Hands Raised, Kids Yelling

Well it’s official: I officially taught a class by myself. You have no idea how amazing it is to say that. In the weeks past, I’ve been diligently observing and taking notes of things I’ve seen in the classroom. Whether it’s classroom discipline, problem solving, or taking notes, there’s surely a note scribbled in my notepad about it. I was and am anxious to see the differences and similarities within the Indian school system and the American one. Much to my surprise, the similarities outweighed the differences. Lessons more or less go on the same; worksheets cover the same material. I was happy to observe for as long as I did because I began to get a better sense of what I was wanting to do.

I always had the idea of what me teaching would look like. I laugh as I type this because I realize that on any given day, my teaching approaches would vary. I imagined a silent classroom, every hand in the air, and a deep interest in the subject. I’ve learned in this short time in India that silence is very rare. Car horns are always honking, music always playing, and someone always talking. To some, this might be frustrating. To me, it reminds me of home. As many of you know, I’m from a large family of 9 not including my dogs and my grandparents who live next door. Silence was rare. I thrived in the constant noise. In fact, when my older siblings went off to college, the silence was unnerving. I can’t tell you how many times I turned on some music and the television just to have some back noise (much to my parents anger).

Indian classrooms aren’t much different. While silence is present, it’s never long. This surely isn’t exclusive to Indian classrooms, but for me this is all I’ve known. I have not yet begun working in the classroom as I’ve just been accepted into Phase 2. I’ve worked with children, but not to this capacity. So having a teacher comfortable enough in my abilities to allow me to take over a class is amazing to me. Sukanaya, thank you.

So today was the day! Sukanaya approached me during the second period and asked if the lesson I was preparing for tomorrow was ready for today. It’s a good thing I was anxious with this task and completed it as soon as I got it. I assured her I was ready and I tried to calm my nerves. It seems silly that I was nervous, but I couldn’t help it. These 4th standard children are unbelievably intelligent and in no way shy. Couple that with it being my first time to take over a classroom, and I started sweating. Luckily the lesson was pretty straight forward: we would be reading a short story and discussing some questions as a class. The story was about an emperor who heard a beautiful song from an ugly nightingale. He caged this bird, created a beautiful mechanical bird, and sent the real one away. The story ends with the emperor being gravely ill and the nightingale singing it back to health. All in all, a pretty cute story with a great (and all too overlooked) moral: don’t judge a book by its cover.

When I was preparing for this lesson, I answered the questions myself in a matter-of-fact way. The children in both classes surprised me with their well thought out and meaningful answers. In many cases, they alluded to other stories telling a similar moral. The children were so excited to answer questions, they stood up, raised their arms, and yelled “ma’am” until I noticed them. This is quite possibly the cutest way to answer any question. It’s amazing to see just how eager they are to participate. They’re engaged and excited. What more could a teacher want?

I became less nervous; I eased into the lesson and while it wasn’t perfect, it went extraordinarily better than I thought it would. In great part thanks to Sukanaya and the amazing students at DPS East. You never cease to amaze me.

Here are some photos of the amazing kids I get to know! Hopefully they brighten your day as much as they brighten mine.

With love & gratitude,

Chrissy

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