board examination as the sole determiner of a student's class X performance.
Students who shift school after class X will need to appear for the Board examination, but all others will be evaluated through the CCE in their schools. The year has been divided into two terms, and each term consists of two formative assessments (FA) and a term-end summative assessment (SA).
While the SA is a pen-paper test along traditional lines, the FA consists of activities that are aimed at testing a student's ability to correlate bookish knowledge to the real world.
"The CCE hasn't helped just students. It has encouraged teachers to innovate, think of new, out-of-the box activities," said Syamala Srivatsa, biology teacher at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.
The regular feedback that teachers get through assessment allows them to pinpoint and revise course components some students may not have grasped, Sunita George, Vice Principal of Mumbai's RN Podar School said.
But continuous evaluation through activities also means more work for teachers, often leaving them with less time to spend with their own children.
"That's the challenge we face. The reforms mean we have to reassess how we are teaching — which is a good thing — but at a huge cost to our personal lives...," complained a English teacher at Delhi Public School, RK Puram.
The workload on teachers in government schools is set to increase even more than in private schools, because of a massive shortage in teachers.
At the Minto Road school for instance, the government has asked teachers like Rajpal to work two shifts.
But teachers will come to terms with the workload, once they become accustomed to the new approach towards teaching, argued SPV social sciences teacher Jayshree Mohan.