I started my first day of teaching English to kids here in India on Saturday’s. I thought my job was exhausting, but this was a whole other story! Exhausting but so much fun! I arrived at the school at 9am and the principal took me on a brief tour of the school and I literally had my own classroom of 25 kids about 10 minutes later.
The initial tour was basically to decide what class she wanted to give me, because they are short of teachers and basically, there would be a few classrooms with no teacher to attend to the kids. During our tour, we came across 25 kids (ages 6-9) sitting outside in desks rather than a proper classroom. The principal explained to me that these were the kids that really couldnt function in a normal classroom setting and unfortunately, their teacher was not available that day. The principal casually asks me … “Do you want to take this class?” The kids were so cute I couldnt resist. She handed me the workbook and said, “you o.k?” … “um, sure”... And that’s how I became a teacher in India. Lol.
I started reading from the workbook and then they had to write down what I said. These kids actually had better penmanship than me. Impressive. They were getting so excited when I told them they wrote it correctly that they all started coming up to me when they were done writing to show me what they had done. I had to say sit down about 100 times but it was so cool to see how excited they were. Aside from one fight between two of the kids - whoops! - (where no one got hurt thankfully) everything went pretty well I think. When the class was over and it was time for lunch this little boy who was sitting quietly during the whole class, quietly came over to me and put his hand out “Very nice to meet you”. Ridiculously adorable! I sat with the other teacher’s during lunch, but the only other teacher that spoke English wasn't there with me so that was interesting. During lunch, they asked me if I could now switch over to the 5th grade class where they were conjugating verbs. To which I replied “to be completely honest, it’s been a long time and I forget what that means”. Seriously, I was a little intimidated. “ Ok, how about you just work out of the workbook”… “O.k. sounds good”. I was very relieved. I arrived in the class to which they kids all stand up and say “good morning Ma'am”. Good morning I replied. – They didn’t call me ma'am for the entire class… they instead switched to “Di Di” which means “older sister” which I was really happy that they chose instead of “Auntie” or “Ma'am” which are the standard other choices. I wanted to break the ice a little so I asked them if they knew where I was from to which they answered ….“Child #1 England? …#2 South Africa?.... Australia? … England?.... Japan? (lol) … I know, I know, US of A! …. That is a BEAU-TI-FUUUULL place!” I told them, since I would be helping them with their English, I would like them to help me with my pronunciation skills. So if they could each tell me their names and I would pronounce them that would be great. “But you can’t laugh at me”, I said. To which they completely couldnt’t help but do during this process. They were very helpful and again sooo incredibly cute; even though they were laughing at me! We did some readings out of their book and they were all so eager to read out loud to the point that one kid almost started crying because I didn’t choose him first. – He was happy that I chose him second though. I rewarded them for finishing the story by letting them ask me some questions about where I was from … since they kept asking in between their readings. “What are your hobbies” … “what’s in like in the U.S.”, “Am I married” –standard question here, “what does my father do” – another standard question. "Are you a good dancer?".
All in all ended up leaving with a card, a flower and a desire to change my profession to full-time English teacher. I think I will stick to my current position for now, but we’ll see what happens!
INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING IN INDIA? By the way, if you are interested in Volunteering in India (either short-term, long-term or as part of a Volunteer Tourism project) you can contact Joining Hands via www.joininghandsindia.org. They are a great organization that works with NGO's throughout India many areas of need (eduction, environment, women empowerment, child care, etc). They pre-screen the NGO's they work with, help NGO's run more efficiently, ensures the volunteer placements truly fit the needs of the NGO and the potential volunteer as well as tracks the progress of your placement. Sumedha Nair was my contact there and was very helpful to work with.