Saturday Specials At A Rural School
In a rural school in Gorakhpur, a teacher has dedicated Saturdays for conversations with her students on anything under the sun. This has got even the shyest of students to open up, and has made both teaching and learning a joy, the teacher said.
Pratyaksh Srivastava 13 Sep 2023 6:37 AM GMT
Ramughat, Gorakhpur [Uttar Pradesh]
Nidhi Chaturvedi has realised it is important to first get her shy students comfortable enough to talk amongst themselves and to her, before she can make any headway in her lessons.
“Children often just nod their heads when I ask them if they have understood something I taught. I have learnt for them that it is easier than having to articulate what they have not understood,” Chaturvedi, an assistant teacher at the Primary School in Ramughat, told Gaon Connection.
“A student, Prateek Sahani, was very shy. He would always nod his head if I asked him if he understood something. But, soon I realised he really had not understood it,” she said.
Chaturvedi realised that there were many children like Prateek, who would rather remain silent than speak out if they could not grasp a lesson.
“What is the point if the children are not getting what I tell them? That was when I realised that I have to first make them confident enough to speak up in class, without any fear. If they don’t speak up, I will never know if they have understood the lesson,” Chaturvedi said.
“Luckily, there are mechanisms in place under the NIPUN program which help us assess if our students have comprehended what has been taught to them in class. That is how I realised that a mere ‘Yes, Ma’am’ was no guarantee that they have understood,” she added.
NIPUN is an acronym for National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy which was launched in 2021 by the Union Ministry of Education. The programme focuses on consolidating and strengthening the literacy and numeracy skills of students in classes one, two and three.
Chaturvedi decided she would have warm up exercises in class that would loosen the tongues of her tongue-tied students.
So she began by asking them about their trip to the market, to their grandmothers’, the temple…what they did there, what they ate there and her ploy worked! Children were happy to recount their experiences.
“The teacher’s’ guide recommends questions that can elicit objective answers that are to start with just made up of one or two words. These questions then gradually lead up to those that require the students to respond in a whole sentence or even more,” Chaturvedi explained.
Objective and subjective questions are recommended in the guides which are provided to teachers across the state by the Basic Education department of the Uttar Pradesh government.
Chaturvedi said how, “Once they start talking about what they ate in the bazaar [market], they are more than happy to tell me how they travelled, what they saw and so on. Coaxing these small details from them leads to entire conversations, and they are not shy anymore!”
According to her, once the ice is broken and the children are comfortable talking, it is but a short step for them to put their hands up and say they have not understood something that was said by the teacher.
“This helps them grasp their lessons better as they have no hesitation in clarifying their doubts with the teacher. We have seen how much better their comprehension is after we have encouraged them to talk more,” she said.
The objective and subjective questions and answers have had a positive impact on shy Prateek. “Ma’am asked me about my family trip to Gorakhnath temple, my favourite snacks, the cartoons I enjoy watching… I am not shy like I was before,” he told Gaon Connection.
Chaturvedi has ensured that Saturdays are conversation days and her students are loving it. “It is a day of suspense and excitement for us,” Mohammad Tasdeeq, her student said.
“On Saturdays we talk about things that are not related to studies. We discuss what is happening in the village, sports, food and so on. That is why we love Saturdays in school the best,” he said.
Chaturvedi feels validated, she said. “The attendance of students is high on Saturdays. It makes me feel good when children want to come to school,” she said.