If I think back on my decision to join Teach For India, I would say that it’s the wisest decision of my life. I think that I am at the right place at right time. I feel myself to be privileged to get an opportunity to feel such wonderful experience at a mere age of 24, working with such dedicated and highly professional group is a respect for me.
I feel a great change in my mindset, skills, personality etc. during past 5 months. Now I dare to think large and work on it to execute it. It feels amazing when you can see measurable growth for what you have been working 24*7 i.e. the kids with whom you are working. Now my life revolves between the 50 kids of my class, my all lows & highs are part of my class. I would like to describe the two scenes of my class now and then:
15 June 2009 : My first day in Class
I entered the class, a bit tensed, a bit excited, it was my first day in class. As the strength was low so, I shared my class with my fellow teacher Aniket, both of us were excited. It gave us a clear picture of what we are into. The kids were violent, abusing, fighting, playing here and there and not at all listening to us. So, the challenge was clear. The first thing that came to my mind was how to make them a better human being and make my class a group of civilized students. Academically they were years back of their grade level. For the first few days I tried to figure out the different groups in my class, like the violent kids, academically sound kids etc. then decided to focus on them. I tried to make a bond with them loved them, played with them tried to know them better, consulted about their background from different teachers and it helped. After a struggle of few weeks things were changing in the class.
Now, 31 October 2009
Today my kids consider me as a guide, as a elder brother, as a friend, as role model, as a mentor and I try to appear in front of them in the way they want me to. I am happy to switch my roles if they are comfortable with me in any of the roles at different times. My class, which I consider to be a class of gentlemen is a team of SUPERSTARS. They have changed drastically since June, now they remain quite and do their work even if I am not in class.
Keertana who has never spelled a word for months now tries to speak in English, she talks to me like a friend. Sandesh’s mother complains me about the fact that he writes diary at home for hours and has filled two copies writing dairy. Now he has the confidence to speak in front of anyone without hesitation. Saniya wants to come to school even if she is sick. Shahid who was considered to be mentally retarded by the school administration spells the longest word of English language before anyone in the class. There are many more such incidences. But the challenges are not over, we have to travel a long way. Imtiyaaz is still violent, Hitesh never opens the book at home, Sonali keeps smiling but never studies. So, challenges are still there but we will overcome all as the time passes.
I consider these small happiness’s as a landmark and enjoy them all. At times I get very upset and it becomes very difficult to bear the pressure and I am thankful to everyone around me for supporting me during these lows. It was not possible to come so far without the support of my principal, teachers at school, Aniket( other fellow from TFI in my school), Sapan (my Program Manager) & staff from TFI, other fellows at TFI, my friend who always support me from outside, my family and always being with me my 50 kids.
I have to go a long way with my kids and want to see each of my kid at the top. Sometimes I feel that I am not teaching them but they are teaching me different ways of life and I feel that it’s true in a sense because they have seen a lot more than me, the struggle that they face in their daily life has made them stronger than me. The way I used to think about different issues has changed a lot. When I go to a kids house and see the conditions in which he is living, I feel as if its not his fault if he is scoring less or is abusing or is violent and its true. After seeing all this I have to change my way of talking to kids, now I treat them differently, I apply differentiation even in the way I talk to my kids during 1 -1 conversation and it is helpful.
It’s a incredible journey till now and hope so coming days.