Today is a very important and widely celebrated holiday: Teacher’s Day. On this day–at my school– the teachers dress up and the students perform everything from skits and songs to dance numbers for the teachers.
I decided that today would be the day that I try to tie my own sari. So, I watched some Youtube videos and went for it. For some reason, I had this idea that I needed to fold the fabric in half before I started. Of course, I ran out of fabric and ended up really confused. Luckily, Stacia and our maid Rashmi were there to help. I decided to take a taxi to school because I did not want to get all sweaty and gross on the bus or risk someone stepping on my garment. But even just sitting in the cab messed up my draping. I still thought nothing of it when I walked into school.
When I got to the staff room, I learned that my blouse was too big and my sari was not draped properly. You have to be meticulous when it comes to pleating and draping; and for the sleeves tighter is better. My in-school ‘sari coach’ fixed me up and advised that I bring my sari next time there is a school event so she can drape it properly. So much for doing it on my own. My teacher family is always there to lean on.
When the students want to talk to a teacher, or give something to them, they stand in front of the teacher’s lounge and wait for any teacher to walk in or out and say, “Ma’am can you please call so-and-so ma’am.” Today there were tons of students waiting outside the door requesting that their teachers come out so that they could give them everything from cards and pens to chocolates and cake. I got some cards, a flower and a couple of pens. It’s nice to be recognized even though I’ve only been teaching for one month.
In case you are wondering, I teach English, French, General Knowledge, Library, Environmental Studies, Dance and PT. Sometimes it can be a little bit difficult preparing for all the different classes, but the main priority of all of my classes is to improve my student’s spoken English (and give the students some exposure to French). Each class section (A,B and C) has about 50 students so I easily have over 450 students, but I interact with class 5 and 6 the most.
English and General Knowledge (Class 5 and 6): General Knowledge is exactly what it sounds like. It is a class that comprises facts from all subjects like, History, Science, etc. I use my General Knowledge class as an extension of my English Classes. I don’t have a syllabus or anything to follow so I get to teach whatever I want. Teaching class five and six is really fun because they have a lot of energy and are very enthusiastic. I have been teaching Yankee Doodle with a little bit of simple choreography to class 5 and they are having a blast with it. Each week I add a new verse. I make them sing it at the beginning of class to get out all their energy. At this point, I am still trying to to figure out the comprehension and writing levels of all of my students. Each section has such a wide range of levels and it is difficult to balance all of them and keep all 50 of the students engaged in the classroom.
Library (Class 6, 7 and 8): Library is the hardest class for me to teach. When girls near class 7 and 8, they start participating in class less and start chatting more. I am definitely the most strict in Library. I have been assigning the students article and book reviews but for some reason, many of the students are convinced that it is not compulsory. I am really trying to get the girls to think critically about the books and news articles that they read, but I can’t do that if they don’t do their reviews. I even started using chocolate as an incentive. We’ll see if it works.
Environmental Studies (Class 6 and 8): I just give the students activities to do that involve the environment. Right now they are examining the different environmental problems in their neighborhoods in Kolkata.
Dance (Class 8): I haven’t had dance class since the first day of school due to all the rehearsals for the last few performances and all the school holidays.
P.T. (Class 5 and 6): P.T. class is the same as P.E. in the United States. I was given the class so that I could do yoga but I have been hesitant to teach the classes fully since I am still getting used to my schedule. I did however teach the class 5B girls kickball the other day. I was worried about explaining the directions because there are a lot of moving parts to kickball but, the girls understood it quite well (It took a whole class period to make name tents). I really enjoy participating in P.T. with 5B on Fridays. At the end of the day on Friday you can usually find me running around the kids playing ‘fire on the mountain’ in a full salwar suit. I usually end up getting pretty sweaty but, the kids don’t mind so neither do I.
French (Class 11 and 12): French is an ECA class (Extra Curricular Activity) at my school. I teach in the mornings on Fridays before 1st period. I usually have around 2-4 students in my class and I teach in English.