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Diary Of A Teach For India Fellow : My Journey, So Far

By Pranav Sukhija
Fellow, Teach for India 

There is a lot to be angry about, and a lot that will get you inspired.

When you visit a low-income school in any part of India, there is a lot you will see that will make you really angry and a lot that will make you really, really inspired. You will feel angry when you see students studying in dire conditions, available resources not being put to their best use, real teaching never happening in the classrooms, and innocent dreams of children getting crushed each day. And these are the same sorts of things that will inspire you to put your foot down and say, “enough is enough, I have to take a stand. These children deserve a better education and I will provide it to them. ”

Well begun is half done

These were my thoughts as well when I joined the Teach for India fellowship programme 16 months ago. My passion to serve the children of the nation got me into FLAME, Pune where I met hundreds of young men and women, who were just as passionate about this cause. Some of these people had left their well-paying jobs to serve this cause, while others, like me, opted for the fellowship after their graduation. We were taught how to teach, and we practiced by teaching for a month in low-income schools in Pune. Each day and each night, we worked relentlessly hard to plan lessons and activities for our children, teaching them to do well in their end of unit assessments, and doing a showcase event of all that they learned over four weeks. The training programme of the fellowship was exhilarating.

The Shock, and what followed afterwards

After bidding farewell to my friends and colleagues from Pune and Mumbai, I came back to Delhi and started teaching in my placement school, an all-girls’ Municipal school. I became a teacher of class 3 and was given an English-medium class. I was in for a rough shock. Unlike my students in Pune, these children knew no English and for the first few days, I don’t think they understood anything about the things I was telling them. It took time, perseverance, relentless hard work, reflection, more learning, un-learning and a never-say-die spirit to reach a point where I concluded that all my children were following me. But that was not enough. I wanted them to communicate with me, not just orally, prove that they were learning and understanding, which took more time. With a little help of my friends, and the support of my managers in the organization, I finished off my first year of teaching successfully in March, earlier this year.

 
Since someone did it for me in my alma-mater, I have to do it for the children in my school

I knew from day one that the fellowship was going to be hard. Year one was a real struggle as I hadn’t taught before and teaching isn’t the easiest of jobs in the world. Year two posed its own major challenges because the organization requires its fellows to not only teach with the same rigor and enthusiasm as in first year, but simultaneously do a project in their schools which impact and benefit ALL children, and not just those in their classes. And so I began planning for my BTCP (Be The Change Project). I spoke to the teachers in my school about this and they gave me their ideas. I compared the facilities and experiences I received in my alma-mater with what this school had to offer its students. By this time, I had also formed my definition for an excellent education.

An excellent education is a combination of various favorable factors for a child, including academics, non-academics, values and mindsets, sports, social-consciousness and spirituality. All these factors plus a healthy and joyous environment at home and school, exposure to the world around to promote the learning and development of a child.

I finally planned my project and began working on it. It was difficult to convince all stakeholders but somehow I managed. My project is titled The Smart Student Project and is about offering different experiences and exposures to all children of my school, in the form of workshops, competitions, music and dance activities, sports, promotion of reading, playing indoor and outdoor games, and learning beyond the classroom. The overall objective is to make the schooling years of all the children joyous and fun, and I have already started to see a difference.


Thinking about the impact I am making

I am aware of the fact that my kids have learned and been exposed to tremendous amounts of new things ever since I started teaching them. They have bigger and more beautiful aspirations in life and I know for sure that many of them will attend college and work afterwards. This definitely puts them in a better position than their peers in school and community. By getting them to lead their own teams, work in pairs and groups, solve their problems themselves, speak in public, write well, listen to everyone, be respectful, feel great and confident about themselves, they are learning some of the most important values, mindsets and skills needed to be successful in life.




What’s in it for you?

The Teach for India fellowship is NOT meant for everyone. Out of every 100 applicants, only 7 get selected. We are looking for people who have the passion to serve, willingness to work hard in extremely challenging conditions, demonstrate strong values and mindsets, and want to see ALL children progressing. The fellowship is not a teaching programme; it’s a leadership programme as we believe teachers apply the same skills in their classrooms and schools as leaders do in firms. Besides, the fellows need to be adaptable, problem-solvers, reflective and positive. If you think you fit the bill, apply to be a fellow today.

To know more about Teach for India, please visit www.teachforindia.org.

If you are interested in helping us in any manner, please contact me at pranav.sukhija2011@teachforindia.org
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Pranav Sukhija
Pranav Sukhija is a Teach for India fellow, a prolific writer and an explorer of everything that the world offers. When not working, he spends most of his time thinking about his kids and school and strives hard to give them a high quality education. He is a people's person and gets along well with most people. He loves taking out time to connect with friends and acquaintances and derives energy and power from them. He'd be very happy to connect with you, too. Please write to him at pranav.sukhija2011@teachforindia.org.

 

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