Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Timeline Of My Teaching Practice:

I would like to focus specifically on three areas while describing the change in the context of my teaching practice over the one and a half years of my rather short teaching career. The three areas are: Classroom management skills, Content knowledge and Teaching methodology.

My class room management skills were extremely poor and classes very noisy and chaotic in the whole of the first year after I joined Aditi. This was for the simple reasons that I didn’t understand the teaching job, nor did I understand what the teacher-student equation should be like. Moreover I was handling a bunch of high school and plus two students who ‘looked’ more or less my age and I often felt intimidated by them. also, I was almost always pre-occupied with the effective execution/delivery of lessons and content, as I regarded that as my most important priority. By the time I realized the importance of maintaining a certain level of discipline in class, half the academic year had already gone by and I realized that it was too late and therefore more difficult for me to change things. However I decided right then that I would not make the same mistake in my second year. Today I find that my classroom management skills have improved considerably, although there is still a lot of room for improvement.

With respect to my content knowledge in the first year……… soon after my very first class I realized how hollow and superficial my knowledge was of a subject I had studied for 7 years!! I could easily answer the ‘WHAT’ kind of questions, but found myself completely lost when I had to answer questions that had the words ‘WHY’ and ‘HOW' in them. I found myself not able to teach the students to apply the subject to practical real life situations, which I consider as the biggest let down of my first year. However, soon after the first class I knew that I had to relearn the subject to be able to pass on the same to my students, which I did. In the first year, my entire focus was on getting the ‘content’ in place. Today I feel that I understand the subject much better, can explain it to the students with more examples, help them apply the subject………… however what I have learnt is only a drop in the ocean and I have years and years and years of reading and learning in store for me!

With regard to my teaching methodology, since I have already mentioned that the focus was completely on getting the content in place, I could not make the subject 'fun' to the students; there was a lack of interesting activities and challenging projects in the first year. This has certainly got to change in the second year and I do have a lot of plans to make the subjectfun to the students in a manner that facilitates application and incorporation of the subject into their own lives!! lets see how it goes……….

Thursday, August 04, 2005

My Most Beautiful 'Reality Check'

When i was small, i didn't have any ambition in life. I never imagined myself to be a working women when I grew up. Being the youngest of four siblings, I lived in an insular world, without a care since my parents took care of all my requirements and made all decisions for me. I didn't know the meaning of responsibility.

So when I started teaching in Aditi, it was more a matter of chance than choice. I had no clue what i was in for. I was still a child, a student in the mind.......... not prepared to take responsibility for the futures of students i was going to teach. To me it was just a job for which i was going to get paid on a monthly basis…..what I didn’t know was that I was soon going to learn some of the most important lessons of life………responsibility being one of them.

My first two months in Aditi were a nightmare and the toughest period of my life ever. There were times when I was not prepared for a class; and there were times when I would walk into a class thinking I was prepared and find myself without any answers to the questions asked by students. I was completely lost and almost came to the conclusion that I could never be a teacher. I wanted to quit. But the thought of what it would do to my self-esteem was a feeling beyond my ability to articulate. I had no choice but to continue working in the school and in the process learn to be a good teacher. I have learnt my share of lessons working in Aditi as a teacher, some of them the most precious, valuable, cherished.

* I realized that in the first two months, I hadn’t done much in class, in terms of coverage of syllabus. Much time had been wasted. I had to ensure that I completed the syllabus and had sufficient time for revision before the school closed for December vacation. I started taking extra classes and stayed back in school very often.
* I also realized that I didn’t teach the students any referencing skills. The students couldn’t have relied on their textbooks simply because of the poor quality of information. So I decided to make complete notes for them, and by the end of the year had printed a book, that had information collated from several subject-related books.
* Well, handling a bunch of Std. XII students was perhaps a daunting task for someone who was straight out of collage and looked more like one of the students. My classroom management skills were very poor and the classes were extremely noisy. Students would come to me after class with doubts pertaining to the lessons already executed in class. More learning was happening in the library and the corridors than in the classroom. However by the time I realized the importance of classroom management, it was a little too late and things were difficult to change. I felt that the students were not to blame if I as a teacher had failed to maintain a certain level of discipline in class. So I decided that before the public examination I would revise the entire syllabus on a one-on-one basis with every student. I found myself teaching students in Bangalore Club, in their house, in my house and so on.

One of the most beautiful days of my life was when the students called me to share the news of their outstanding results in the public examination. I still have some of the ‘thank you’ messages they sent to me on my cell phone.
I know that I had failed as a teacher in many departments, but I had taken the responsibility of holding their hands and seeing them through the examination with all my sincerity.

Today I still find myself learning and trying to be a more responsible teacher and I know that I have a long way to go…….