Spreading smiles in the classroom
For Nidhi Singh, a primary school teacher from Bagahibhari village, Gorakhpur, her smiley badges have helped her grab the attention of her students. She gives out these badges to students to reward them for their performance. The parents are acknowledged too.
Pratyaksh Srivastava 29 July 2023 3:30 AM GMT
Bagahibhari (Gorakhpur), Uttar Pradesh
Eight-year-old Suraj Gaur can barely contain his excitement. His teacher, Nidhi Singh, has just handed him a ‘Smiley’, lovingly handcrafted, to be given to the best performing student of the month.
Nidhi Singh does this in order to engage her little wards better. The 30-year-old assistant teacher at the Primary School in Bagahibhari village, Gorakhpur, has 59 students in her class. Her challenge lies in the fact that not all of them are at the same level of learning and there are those who need a little more attention and handholding.
“The students in class one have no prior experience of formal learning other than whatever they are taught at the anganwadi centres before coming to school. So, firstly I divide the students into three groups — A, B, and C,” Singh explained.
“Group C is the most challenging. It is made up of those students who have a slower grasp of things, and have a shorter attention span,” she added.
From holding the hands of her young students in order to make them write to teaching them poems that will help them remember numbers and alphabets, Singh does them all.
And her remediation techniques are working wonders!
Sakshi Paswan, another student from the class, has been awarded the Smiley badge of honour four times. But it comes with responsibilities.
“Nidhi madam asks me to ensure discipline in the class in her absence. It feels good when they listen to me. It is because I have won the smiley badge so many times,” Sakshi told Gaon Connection.
The aim of remediation techniques adopted by the assistant teacher is to ensure that her students excel and become ‘NIPUN’ — meaning accomplished.
NIPUN is also the acronym for the ‘National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy’ scheme of the central government. 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.
Worksheets work wonder
Other than the Smiley badges, Singh also relies on worksheets provided by the education department in Uttar Pradesh, to bring all her students up to par.
The children work on the worksheets, and Singh assesses them once a week, on Saturdays, after which she is able to categorise them into fast learners, those who need to work harder, and those who need remedial attention.
Bhojpuri to build trust
Singh often breaks into Bhojpuri, the more commonly spoken language of her students’ families. “Just using the word bhaat instead of chawal, or kiwaad instead of darwaza, goes a long way in being accepted,” she said.
“It is only after three months that I begin to talk to them in Hindi. It takes them time to switch from the more informal and rustic tum they use for older people to the more respectful aap,” she said.
“Children usually learn Maths and English easily but Hindi is tough. I often use my mobile as an audio-visual aid phone to ‘show and tell’,” she smiled.
Special attention to slow learners
For Singh, while all her students are dear to her, she does pay special attention to those who need it. “In my class, almost all the students attend the remedial classes. I don’t want anyone to feel disheartened for being singled out for remedial classes. They study while their friends play,” she said. So everyone sits in the class, I just keep a closer eye on the students who need that extra push, and they all excel together,” the teacher said.
Also, Singh uses a ‘pyramid style’ of teaching in which she appoints fast learners in her class to teach the weaker students.
“I find it better to learn from my friends because he knows what I don’t know,” Satyam Nishad, a student in the same class, told Gaon Connection, when asked about his experience of learning through the pyramid style of teaching.
But, for Singh, there is another challenge, that of attendance.
“I remember how hard it was convincing Suraj to attend classes regularly. He was a bright child. I taught him for two months, he was learning well, but suddenly, he disappeared for weeks. When he returned, he had forgotten all that he had learnt,” she rued.
Awards to parents to tackle absenteeism
In order to tackle absenteeism, the parents of the students are invited to meetings regularly and asked to ensure their wards attend classes regularly. The most aware parents are awarded during the annual functions.
Singh explained that factors such as parents who are constantly in touch with their child’s progress, parents who regularly attend parent-teacher conferences, and themselves ask questions about their child’s education are regarded as ‘aware’ parents.
Sanju Gaur, the 30-year-old mother of Suraj is one such recipient of the award.
“I was awarded as a parent. I felt proud of my son. There was a lot of bheed [crowd] in the ceremony and everybody in the village congratulated me. It felt good,” the mother said.