Ankit Vyas, a 2011 Teach For India Fellow, is a 4th grade teacher in a low-income classroom in Mumbai.
There are rough days and then there’s 30 June 2011. The day conformed with Murphy’s fundamental law- If anything can go wrong, IT WILL. It was a day on which I was abused by a kid, told cheekily by one that he would take me to the Principal for not allowing him to go to toilet during a test. A day on which I had management issues with 10 kids who were staying back for an extra-class because they thought it was a punishment. There were kids who were crying for missing their tuition because of the extra-class. That’s when I decided to tell them bluntly why they were here. I wrote the word ‘MAKE’ on the board. None of them could read it. I said, ‘That’s why you are here.’ It was cold but it was effective. My co-teacher devised a game where the first one to reach 10 points could go home. One by one they went home until there were just 2 of the weakest remaining. Finally they made it to 10 points and I told them that they could go. That’s when they said in one voice, “Bhaiya, one more sum”. It dawned on me then that all kids want to learn but only when they feel they are learning.