Of Small Steps & a Giant Leap

What if a teacher had access to all the resources that she needed? 

This is a question I often ask myself. In our course of work we often meet teachers with a passion for working with and improving students. They understand that different children have different needs and try to cater to them accordingly. Unfortunately, they are stymied by a lack of knowledge, resources and skills necessary to deal with the children’s myriad demands. What if they had some help?  

I had my answer a few days ago. Ms Yuvarani is one such zealous teacher, working at Sujana Convent in Bengaluru’s Hosa Road, a school I work with. She is ever ready to go beyond the call of duty to help her students but for long she couldn’t break through the barrier of her limited skills. She wanted to get all her students involved and keep them engaged in class but she didn’t know how. We did a co-planning exercise with her, where we gave her some tips on how she could liven up her classes. That was in December.

A few days later, I got a call. It was Ms Yuvarani asking me if I could go and observe her class while she taught. I walked into the class to chaos.

Ms Yuvarani
Ms Yuvarani in her class.

Students were sitting in pairs holding coloured paper, reading from the text written on it. A pair of students from one part of the class would suddenly spring up to read a sentence and even before they finished a different pair in another part of the class would jump up to read another line. As I struggled to make sense of it all, I suddenly realised I was witnessing something astonishing. With a simple strategy of breaking up a story into separate lines and putting it on colourful cardboard pieces, Ms Yuvarani had managed to get the entire class involved and the excitement in the room as those kids gleefully, haltingly pieced the story together was palpable.

Children reading
Children piecing together the lines of a story.

This way she could also pin down kids who needed additional help with reading. This was a quantum leap for a class that previously could barely read and saw minimal participation from students during lessons. I was in shock. Ms Yuvarani had taken the learning from our session and implemented it to rousing success. I complimented Ms Yuvarani on a splendid job. Her proud beaming smile spoke volumes.

Ms Yuvarani story
Ms Yuvarani gets the whole class to read a story.

Ms Yuvarani is a shining example of what a determined teacher can achieve if she has access to the strategies and techniques of classroom teaching. She now has the confidence to come up with innovative solutions to deal with the problems of her class. And that’s how, finally, I have the answer to my question. A little access, some resources and an open mind can do this – work minor miracles.

By Ankita Ghosh, School Transformation Lead at Mantra4Change

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