It is my fourth day here at Vidyashilp and I feel at home here. The I have observed several classes and I cannot pick a favorite. The teachers welcome me into their classroom with open arms and do everything in their power to make us comfortable. For example, they know it is quite hot and humid for us Americans and have us observe in the most comfortable area where the fans are. Some of the students giggle because this is their cold season. When I explain to them that it feels hot to us they cannot believe it.
The students at Vidyashilp (Shilp), and all of the schools we visited were ecstatic that we were coming to their school. I have already been asked to stay at Shilp forever. The students beg me to come to their classes and I tell them I will try my best to visit their class at least once. Their eagerness and openness to learn is incredible. I feed off their excitement and I am so blessed to be apart of this school.
The structure of the schooling is quite different than that of The States. In elementary school here the students have a base classroom and the teachers rotate. For example, if I was in the math department I would have several different classes throughout the day. It is similar to high school structure but instead of the students moving from class to class its the teachers. I like this idea because in our elementary school they have the same teacher for all of the subjects and having several teachers gives them the best qualified individual for that subject. I also think it gives them variety in their school day.
Speaking of the school day, these students are so independent. They know their schedules by heart and are expected to be on time. As I said above they have a base classroom that they stay in for their core subjects. However they each have a few activities they go to everyday. These are like art, music, dance, yoga, etc. The students are expected to know when their classes are and what time they need to be there. A teacher does not escort them to their activities like they do in The States because each student has a specific activity based on their strengths and interests. When the teachers are rotating classes during transition time, the classes are by themselves. They are expected to put away the previous classes things, and get out what they need for the next class. This independence creates a sense of responsibility that I admire. This is something I want to bring back to The States because I think it creates a mutual respect and trust for each other. That is so important in the student-teacher relationship. The respect has to be there before the learning can happen.
The longer I spend in India the more things I learn. I have been a sponge this whole trip, absorbing everything that comes my way: trying new food, buying authentic Indian clothing, learning the culture, making relationships with the staff and students. The memories and knowledge I gain everyday surpasses all of my expectations in the best way.