A teacher affects eternity; (s)he can never tell where (her) his influence stops.”
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
Why contribute to Teachers Training?
There are 210 million reasons, each being a child in India who goes to school and spends 6 hours a day for 210 days a year with an adult called “a teacher”. But here are just two more:
So contribute to ONE teacher’s training and touch the lives of a thousand children!
To find out how to make a contribution, Click here…
The question of “slow-learners”- and how I learn slowly!
Gomti (name changed) looked like a perfectly normal 4th-standard child to me. As I sat on the floor next to her in a group activity in a summer camp that TTF was conducting in an affordable (low-end) private school on Bangalore, I found no reason to believe that she could be challenged. But just a few minutes earlier, I had been talking with her teachers and had heard a different story.
It started with a discussion with the teachers and headmistress of the school a few minutes earlier. We had been working with these teachers for the last eight months as part of our 3-year “Turning Schools Around” project, supported by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The teachers were finalizing score sheets for the kids after their final exams and were talking to me about how much they had liked and learned from the TTF initiative. It was then that I asked them where the training was not helping them enough, and one teacher said “Well, I have this student who seems to know the subject but in a written test, she writes pure gibberish! I wish the training would help me with how to handle that!” A couple of other teachers chimed in saying they had the same problem.
My curiosity was piqued, and I asked them if I could see the child’s answer paper. She found the paper and gave it to me. I was aghast! There were parts which Gomti had written perfectly clearly, parts that she had copied from the board – but the rest that she had written on her own was a mass of jumbled up letters, with some repeated sequences. The teacher said she did that for all her answer papers. The other teachers also showed me a few papers of other children who had the same problem as Gomti’s.
I asked the teachers what they normally did in such cases. They shrugged their shoulders and said “We call the child’s parents and tell them to spend more time with the child. Usually the mother often domestic workers, would come and listen to us.”“And then?” I asked.
“And then she might send the child to a tutor, who will try to do at best exactly what we are doing, which isn’t much!”
Later, as I showed Gomti’s paper to a few experts at TTF, I realized that she is probably dyslexic.She could express herself orally like a normal girl, but was completely challenged when it came to writing. Which means she needed help from someone to get her to build on her oral and motor skills. Instead, what was likely to happen was that she would be tested repeatedly in written tests…and fail. And feel “written-off”, literally, for the rest of her life.
The good news, I felt, was that her teachers CARED. And they were reflecting on what they could do about Gomti’s challenge. I like to believe this reflective attitude was because they had been training with us for the last 8 months, though I could not say for sure. But they still needed the skills and the process to identify children who were challenged and decide how to help them.
Another area where there is so much to do to enable and inspire every teacher!
Summer camps, joy and creativity!
I always felt that children would baulk at the thought of going to school summer camps. While that’s probably true, we certainly saw kids having a ton of fun at camps we held in 5 affordable private schools in Bangalore. And the same was true for the kids at the Yelleri Govt. school, where TTF is conducting a Whole School Transformation project with the support of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust.
While there was lots of learning for the kids, this time, the method was different! Group activities, dance, games, working with all kinds of materials with their little hands - it was a whole new experience! They learnt a lot and they had fun! That’s what school should be all about!