Guest post by Priyadarshini, who has just started teaching at Siragugal
When asked to take my first class at Siragugal, I was quite nervous. I had never really taught before and the thought of facing a group of children, coupled with the fact that I hadn’t had much time to prepare was a bit daunting.
But walking into the library and looking at the sea of eager faces, something changed. And prepared or not, I ventured forth. We started with numbers – age, time, dates and so on. And I was surprised at the things they knew and didn’t. Most of them could rattle off their phone numbers by heart but were unaware of what an address was. They could tell the time perfectly (some of them on their digital watches) but dates were a problem. They faltered over dates like Independence Day and Children’s Day which I had assumed were an integral part of school life. Although, this being a Christian school, all of them knew Christmas perfectly.
The class has been a learning experience on both sides. My communication style is a bit vague, which doesn’t work very well in the classroom. I learnt to focus on a single concept and emphasize it repeatedly. Games are good in this regard, but too many of them makes the children excited and difficult to settle down.
I noticed that girls tend to stay quiet and in the background, not answering unless directly asked a question. Even during a game where the boys were falling over themselves to take part, the girls were reluctant to come forward when asked to. What was distressing was that when we split them into groups, most of the time girls tended to be excluded from the discussion. This is something that I am thinking about and wondering how to change.
Ooty has been having such miserable weather now and it is good to see the children turning up day after day in spite of the rain and the cold. It’s not always the same children everyday– some days there are children who ‘replace’ someone who doesn’t come. It may be the pull of the games in the library rather than the classes themselves, but something makes them come everyday. And that that reaffirms my faith in what we are doing here.