Tag Archives: TFI

Teach for India: Take 2…Year 2

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Ramesh concentrating on his design

Ramesh concentrating on his design

Two weeks of school complete!! YAY!!! Week 1 was good, but week 2 was a struggle. My co-fellows and I were constantly saying how our kids are getting to us and we are to them and school has only started. My thoughts take me back to the exactly the same time last year when I pretty much left my class crying. That Thursday is forever etched in my mind.

Coming back to the present, while planning my week I could not think of a better way to end it. I had my class do a project inspired by the artwork of Henry Matisse. For the next twenty minutes my kids and I probably had the best time we had this entire week. Cutting paper, thinking about designs, helping each other and making something beautiful.

Matisse said that his art really kept him going during the tough days. And right now I can’t agree more. Seeing the kids get so excited and enjoying this activity just made this tough week worthwhile. I can’t wait to see what these kids come back with on Monday!

Rohan's beautiful Matisse inspired craft

Rohan’s beautiful Matisse inspired craft

 

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The Simple Pleasures

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A month into teaching and its been a whirlwind ride. From the first week to now, every day has been a new experience. More than anything it has been a learning experience. Getting to know each and every one of my students, what they like and do not like, seeing them work together in teams and watching them try and learn in class. It been a lot of trial and error for me;

My Math Vocab Wall, Team Chart (shields are the Harry Potter Houses) and Reading Strategies Poster.

My Math Vocab Wall, Team Chart (shields are the Harry Potter Houses) and Reading Strategies Poster.

what makes perfect sense in my mind and on paper doesn’t necessarily mean that it will go that way in the class. Actually some of my best planned lessons have flopped because I forgot to account to what possibly could go wrong in class and ended up with 40 10-12 year old jumping on tables. There have been days when I have left school extremely frustrated, tired and even angry. However, one thing that I have come to cherish is the unconditional love from my students. They want to help me in anything and everything, from carrying my file folder to bag to sticking up all our class charts. Somedays it can be a lot, just imagine 40 kids screaming “Didi, Didi, Didi” right when you walk into school just because they are so excited to see you and help you. It is way different from walking into my HR, recruiting world.

Our class jobs board, we have Prefects (class monitors) and Keepers (class cleanliness leaders). The students vote for their leaders every two weeks.

Our class jobs board, we have Prefects (class monitors) and Keepers (class cleanliness leaders). The students vote for their leaders every two weeks.

When the best laid lesson plans fail and all my class behavior strategies are not working, anger and frustration is just an understatement. However, my students change my attitude as quickly as they caused it. Each kid still wants to give me a high five and hug when they leave class. One hug and high five is enough to remove all that fatigue. Such a simple gesture from these little kids has been the best reward.
Leaving all of you with some pictures of my class and notes from my students.

Best Notes (Owl Mail as we call them in Class)

Best Notes (Owl Mail as we call them in Class)

Surviving Week 1: Who is the Teacher?

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So school has officially started this past Monday, June 17th! I can’t believe I have been teaching my “own” class for a week. So how has the week been?  It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. Let me just quickly recount some the things I faced during the first week.

My school for the next two years, Sitaram Abaji PMC in Pune

My school for the next two years, Sitaram Abaji PMC in Pune

With no designated classroom the first day, my kids (20 showed up on the first day) walked up and down 4 floors at least 3 times within a span of 5 minutes. By the time we got a temporary class allocated to us, my kids were quite drained and actually, so was I. But it was okay as the kids greeted me with huge smiles on the first day. They were budding with questions…what did I do before? Where do I live? What do I like to eat? Day 1 ended on a good note, I was able to teach them at least two class procedures and I was content with that. I was all charged up for Day 1!

Class 5B on a Saturday Morning!

Class 5B on a Saturday Morning!

Day 2 rolled around and it was a completely different story. Not only did I realize that due to lack of teachers in the school, I am actually acting like a class teacher for my 5th grade students. On one hand, this was a victory as I now get more time with the students and can really focus on building the core values. However, inside I was panicking because I hadn’t planned enough activities for them!!! On top it all, I felt like I had forgotten everything that was taught to me during institute, especially giving explicit directions and accounting for all things that could go wrong in a class. Anything that could go wrong…pretty much did. I had kids hitting one another, climbing on tables, running around screaming on top of their heads, and one even cried. I was with my kids the entire day and I felt that I was able to teach them nothing. They weren’t listening at all, there was no management in the class, and by the end of it, I almost was on the verge of tears. I left the school thinking will my class ever become the “model” class shown to us in the training videos? Will I ever be able to teach and make a change for these kids? I even asked myself…who is the teacher…me or them?

My individual, Harry Potter, inspired tracker. The kids really want those snitches!

My individual, Harry Potter, inspired tracker. The kids really want those snitches!

I came back home and found myself planning even more. I had to figure out enough activities to keep the students engaged and interested in the class. I hadn’t planned to really bring my class consequences out this early, but decided that this was probably the way to go. Oh, I forgot to mention, I am using Harry Potter as the basis of my class theme. I started giving individual students golden snitches for positive behavior. It worked like a charm!!! Kids wanted those golden snitches and I had everybody’s attention. A huge proud moment for me was when ALL of my students were lined up outside my class exactly as I wanted them to be before school started. I had the bragging rights of telling other fellows that those were my kids lined up neatly outside of the class 🙂

I don’t want to bore all of you but long story short, each day is a surprise. I never know what my kids will do or how they will behave. Which activities will work…which won’t. My daily plan for the kids is constantly running in my mind, how can I make the class better. What do I need to focus on. It’s a challenge, but so far, I am enjoying this journey!

Life at Flame:TFI Summer Institute

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Sorry for the break in blogging! I have undergoing some rigorous and immensely enjoyable training at Teach for India’s first institute at FLAME near Pune. This is my second week of teaching summer school for 18 little 2nd graders! The experience has been great! I never knew all the work and planning that went into being a teacher! Time at the school just seems to fly. We are back at FLAME for an afternoon and evening filled of sessions covering content and lesson planning strategy.

I promise to write about the experience in more detail soon, but I need to get back to planning my reading fluency lesson. Keeping little ones engaged for 30 minutes is hard, and I am making Google and Pinterest my teaching assistants.

Leaving you with a few picture of my time at FLAME and teaching summer school.

The little pup that entertains me at FLAME <3

The little pup that entertains me at FLAME ❤

My summer school teaching collab ready for first day of school.

My summer school teaching collab ready for first day of school.

Me in my teacher outfit! Mixed a top from FabIndia with patiala pants.

Me in my teacher outfit! Mixed a top from FabIndia with patiala pants.

Reflection: TFI Institute

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So I have a new career path: becoming the best teacher I can be, through Teach For India (TFI), and working towards solving the educational inequality gap in India. To be honest, when I applied for TFI I wasn’t really sure about it. I mean I was familiar with Teach for America, had read up on TFI, and was also aware of the inequality gap, but wasn’t sure if I was in a position to do something about it. One of main things that attracted me to TFI was that the fellowship (where you actually become a full-time teacher at a low income school for two years) is also about personal change and growth. That was probably the top thing that bought me here.

Institute, which is a rigorous 5 week training that all incoming fellows undergo, started three days ago and yes, it has been overwhelming with various sessions, community visits, and team building activities, but I also feel like I really only now have had the chance to do a very simple, yet important, thing and that is reflect. Reflect on my actions, my struggles, and feelings. Reflection is one the core values of TFI and on surface it sounds quite simple. I mean I can reflect! I know how I feel, why I feel a certain why, etc. But do I really?

Over the past three days, TFI has forced me to reflect on some the simplest to post profound experiences. How it felt to connect with a child when I entered a low income community. Did I really experience teamwork? What has been a problem I have been struggling with for a while? Why do I hide the way I feel at times? Who is the most important person to me?

These answers might be easy. However, when one has to peel back the onion and really think about the mindset we operate in, the reason behind that belief, and how do we not judge ourselves or others, the reflection isn’t as easy. I have experienced a wide range of emotions over the past few days-those of hope, fear, nervousness, gratitude, belief, confusion, and joy. I think these reflections have forced me to sit and analyze why I behave or feel a certain why. I am not saying that now I know the answers to it all or have a complete understanding in the power of reflecting (to the extent that TFI does), but it has opened the door to thoughts and feelings I probably didn’t let come out before.

TFI truly believes that reflection will help us becoming better leaders and professionals. We should do it frequently so we can constantly improve and give back to our students. I am sure that reflecting upon myself as a teacher and individual will be difficult, somedays I probably won’t want to reflect at all, and may be when I do, the thoughts and answers might be confusing and that is okay.

It may sounds weird, but when was the last time you sat and really reflected upon yourself?