“It’s been four weeks since the fellowship kicked off and it seems like two years. It’s been the hardest I have worked in years and definitely the toughest job I have ever had.
The day starts at 6:30 with the Fellows boarding the bus for Summer School and ends at midnight with all of us planning our lessons for the next day.
Yesterday we completed our three week of teachings. My class has 14 students. The ‘differentiation’ ranges from kids being able to read fluently to those that do not know the English alphabet-from those who can multiply by up to 3 digits to those who cannot count up to 20. Every moment of every class that I have taken, I have had all my leadership competencies and communication skills challenged like never before. Needless to say, all the kids come from low-income backgrounds.
One Fellow’s conversation with a kid went something like this
Fellow – “Why did you come late for school?”
Kid – “Bhaiya, the auto had a puncture and we had to stop to get the puncture repaired”
Fellow – “You should have been put in another auto. Tomorrow I am going to scold your autowalla”
Kid – “Bhaiya, the autowalla is my father”
In these two weeks I have heard stories and witnessed transformations (and experienced my own) which have made me cry at least once a day. I believe the experience is changing me little by little everyday and will change my life forever by the time I finish here. In this short time I feel alienated with my past life, which was just a month ago. It gets does get lonely sometimes but there is satisfaction in knowing that I am now in sync with another reality of which I was aware of only through statistics. My idea of a social worker has changed forever. The people that I have met during the fellowship have been inspiring to say the least. I have met social workers who can talk about child sexual abuse and Man U’s next match in the same breath. These guys are cool. And yet they can make you cry with their stories.
I am learning things about teamwork which I never did in all my years. For the first time in my life I am a part of a hundred extremely
ambitious and passionate young men and women, working together, who are NOT COMPETING AMONG THEMSELVES. All they are aspiring to be are better teachers with a laser sharp focus on a shared vision. I hope one can gauge how that leads to so much lesser friction which leads to that much more productivity. Transactional productivity be damned. Relative grading be damned. Forced rankings be damned. Those terms are not the solution for achievement, and definitely not for productivity.
While an article like this will never be able to do complete justice to the experience, I think there is a need to introspect. There is a need to experience that “lowest common denominator”. There is a need to live consciously. There is a need to do something, anything. Kuch toh kar, yaar!
We often talked about doing our bit and not trying to boil the ocean.
The fact is that we do need to boil the ocean. There is too much muck beneath the blue surface and taking out just our bucket worth of water is not going to change it.
Being a teacher is cool. Try it. It will change your life forever. It
might even change the world. It might even get you dinner with Nandita Das.”
– Siddharth Bhaiya
Sidharth Agarwal is from Pune. He has done his post graduation in Business Administration from S P Jain Centre of Management and was working before joining Teach For India