Conversations in the classroom
Jagriti Mishra is a teacher at a primary school in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, who uses an array of teaching methods to break the fear of public speaking in her students who come from rural hinterlands.
Pratyaksh Srivastava 12 Aug 2023 5:35 AM GMT
Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh
Priyansh Kumar won’t stop talking. He just loves to talk about his family and home, characters in his favourite story book, and his school. “He is the most talkative guy I know,” Abhishek Verma, his friend and classmate, jokingly teased him.
Abhishek and Priyansh are students of Primary School Nagar Kshetra, in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. And, their teacher who is looking on indulgently, is Jagriti Mishra.
“I can’t quite believe this is the same boy who earlier refused to utter a word, but now has no fear of public speaking,” the 42-year-old teacher told Gaon Connection.
A simple daily exercise of reciting poems aloud in class has brought about this change in the six-year-old student of class 1, informed his teacher. “I make my students memorise and then recite poems aloud in class. They love it and this exercise also helps them shed their fear of public speaking,” she said.
Poem recitation is one of the many methods Mishra, who is posted as a Shiksha Mitra at the school since 2008, uses to engage with the 46 students in her class. Shiksha Mitra is technically a para-teacher who is employed by the state government on a temporary basis and assists the teachers in teaching the students.
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Mishra makes full use of the teacher guides and lesson plans that the state education department has provided to all government schools to help educators engage better with their students.
“The lesson plans urge teachers to make the students proactive, and I have realised that it is the best way to draw children out of their shells and enjoy the process of learning,” she said.
The lesson plans specify how children who are newly enrolled into school are to be made comfortable. There are tips and guides and very specific tips on how to do that, through interactive activities such as poem recitations, conversations, storytelling, quizzes and group discussions.
The lesson plans which Mishra talked about are prepared as part of the Union government’s NIPUN — National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy — initiative which is a nation-wide plan to strengthen foundational literacy and numeracy skills in students from classes one to three.
As per the objectives of the NIPUN initiative, the highest priority for the school education system is to achieve universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy skills at primary level by 2026-27.
Conversations help bridge the gap
Instead of talking down to them, Mishra believes in talking with her students. “We talk about what is going on in our lives, our families, what we did that day, and so on,” she smiled. She said she believed making them feel at home was imperative if any learning and teaching were to happen in class.
“We sit in a circle on the floor and hold conversations. This way we are all on the same level. The children feel I am part of them, and not some figure of authority they should fear,” said added.
The conversations and recitations and story telling sessions increase the confidence and the fluency of the children who get more and more articulate as time passes, the teacher said.
Ankita Gaur, a student in Mishra’s class enjoys reciting poems and sprang out of her seat to recite her favourite one aloud. It was about how ‘good children’ rise early, brush their teeth, bathe and then sit down to study.
Hua savera chidiya boli
Bachchon ne tab aankhen kholee
Achchhe bachche manjan karate
Manjan karke kulla karate
Kulla karke munh ko dhote
Munh ko dhokar roz nahaate
Roz naha kar padhne jaate
As soon as she finished, Jigar Kumar, another student, piped up. “I know the names of our prime minister, the chief minister, the district magistrate and the capitals of many countries and states,” he said. “I often ask my other friends and relatives these questions and they do not know the answers that I do,” he added with glee.
Fun in the classroom
Seven-year-old Jigar Kumar dramatically declared that he didn’t like ‘missing’ the school on a holiday.
“I watch cartoons on TV, I have friends and Jagriti madam tells the best stories. I love coming to school,” he told Gaon Connection.
Technology in the government primary schools has greatly helped in keeping students in school, said Mishra.
“A charitable group has provided us with a television. In my class are students who have come to school for the first time, and the cartoons on television go a long way in breaking the ice and settling them in,” she pointed out.
“I love watching Chhota Bheem on the TV. I have to watch it on a small phone screen at home but here in school, watching it on the TV’s big screen with my friends is such fun,” said Ankita Gaur.
Parents and guardians are happy with the progress being made by their wards who study at Primary School Nagar Kshetra.
Poonam Vishwakarma, the aunt of six-year-old Priyansh, who now loves to talk, is pleased with the progress her nephew has made.
“Priyansh is doing well because of his teacher. He speaks English fluently and I believe that is important,” she told Gaon Connection. “For those of us who cannot afford expensive private school for our wards, English can be a ticket out of socio-economic handicaps. English can open up a whole new world for our children. And, I am so happy for Priyansh, who just loves to go to school,” she said.