Lessons From the Classroom

Valencia Meredith - India


March 26, 2017

So while I’ve been in India, I’ve been working at a government school in Pune, India. And I have to say, it’s been quite an experience.

When I first entered my classroom I was scared out of my mind. My first thought was “What am I getting myself into”. I had no training nor did I know what to expect while in the classroom. I was walking into this completely blind.

I realized that’s the beautiful part about this experience. I had no idea what to expect or what to do. Each day has been a learning experience for me.

Some lessons have been very insightful and others have been aggravating.

This is what I’ve learned in the classroom:

 

Keep students busy.

In order to have some type of order in the class, I HAVE to keep the students busy with a hands on project. Majority of my students are artistically inclined, so I came up with “art sessions”. With these short sessions are focused and are actually silent at times (silence is a rare thing in class).

 

Creating relationships with students.

This can be a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve formed relationships with all of my students. I’m closer with some more than others. This is great because I am more motivated to work with students and the students are more comfortable with me. It’s nice to have conversations with students and just have a good time. BUT, students do not understand when it’s time to be friends and when it’s time for me to be their teacher. With them the lines are blurred. So, it can be very hard to discipline the students because they see me as their friend at the wrong time.

 

Visiting students homes.

I’m always excited when students invite me into their home. It’s like a sneak peak of their life outside of school. This way, I get to experience a snippet of their life first hand. Experiencing their reality for a short moment makes me feel closer to them and I like to think vice versa as well.

 

Yelling Does NOTHING

I’m not one to raise my voice, unless I’m very angry. I realized yelling does nothing, it just fuels the kids to behave wilder. Because they see me behaving this way, they think it’s ok for them to act similarly. And some just laugh when a teacher yells, so it’s pointless.

 

Hitting/ Threatening Students is NOT the Way

I’ve personally never done this, but this is a common technique found across all government schools in India. It should be noted that many of these kids face physical, verbal, or sexual abuse outside of school. School is suppose to be their escape from that, but sadly they are constantly surrounded by it. The kids are respectful to teachers that beat them, but that is simply out of fear. Respect shouldn’t be stemmed from fear.

 

What I Learned About Myself.

During my apprenticeship I’ve learned more than just about the dynamic of a classroom and how the mind of a child works. I’ve also learned a bit about myself.

I’ve learned that I work well with kids. Though I complain about them a lot, I get along with them quite well.

I can pick up on languages through interactions instead of learning from a book. I learned majority of my Hindi from the children. That surprised me.

Because of the language barrier, I have learned alternate means of teaching the children. I find myself being more expressive with my facial expressions and my body language. This helps tremendously with students who aren’t able to speak English.

I’ve also learned that I am quite lazy when it comes to completing task. When the time comes to finish a project, I find myself scrabbling to finish at the last minute. I procrastinate alot and I need to learn how to be more accountable for myself.

Now, I’m at the end of my apprenticeship yet I’m still learning something new everyday. When I enter the classroom it’s no longer “What am I getting myself into, but “What am I getting these kids into”.

Valencia Meredith