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Nov 12, 2018

Fellow Aarthi's experience empowering student leaders

Students in a Socio-emotional learning circle
Students in a Socio-emotional learning circle

Here is a narrative from our Chennai Fellow Aarthi on her Fellowship experiences.

"The Fellowship has been a very gratifying and challenging experience for me. My classroom and I have grown in the past four months in terms of academic excellence, relationship building and values, and I look forward to the remaining two terms with my children with utmost zest and hope. 

We’ve been having Olympiad classes in English and Math for the past two months after classes. The children engage in peer-learning (Students learning from each other leveraging each other’s skills and knowledge), with minimal teacher intervention.

We have an on-going project on Socio-Emotional Learning in collaboration with the Thrive Foundation, Chennai. The project aims to educate children about their emotions and equip them to channelize their emotions in a better way without getting agitated and reckless. The children have been responding well to the sessions and we’ve incorporated the learnings from these sessions into our classrooms as well.

We also worked on an International project, called “Go Ladli” for our non-TFI high school girls to empower them about women-centric issues and problem-solving. Five of our girls worked on women issues in their communities by collecting data, processing the data, coming up with solutions on their own and submitting the report. We’re excited to inform you that all of them have been selected to the National top 10. They have all finished their personal interviews with their mentors from the US and are awaiting final results.

This incredible journey hasn’t been without challenges of their own. One of the biggest challenges was the influx of 10 new children in my second year whose RC levels were below 0 and absolutely knew no English. It was difficult to orient them to the classroom with most children at an RC level above 2 and the medium of instruction was largely English. But we met this challenge as a class team by mapping every new child with another higher-RC order student of the class for peer-support after and during class.

I would like to share my most exciting day from this term.  I had a Learning Circle with my children on Transgenders. The objective was to sensitize my children on the basic human rights of transgenders. I showed them some videos highlighting the role of transgenders in our community in various workplaces and the discrimination they face on a day to day basis. Then we had a discussion as a whole group sharing our perspectives and experiences on the same. After a week my children came up with a brilliant skit on the life of transgenders. The script was original and it was thought-provoking and inspiring.  I was stunned witnessing the immense impact a small classroom discussion can have in the mindset building of children."

Nov 7, 2018

I used to be shy. My teachers made me confident.

My journey with Teach For India has transformed me like a flower grown bright, full of colours. This flower has been cared by someone and isn’t allowed to shrivel. I always had dreams to achieve but I didn’t know how to do so or where to start. I used to be under confident, I used to hate leadership and I didn’t even know who I really was. I used to be silent and didn’t like to talk. I only cared about my rank in class and didn’t really bother about how much knowledge I had. Then, my life turned around and headed towards a beautiful destination where I always wanted to see more. I never thought failure is a great thing and can be really helpful.

I entered a Teach For India classroom in the 3rd grade. I could not talk about my feelings or ask the curious questions I was full of. When my teacher Sarthak bhaiyya told me that I had to become a facilitator, I thought, why should I help people and what is in it for me? Initially, I hated the Teach For India teachers because they made us talk in English all the time and didn’t give us revision notes before exams. In 6th grade, however, a female teacher came to our class. At first I thought she would be like Shubham and Sarthak bhaiyya and would tell us to always talk in English. I was wrong.

I was always thinking about my marks and I didn’t stop to realise how confident I was becoming, how I was participating even in sports! Aishwarya Didi changed my mindset about myself and the world. I didn’t realise that the person I am around other people is an act I put on for the world and not the real and unique Naziya. I thought I was ugly, dark and could never be cool. Aishwarya Didi told me that I should be myself, do things for myself and not for the world. She taught me that the world will try to take away my uniqueness, so how could I be different if I tried to become whatever they asked me to? She, and my bhaiyyas made me feel like my opinions are important.

I started to feel like real beauty is not in your appearance but in your uniqueness, in your heart. They taught us to love.They taught us to love everyone and everything. As a teenager, I had so many questions in my mind that I was afraid to ask my didi and bhaiyyas. I started writing letters to my didi with all my questions. She would always reply. I found a new way of expressing my feelings using a pen and paper, with these letters to didi. Today, as a TFI kid I understand that asking questions is a part of learning, refusing to understand new things is not. I understood the real meaning of teachers, they are my second parents and my TFI teachers always gave me this comfort. They taught me all the subjects but more importantly they taught me the value of life. Everyday, they teach me to live life and relax, to keep going, to try new things and to learn to say no when I must. They taught me to respect the opinions of others and to be the change I want to see in the world. They taught me to build the future I want for myself from today.

In 8th grade, my new didi, Raeesa didi taught me that I might be trying something for the first time and it might be difficult, but I should try it anyway. She taught me to never give up. Trishima didi taught me to always be fresh and be on time. She taught me to not limit my thinking.

I have learned so much from all of them. A thank you is too small for everything they have done for me. I hope every student in the world is lucky to have a teacher who blows your mind, and not just when it comes to studying, but about life. They help us improve everyday and every moment of our life. They believe the best doesn’t have an end. They tell us what to do, but they don’t tell us how. This push us to think and help us grow.


Grade- 8th

Madina Mission School

Sep 4, 2018

Fellow Sabarish's value-driven Classroom Culture!

All the Fellows of Teach For India, evolve through their leadership journey with the students.  They strongly believe in the potential every child to attain an excellent education and deliberately work with a vision and a set of values which is required by the context of the classroom, school and community.

Here is a narrative from our Chennai Fellow Sabarish in the second year of the journey with his students.

Elaborate your Fellowship journey in the past 3 months (April-June)? What are some of the highlights?

During my Fellowship journey, I have realized that violence is a major issue in the community. The children are at the adolescent age and see their seniors as role models and start behaving like them.  Over the past 3 months, I have fundraised INR 1,80,000 for my classroom and renovated the classrooms completely. We have also conducted theatre workshop for the students.  Two of my classrooms where I teach, have the different set of interested students, and their key aspiration varies.

7A - Campaigners. Motto: ‘What we don’t know, we learn; what we learn, we express.’

Classroom space was created aligned with the motto. Respect, Curiosity, Creativity and Hard Work are the core values of the classroom. Going for community visits helped me understand the context. I feel the values are key which will result in the students who graduate to work effectively to improve the community.

7B - Wonder Superheroes. Motto: ‘With great power; comes great responsibility’

The nature of the classroom is creative. They have the ownership as a core value which motivates the students to take care of their own learning every day.

We also conducted a one day workshop with Theatre Nisha which helped the students. The class of Campaigners also interacted with Captain Varun from army through the video call. The children learned a lot of things related to their passion because of the opportunity.

What are some of the challenges you faced on your journey? How did you overcome them?

One of the potential challenges in the community is that as most of the parents earn daily wages, they are unable to spend quality time with their children even though they are highly invested. I’m planning to call the parents after the classroom space is set. Also, I’m planning to leverage Nam Kural as a platform to empower the parents. This will help us build the support system, to create a collective space for learning.

What are the achievements of your students in the past 3 months (April-June)?

  • 2 of the students one from Class 8A and another from Class 10 got selected to Wings to Fly and visited NASA from the school
  • Values & Mindsets improved for all the students. Half of the children were able to accomplish their goals on following values
  • A project on the interaction between the students and professionals from different walks of life was implemented with the vision of providing exposure to the students.
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