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How Important is Planning and Time Management?

It has been a month now since I have joined the Fellowship-cum-Leadership journey to contribute a bit to the collective vision of Teach For India, “One day all children will attain an excellent education”.  So, ‘what does it really take to teach?’ was the question that I kept asking myself and I found an answer: that it is not just energy, but detailed planning that plays a very important role in teaching.

I finally get to click a picture of my class, the enthusiastic 6th graders. I call them the drama queens. This is the happiest place to be in a day where there is love, respect, joy, sharing and caring. I realize I had never put in so much of time and effort in planning ever in my life as the way I am planning for these kids now for their overall development.

The Drama Queens

The Drama Queens

A lot of good things happened in past a month. Prayogshala is the one which is climbing the charts. Prayogshala-Science as way of life, is seeking to build scientific temperament among students by focusing on skills such as experimenting, observing, inferencing and problem-solving. The kids are totally into it; they are learning, doing experiments and having fun.

Imagine the 6th grade kids learning about electricity, series and parallel circuits, I thought it would be difficult for them to understand but they proved me wrong when they were able to glow the bulb, the LED’s and turn on the fans through the experiments which they did themselves under the guidance of the Prayogshala team.

It is so important to have the basics of class discipline and culture in place when you plan to teach them. If not, the kids really test your patience and they do not let you teach. Effective and consistent use of trackers, rewards, consequences and small teams really helps to develop these basics. A shout out to my co-fellow for helping me out with the same. We do not say that our class is perfect but yes, they have improved quite a lot.

We believe that together we can make it happen. We planned for an initiative, I Teach! in the class where 6 girls performing well throughout the week is given the responsibility to help others and clear their doubts for any topic, classwork and homework. The I Teach badges given to them keeps changing every week so that everyone gets a chance to take this responsibility and ownership.

In the secondary classrooms, we do subject teaching and so I am an English teacher for Grade 6, 7 and 8. English as a subject includes Reading Comprehension, Reading Fluency, Writing, Grammar, Speaking and Listening.

The question is how do you integrate all of these in your lessons so that the kids get exposed to all of these?Detailed planning keeping in mind, “time as the biggest constraint” is the answer.

I have now started planning for a week in advance, breaking it up in days and in hours. It has really helped me to prioritize and execute well. You are motivated to keep doing it consistently when after a good execution, the kids tell you, “Didi! apke class mein bohot maza aata hai!” and when the most quiet girl in your classroom starts participating in the class.

I try to ensure that I utilize the time in the classroom in the best possible ways. A problem which I had faced during first week is the less teaching time right after the assembly. There was kiosk in the class and kids took more than 10 minutes to settle down and I hardly used to get 20 minutes to deliver the lessons.

It’s not the same now, I have set a target for them to learn 1000 words and write sentences using them. Every time, now they enter the classroom after the assembly, they have the words on the board or worksheets on their seats. They now know what needs to be done. A win-win for both the kids and me wherein I get a productive 35 to 40 minutes of teaching and kids get to learn.

Kids after the assembly.

Kids after the assembly.

Here are a few more pictures from the classrooms.

Hardships are many but personal satisfaction, smiles on the kid’s faces and huge support from co-fellow, school team, school families, fellow adviser and program manager makes it possible.

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