Today is the Fourth of July, which is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. However, it is obviously a holiday only celebrated in the United States. This morning I caught myself thinking about how I normally spend the fourth at the pool with my friends and how a year ago I never would have thought that I would instead be in India! Unlike other years, today I got to spend the day in English classes with 1st, 4th, and 5th graders. It was my first day actually sitting in on classes at Vidyashilp Academy. I started my day with a first grade lesson called, “Go Out and Enjoy.” It was a lesson focused around the keywords of what to pack for a picnic. The first graders were all very eager to share their ideas of what foods to bring. After this class, I took a break from academics and joined a yoga class. I was very excited because I do a lot of yoga at home. I then went to a fourth grade class where they had a lesson called, “Despicable Duos.” This lesson was about “The Twits” by Roald Dahl. They read it as a class and discussed the characteristics of the Twits, focusing on the meaning of exaggeration and how it was used. There was also a lot of humor in there. Finally, I went to a fifth grade class where the lesson was about “Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The class discussed how to use clues to put pieces together. At first, they used me as an example. The class picked out clues about me to decide how they knew where I was from. From different parts of my appearance to my accent (the deciding factor between the US and the UK), the students “decided” I was probably from the United States. So far, the English classes that I have seen are not much different than the United States and share many of the same components. The lessons each had an overall theme and keywords that the class went over together while the students wrote them down in their notebooks. I noticed in the two older grades that the reading material was also similar. When discussing Sherlock Holmes, the students compared him to Nancy Drew. I found this specific lesson to feel very familiar and easily could have been a lesson in a class at my grade school.
The biggest difference that I have seen so far is not in the lessons themselves, but in the teaching system. Teachers are not assigned to one grade or classroom. Instead, the teachers have their subject, for example English, and only teach English. The teacher goes to different grades throughout the day to teach their subject while the students stay in their same room. A teacher might teach a first grade class and then go to a fifth grade class right after. I am used to our elementary system where we are given a grade and stay with just our class all day. It is interesting to see how the same teacher has to change their way of teaching throughout the day depending on which grade they are in at the time.
As for Bangalore, I am still getting used to the city. I am finding that I am finally beginning to recognize places and know my whereabouts a little better. For those of you who know me, directions and navigation are not my strength so I feel I am doing pretty good so far. After only a week, the group is already frustrated with getting ripped off by rickshaws and we have turned to ubering (lol) until we know our way around a little more. Yesterday, a few of us ubered to check out the Bengaluru Hard Rock Café for lunch. It was very yummy! Tonight, a group of us is planning to attend a crowd favorite, Plan B, for dinner to celebrate the Fourth of July- India style.