Pure Randomness!

Pure Randomness!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Holistic Reflection

Random thoughts about the last 4 months of teaching.

Holistic reflection

I just cannot stop talking about John. During the Principal’s meet, when Rohini Ma’am talked about John, I realised the full impact. Last year John sat with her in her office most of the time as the teacher could not handle him and his violence on other students. Also he disturbed the class continuously making in impossible for her to teach. This year John seems to be a completely changed student and she has not received any complaints from any student or teacher about him. If I have made any big difference to any one, it is for John. When we started in June, it was very difficult for John to sit still, listen for more than 2-3 minutes and not to pass by another student without hitting or pushing him. I visited and talked to his parents, spent hours and hours after class talking to him. The bond we developed has worked wonders. He has changed his behaviour, he listens and responds in class, doesn’t initiate a fight, though he still responds violently when he is provoked. He also makes sure that I know that he is behaving nicely just for my sake. So there is still more work to do. Also I am hoping that by behaving nicely for me everyday, it becomes a habit for him.

I just could not connect to Kiran and Rahul the way in which I could connect to John. I have tried the same things I have done with John and many more, but I still have not found the things that can make them listen and stop disturbing the class and stop hurting others.

My school is a private school and this gives me a lot of autonomy in my operations. I can take the classes how ever I want as long as I finish the portion. I set my own question paper, which again helps me in putting the focus on developing the skills of the students rather than the content. The teachers in my school watch us TFI fellows from a little bit of a distance. They don’t interfere and they don’t get involved also. Consciously I have not put in any effort in getting them involved either. It is a pity that I really have not learned anything worthwhile from the teachers or the principal yet.

I have only 13 students in my class. In the beginning when I started teaching I found this very disheartening and thought I am being completely under utilised. But once I found out that my 13 students are at 13 different levels starting from late KG to early 2nd standard, I stopped complaining. With 13 students even if I have so much variation, I might be able to make a difference to each and every one of them. I have students who could read only 3 words when we started. Now they can read 120 words. I still do not know whether this jump of 3 to 120 in 4 months is good enough or not. The gap scares me a lot. The goal of making a 1.5 to 2 years jump for each kid, doesn’t. The fact that that jump will take them only till 2nd grade to 3rd grade, does.

My students are all coming from very low income background expectedly, looking at the level of the school. I have formed a picture of each family but I really do not have the picture of a community as such. There are no 2 students in my class who are coming from the same community.

One thing my students have taught me is patience or acting patient even when at heart I am not feeling too patient. May be that itself is patience as it might not be possible to act patient when you cannot control the urge to do something impatient. When I have asked a student what I should do when after the 120th time, after 4 months, she is still reading ‘how’ as ‘who’, she told me that I should just tell her that it is ‘how’.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writing Samples

When I was studying in 9th standard, we got a few teachers who were studying B.Ed to teach us as a part of their training. I had a teacher, Susan Titus, who used to share the English writing assignments with me. I used to help her correct or tabulate the marks. So I brought the papers home and read them. I was appalled at the standard at which quite a few of my class mates wrote. I shared the writings with my siblings and we had fun reading those. At the age of 13 I was not bothered about the educational inequity or the low standards of my classmates, though somewhere it still bothered me. After so many years, when I looked at how my students write, that's what came to my mind first.
Here are a few selected samples of writing from my students which I wanted to share.

From my special kid. She was able to read 2 words when we started our struggle together 3 months back. Today she reads 99 words from the 300 sight words which I am teaching my students. Writing comes after reading and she is struggling with it.

MY CLass
MY CLass our is Very beautiful and MY chut MatHs Gol

Look at the perfect spelling of 'beautiful'. I have used the word as a password which they to pronounce and spell before they can enter the class sometime back and made sure all students learn that.

From the 13 year old in my class. After struggling for the last 3 months, we have succeeded in writing words with space in between them.

My seafe
My Name is [xxxx] I am in Std IV. B. My school Name is [xxxx] Meb school is ver samll I aM 13 year old My Fared is in Ramase I vele group i vere becea Ramase oabesur. My Mother is in Plosel. My salasey is ver in Docasese. My 5

Now this is what I have been able to decode from the undecodable.
The passage is about Myself (My seafe). My father is in Army and when I grow up I will become an Army officer. I do not know how Army can be Ramase. But I think I know how officer can be oabesur. The rest of the passage is completely Latin to me.

From the smallest little mouse in my class.
My kitten
My kitten is very nice. I play whit My kitten. My kitten name is Jerry. I like My kitten. My kitten colour is white. My kitten eat foods. My kitten favourite furit is apple. My kitten is very small. My kitten play whit Frinds. My kitten Frinds My is Name Ram.

After one round of correction and some tips, he came up with this piece of art.
My kitten
My kitten is very nice. I play with my kitten. My kitten's name is Jerry. I like my kitten. My kitten's colour is white. My kitten eats food. My kitten's favourite fruit is apple. My kitten is very small. My kitten plays with friends. My kitten's friend's name is Ram. My kitten jumps off the bed. My kitten's house colour is yellow. My kitten drinks milk. He loves me. He does my homework. He packs my bag. When I go to school, he gives me tiffin box. He gives me umbrella. He eats my food. He gives me pencil and eraser. He plays cricket.