Have you ever wondered why our classrooms back in school would be filled with boredom? The teacher would always be the grumpy, fearful one? I never really gave it a conscious thought before I started working as a fellow with Kshamtalaya Foundation, intervening in a Government School in Kotra, a scenic and experiential beauty of a place, otherwise projected to the outside world as the “kaala paani”.
Let alone lacking with teachers, infrastructure etc. I myself did not feel like i was in a school on the first day. The apparent “Gurus” sitting and “warming” the chairs, students with torn uniforms and visibly neglected, blackboards filled with what might seem Latin to the children and so on. I was to work here for the next two years. I had to do something about it. Not for myself, but for the children who are the primary reason why the school is there in the first place.
The first few days were spent in building that comfortable relationship with the students first and then the teachers. Initially when I would tell the students of grades 3, 4 & 5 — “Let’s Play”, they would be taken aback, not knowing how to react, firstly because of the assumed “language barrier” as the students understand very little of Hindi and secondly because they were seeing a teacher asking them to come out and play with him. Days went by and “Sir, Humko bhi Khilao” would be the words i would hear every time i walked in and out of the school. The class seemed to have reached a level of comfort with me within a few days, which was visible as every time another teacher walked in to my class, there would be such a drastic change in the atmosphere. Books out, backs straight, frowns on faces;
Now this can also be an issue if you believed in not teaching in a chaotic environment. The children wouldn’t listen to me when I was trying to teach them as they now knew that I wasn’t the stereotypical “daantnewala, maarnewala khadoos mastersaab”. As any other teacher would, I would feel frustrated within but I would not vent it out on the Children who were just being themselves. This was a regular behaviour where the class was chaotic and I wasn’t able to handle the class. I sought help from the teachers at school, who as expected said “do teen laga do sir. Teekh ho jayenge”. I spoke to other fellows who gave me suggestions for effective class management. I tried them but to no avail. After a while I just stopped trying to do anything about it.
Now, at this point, the class is in order when required. And this did not take any sort of rule setting, no form of external help, Nothing. I just let the class be and it did turn out to be the way I wanted it to be. This was magical and I will try and adapt this learning as far as I can in all possible areas.
But reasons I felt this could happen were the inclusion of more of activity based learning, integration of play in learning. Keeping the child occupied with what he/she likes doing was a win-win situation.
For this to happen again, I feel, is the requirement of a well prepared Lesson Plan. And a Lesson Plan again can vary and differ from person to person, depending on the kind of relationship between the teacher and the students. It should cater to the interests of the child and at the same time help you achieve the lesson’s objective. Again creating a win-win situation.
Every Individual is different. So are the Children in a class. One child might understand a concept in 10 minutes and a few children might in 10 days. Lesson Plans would serve as documents to be revisited upon to help the children who were falling behind in the understanding of these concepts, can help identify why a part of the class could not understand and another could not, and in accordance help you mould your plan to cater to each child in the class.
I have also been thinking on the grounds of why a classroom set up is boring for the child and how that space can be re-created to make it more interesting, in short creating a “learning space”.
Will get back to you all on that very soon. Till then “Happy Reading | Happy Teaching”.