It’s been close to two months that I’ve been with TFI. 1 week of induction, 4 weeks of summer school and 2 weeks of Placement school. There’s quite a lot that’s been weaving around here. I initially had planned to document most that’s been happening right from the first day but failed miserably. The ‘induction’ wave just swept me off the coast and kept me in the waters for close to a month. The rigorous schedule during the institute and other things took priority and I just couldn’t fit in time to sit back and write what’s been brewing out here. Things slowly seem to have fallen in place now and I’ve decided to be a bit more regular on my site.
For the next two years I would be a class teacher for about 45 second grade kids at the Epiphany school at Guruwarpet, Pune primarily focusing on their English and Math. Going by my preliminary analysis – None of my kids can speak even a basic English sentence properly, Most write in incorrigible handwriting, 2 have been passed on to the second grade despite failing in the first, Just 8 of them understand my English class instructions, Only 4 can differentiate a question from an answer, Average reading fluency stands at about 15wpm [Expected – 40wpm], 3 always retort in Hindi/Marathi when asked a question, Only 6 can add single digit numbers having carryover, 5 cannot even decipher numbers written on the board, 4 just do not want to attend school and 1 girl has this superfluous crush on me! A diagnostic test due later this week would actually bring about how many grade levels my kids are actually lagging behind.
Couple of months back when similar statistics was put up in a presentation, I just couldn’t buy it. But today when I look at it manifesting in my own classroom, I’m sheerly overwhelmed. Each of my actions in the next two years would in ways impact how these kids perceive things and how their lives transform. In the next two years, one of our main objectives would be to plan and execute each of our lessons such that each one of these kids gets on par with their peers and stand to compete with other ‘advantaged’ kids from the private schools. Things are getting interesting by the day!
Looking back, joining TFI is probably the best ever decision I’ve taken till date. The commitment and zeal with which people work here, truly amazes me. It just doesn’t feel like working in a non-profit organization. The meticulous planning, professional conduct, transparent execution, the numerous sessions, reflection and de-briefs that keep everyone on their toes day through night simply floors me.
One month in the institute starkly redefined what working hard/smart meant. My regular day used to start at about five in the morning with a half an hour run around the I2IT campus and then a dash for the morning breakfast. At about 06:45am buses would transport the 100 odd first institute fellows from the I2IT campus to the summer schools at Somwarpet. At about 12:00pm once the summer school gets over we’d be taken back to the I2IT campus for various institute sessions and debriefs till 20:00hrs. Rest of the day is spent on lesson planning for next days classes or other activities that may go on till 21:00 or 22:00hrs. At the end of the day, you’re literally exhausted. There used to be so much to learn and do, at times I just did not understand what was happening around me. There were times when I’d question the very logic of lesson planning and the innumerable sessions. But over time as we saw the progress made by the kids, things slowly sank in. The only source of motivation is the amazing staff and fellows we have here [and not to mention the kids]! At times, even at about 12:00 at night you’d see these folks planning out sessions or logistics for us the next day. They’re just SO much dedicated towards this movement that at times it all looks to be a dream…
Summer School – Class 3D
Summer schools was probably the best that could have been planned for us. For kids this was a summer camp and for us quite learning experience. All through the four weeks, Staff, Program managers and Fellow advisors would constantly watch us while we deliver the lessons to the kids and provide critical feedback. About four fellows handle a class each taking about one or two sessions everyday. Pre and post Diagnostics help chalk the progress made by the kids during the summer Schools. At the end of the four week camp, the kids are better prepared to get back to their schools and so are the fresh fellows to enter their Placement schools where they would be fulltime teachers for the next two years.
At TFI, one centric belief is that we as a movement can bring about a transformation/change in the society only if there’s a transformation in each one of us as a person. I wasn’t really appreciative of this till late. I just couldn’t find the ‘aha’ moments in my summer school while most around me seemed to be really enjoying their journey as a first time teacher. Later over time I realized, I could/would never look at the minor accomplishments that my kids had. I never took stock of the small things that happened every day in the class always concentrating on the bigger picture. Only after making a conscious effort to let loose, I really seemed to be involved and connected with the kids. Teaching only got interesting after that! Ever since, I make it a conscious attempt to see what each kid has to offer every single day and appreciate him/her irrespective of the scale of the progress and make note of it. Things have definitely changed. Now I think more than I used to think before and plan more than I used to plan before. My kids progress seem to have taken a higher seat than anything else and I’m more than happy to do anything that would help them inch that extra step forward.
Tomorrow by this time, fifty more fellows [The second batch of fellow/Tenners for this year] would be entering their own classrooms where they would teach and train for the next four weeks. They would co-incidentally be teaching in my placement school [Epiphany]. Time seems to have simply flown by! I remember myself in that position just about a month back…
Between, over to my other passion of trekking; I managed to do the Katraj-Sinhagad moonlight trek twice again over consecutive weekends. This was during the institute and I still am surprised how I managed to pull it through. Last week I headed out to Kenjalgad with the DH team. Turned out to be quite an experience to start off with. I’m not really sure how much justice i’ll be able to do to this aspect going forward…only time will tell…