My students have helped me become a ‘good’ teacher
It was my first day on the job. I always wanted to be a teacher and here I was, appointed as one in a government school. I felt extremely happy to be in a position where I had an opportunity to transform the lives of rural children. What I didn’t know, was that my childhood imagination would be so different from the reality of this government school.
The faded blackboard, peeled paint, missing chairs, broken windows - the infrastructure was crumbling. But what affected me the most was lack of enthusiasm among the children and teachers towards education. I felt these children, no matter what background they come from, deserve better. At any school, I believe, children are entitled to a positive learning environment. I took it upon myself to be the change maker.
I looked for activities which were cost-effective and could help in improving the interest level of children in primary grades. Colorful teaching-learning materials and innovative methods such as making finger puppets in class, to learn the family tree, helped a lot.
I looked for activities which were cost-effective and could help in improving the interest level of children in primary grades. Colorful teaching-learning materials and innovative methods such as making finger puppets in class, to learn the family tree, helped a lot. I, at times, made presentations to explain a few concepts such as germination of a seed and showed them on my laptop. I saw that such activities helped children memorize the concepts.
Gradually, children started taking interest in classroom activities and their overall performance at the academic front improved. In 2015, our school was changed from Hindi to English-medium. It was even selected as an ‘excellent school’ in the whole of Meerut.
Although we were happy as teachers, we knew that now we needed to work harder to make this transition easier for children.
Firstly, we decided to organize a Parent-Teacher-Meeting (PTM) to involve parents. All of us went door-to-door to invite parents to participate in the PTM. Interestingly, most parents came with their children and they were proud to hear that their children now study in an English-medium school.
Then, we desperately looked for some more classroom innovations to engage children. During this time, Sampark Foundation came to our district in Meerut to conduct teacher training. During a two-day training program, they told us many innovative and fun-filled ways to teach English to children studying in primary schools. The methods were scientific, and I felt it could help us a great deal. A few days later, we received their English kit which had all the interesting TLMs (teaching-learning-material) we used during the training, especially the voice box, which they call Sampark Didi. I took some days to understand the use of all their TLMs and soon I started using the material to teach in class.
I absolutely love the step by step, interactive ways of learning where Sampark Didi often says- ‘ab hum ye karenge’ (now we will do this), ‘ab hum isko dohrayenge’ (now we will repeat this). Whenever the voice box comes out, the excitement among children is palpable. They do look forward to English lessons, wondering which story will Sampark Didi recite that day!
It inspired me to come up with more inexpensive and creative ways to make learning fun. Recently, to teach ‘fruit names’ in English, I used color paper to made fruit costumes for myself and the children. I involved children from the beginning itself—we made costumes together, wore them and did an activity where we had to introduce the fruit and its health benefits based on the costume we wore. It helped all my children memorize the English names of all the fruits. The other day I met the father of a child, he was excited that his child now knows all the fruits and their English names.
To motivate them to use English in their everyday life, we do engage them in different activities, for example, they recite the morning prayer in English. Then we started taking them out on field visits. We went to a printing press on our first field visit. This has decreased absenteeism as children look forward to a fun day outside of a classroom.
It encourages me to keep looking for new ideas. To motivate them to use English in their everyday life, we do engage them in different activities, for example, they recite the morning prayer in English. Then we started taking them out on field visits. We went to a printing press on our first field visit. This has decreased absenteeism as children look forward to a fun day outside of a classroom.
Recently, on Republic Day, our grade-5 students wrote the preamble and read it out to the whole school. This exercise taught children a very important fact - that our constitution does not discriminate between religions. I feel, such activities instil a feeling of inclusiveness in the children, which was missing earlier.
While encouraging children to speak in English, making videos of classroom transactions, learning with Sampark Didi, my confidence, pronunciation and presentation skills improved unintentionally. Teaching young bright children has taught me so much. I feel whatever I have achieved so far as a teacher, including a State Award given by the Chief Minister, it is all because of the children who inspire me every day.
And I remember this famous quote by saying by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, ‘A good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others.’
(The writer is a teacher at Primary English Medium School, Kamaalpur, Block Rajpura, Meerut. Views expressed are personal.)