Saturday, February 23, 2013
Hello everyone! I apologize for not keeping up to date with this blog but my macbook broke a couple days after I got here in India. I have finally found a trustworthy place to get it fixed so I should be able to get it working again within the next couple of days. To catch everyone up, my daily job is to teach english, as well as help with math with a selected number of students. I work with kids from Standard 1-4 (1st grade through 4th grade) I have about 4 students in each standard. The school runs on an 8 period a day schedule, and my schedule entails me pulling out the students from certain standards each period working on either English, Spoken English, or Math. A teacher for one class can have up to 40 or so students, which makes learning in the classroom almost impossible. The teachers have no way of giving students any one on one interaction so if a child doesn't understand a concept they are merely left in the dust. The teachers are given curriculum to teach the students by the local government but all that happens is the teachers write the lessons on the chalk board, the students copy it down, and then the EXACT same questions are given on the state exams. So the kids just memorize the answers for the exams learning nothing. That's where the volunteers come in. We pull the students out of class and give them anywhere from 1 on 1 to 1 on 4 teaching. The irony of it all is a teacher will ask me to teach the students a lesson on let's say....adjectives and adverbs in grammar, the kids can hardly read, (if they can read at all) and we are supposed to have them comprehend what an adverb is? So most of the time I have to go back to the basics, teaching them to read through children's books, simplified lessons, and games. The real challenge is holding on to their attention. Many kids have serious concentration and attention problems so learning in classrooms of up to 40 or 50 kids is nearly impossible. These kids are all very talented and bright, its just that they have never been given the tools to acquire real scholarly knowledge. But just in my first short two weeks here I have seen tremendous steps forward in some of the kids. I have a boy in 3rd grade, named Abhil, who cannot read at all, so GVI has given me a list of words to teach him. We go over 5 simple words a week for him to learn. (ex: me, my, make, look) He is very keen to music, so I have started drumming to each letter of a word with him, which has really helped him remember words. I also have a girl in 4th grade named, Drishya, who experienced a severely traumatizing event when she was younger and developing. This has lead her to develop an almost autistic personality. Her parents cannot afford to send her to the school she needs, and because she is not actually diagnosed with any handicap like autism she cannot go to the government funded schools she needs to be in. So poor Drishya sits in class all day hardly understanding anything the teacher is trying to tell the children, and she gets made fun of by the other kids because she is different. I only teach her 1 on 1 so she will focus, and so that I can help her build a higher self esteem and confidence which seems to be bashed daily in her classroom. But the thing about Drishya is that she is actually very smart, when I am able to sit her down without any distractions she reads very well, and comprehends most of her work. Her mental problem causes her to struggle pronouncing words correctly but her reading, comprehension, and memory say a lot. My most proud moment here would have to do with a young boy in 1st grade named Adithan. I have never met a kid with so hyperactive. He is the sweetest kid, and hands down one of my favorites, but it seems to be impossible to get him to sit down, let alone stay still for more than a couple of minutes. He is very smart, and academically he is a lot farther than most of the older kids that I teach, but his attention and hyperactive problems make it really tough for him to be in a learning environment. Last Friday the school got back the state English exams for 1st and 2nd grade. Out of at least 250 students or so, only around 20 kids made A's on their English exams. Adithan was one of them, in morning assembly he got to stand up in front of the entire school with the other 20 or so students and was given an award. Seeing that little guy up there was my proudest moment since I've been here. Again my laptop is broken and the internet cafes here are poor at best, but I do apologize for not keeping this blog updated, and with my laptop getting fixed in the next couple of days I will be able to update it much much more often.