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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Learning and Laughing

The Monsoon season appears to be coming to an end as the days are becoming drier, but the heat is still bearing down on Agartala. I've found that the combination of the heat with the the bumpy bus rides over the muddy roads to and from school creates a sleepy concoction that seems to knock me out most days before I stumble off the bus again. Luckily the highly caffeinated tea at school gives me the edge I need to deal with my third graders screams all the way up to my twelfth graders pleas to go outside instead of learning about the fascinating law of diminishing marginal returns. Whether its battling for my students attention or playing a game of hangman, even on the most challenging days I still have little to complain about.

Discipline is always an issue when teaching and I'm sure some of the most senior teachers back home would agree with me. Some days the students seem to be behaving perfectly while many of days it seems that they would rather watch paint dry than listen to me. Factors at home and just the reality that kids will be kids plays a role in these behavior problems, but I've also realized that a lot comes back to me, the teacher. When I've been poorly prepared for class or have created a lackluster lesson plan not only am I failing to help my students learn, but I'm also setting the mood for playground of chatting, throwing of papers, and anything but schoolwork. So the epiphany was happened, if one class seems to me extra wild and crazy, its not time to try to change them through yelling, but instead time change teaching approach. Instead of the boring routine of reading from the book, continually mixing in different activities or projects seems to help. Even writing simple notes or creative exercises on the blackboards seems to draw my students attention a lot better than verbal lecturing, which usually results in a disaster. So day by day more is still being learned and I'm sure that just as I think I've figured it out I'll probably be back in America or maybe 80 years-old. Who knows.

Last week our school celebrated Teachers' Day, which was one of the best things I've experienced here in India. The students had prepared for weeks and decorated the entire school, and also got all the teachers some small gifts. They put on a dancing, singing, and drama skips that filled up 2 1/2 hours of entertainment. Some of the creative skips involved joking about who the teachers act and talk so we all got to enjoy with plenty of laughs. The tribal students of Northeast India are extremely talented when it comes to every style of dancing and singing, which makes me jealous since my abilities are nonexistent. It was wonderful seeing all the students and teachers come together for a fun day, and gave us all the chance to get away from pressures of the classroom. Below is a picture of the 7th grade students celebrating with one of my favorite teachers, Sister Lucy.

Being at school everyday makes me think about all the time I spent in school as a child and all the way up to just about a year ago. I was fortunate to go to great schools my entire life, and I am so happy and proud that one of them is helping with fundraising for the Boys' Town orphanage here in India. So I would like to give a big thanks to Principal Sean Richardson, Mrs. Darlene McKay, and all the teachers and students at St. John's School in Canton, MA for giving of their time and efforts to help a great cause. This week they will be raising funds for Boys' Town so they certainly be in everyone's thoughts and prayers here in India. It means so much to all us here to have the support of those back home! We're hoping to surpass our fundraising goal by December 1st so it you are interested in helping like those at St. John's School please go to

Above is a picture of Suresh from Boys' Town agonizing over a defeat in cards at a recent picnic we had for India Independence Day!

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