Safaris & School Days

Wow I think I say this every week but I can’t believe it has already been 2 1/2 weeks since we have arrived in Bangalore, India. The past several days have been very busy and so much fun. Everything we have been doing has been such a learning/growing experience. This weekend our whole group went to the Bannerghatta National Park to go on a safari. We saw tigers, lions, bison, bears, and elephants. When I say we “saw” these animals I mean we were at most 3 feet away from lions and tigers and bears. Yes, I do have pictures to prove it. We went first through the safari in a large bus to see these animals up close. The whole experience took about an hour but it felt like 10 minutes because there was so much to look at and we were all in awe. At one point we saw two tigers up on their hind legs fighting like boxers. We heard the “roars” and all of our jaws dropped. Luckily, they weren’t very close when this happened. We were having so much fun that we decided to go back around through the safari a second time. This time we split into 2 groups of 6 and went in jeeps. This way we got to see the animals much closer. (As if we weren’t close enough before.) On our way back around the second time, the misty rain had stopped so the elephants came much closer to the road where we could see them. This was absolutely incredible. Seeing pictures will not do the experience justice. I love how these animals travel in packs. It reminds me of our group here in Bangalore, never go anywhere without each other ;).

My experience at DPS-North has been nothing short of perfect. Sowmya ma’am, our coordinator and coolest 5th grade math teacher ever, has been scheduling us every single day so that we are observing and participating in the school environment as much as possible. She even sets us up with lunch dates everyday with a new teacher. Sometimes she makes the teachers share their homemade Indian food, and we don’t mind this at all. The students, teachers, and all of the staff have been so welcoming and we are so grateful to have them. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me walking around DPS-North (most likely lost and looking for a classroom) and hearing “Sarah ma’am how are you today?!” from all of the students. Their hugs and kind faces make the lack of sleep so worth it.

Today was especially interesting at school. Manju ma’am, our lovely principal, set us up to attend a workshop given by Dr. Raj Rajagopal. Dr. Rajagopal is a professor from the University of Iowa. Along with many of his accomplishments, Dr. Rajagopal organizes a program that takes 150-200 students from the University of Iowa to India every single year since 2006. I thought our group of 12 was big! His workshop today was called “Posing Questions as a Teaching Strategy.” In other words, how to get students engaged in the classroom. Dr. R talked about the struggles of getting students to want to be in class and how they can be involved in their learning. In order to not overload you with information I will give you a few bullet points of the major tips he shared with us.

  • Give your students the responsibility to self-organize; It is not your presentation anymore, it is theirs
  • Let your students pick the topic; empower them
  • Teach the subject with history of it
  • Teach with passion and connection
  • Get to know your students; teach the students not the subject
  • Doing something to affect change and student’s lives is much more important than the books
  • Teach children techniques to succeed. I.e. partitioning and chunking

I will end this blog post with the thing that stuck out the most to me from Dr. Rajagopal’s workshop. He said, “Turn on every morning. Because really what other choice do you have? Do you want to be dull?”

Until next time,

Sarah

 

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