Teaching is a profession that creates all other professions. Before I pursued an integrated undergraduate course in B.Sc with B.Ed, I never knew what education as a subject really was. Why even as a subject – I hardly had any idea about what education truly stood for! Like the rest of the masses, I would confuse it with the closely related yet entirely misleading concept of literacy. I found a new dimension when I attended my first day at college. Three years in a central government college and that too of NCERT, widen your horizon. Before you know it, you are a part of the continuous events and celebratory programs. In the first semester, I heard about the internship to be done in the seventh semester. Wow! I could be a teacher while being a student; however, I learned along the way that these two are obsolete terms. Constructively, there is no designated teacher within a class, and no one is just a student. Rather we developed an understanding that there is a facilitator who is a learner along with the entire class population.
Internship excited each one of my batch mates for drastically different reasons: wearing a saree for six weeks, or getting a chance to be on the opposite side of the class, or simply enjoying the perks of being someone important. For me, however, it was far more than that. Studying B.Ed had gotten me tangled with child, social, and cognitive psychology. My internship provided a perfect platform to apply all those theories and work with young and curious minds. The classroom became my laboratory, and my learners were my projects! Each one so special, so different, and yet all were divergent thinkers! A perfect blend of uniqueness with universality. Internship for us at Regional Institute of Education (NCERT), Bhopal, is a part of syllabus, so we were all eligible. The batch of 120 is split into groups mixing the final year students from different backgrounds – PCM, PCB, and Arts – and sent to 12-13 different KVs and JNVs. As Kendriya Vidyalaya 1 is the top KV in Bhopal, I was totally hyped! Even more so when the professors saw my group composition and commented that we were specially chosen for that school as the commissioner and other famous personalities often visited KV 1 randomly. I voluntarily became the group leader.
As I wasn’t habitual of wearing sarees, it took me around 50 minutes to drape the saree on my first day. I was sent to class I-D where I met merely 6-year-olds trying to make meaning with a robot having eyes, nose, mouth, arms, and legs of different basic shapes. I got portraits of me with ‘Fiza mam’ written with F tilting right and rest of the letters in their own world. That day I realised that a teacher’s treasure is love from the learners and not greeting cards or gifts. On the second day, our team was assigned a secondary section to take different classes. As soon as I entered any class, learners stormed questions like what my name was or whether I taught English subject. I used to give a clichéd reply that I didn’t teach anything, and I was there to learn physics and mathematics with them. I went to class VI-A where I had planned to teach separation of substances and chose the topic ‘Sedimentation, Decantation, and Filtration’. It involved using glass beakers. I executed the lesson as well as I planned it; however, in the end, one beaker got swept off the table (by my own hyperactive hands), and it broke! Embarrassed, I sat down to put the glass pieces aside as I was worried that kids might get hurt. I left the class and found a helper lady and asked her to clean it and the reaction she gave – I can’t ever forget it!
The first week ended. From the second week, I was serious for the evaluative part of my internship and complete the assigned tasks within six weeks. I became regular in three classes: VI-A, VIII-A, and IX-A. Of the three, the younger the learners, the more interactive they were and appeared more eager to learn. Every single lecture made me face novel situations. There were learners having some ache, or without of context doubts, or with silly and funny questions. I can proudly assert that I never dismissed any response from anyone. My motto as a mentor always remained – “Work smart, not hard”. I made it my sole purpose to reduce a sentence to the simplest form possible so as to make it meaningful to the learners. I discouraged rote learning in any form. During my B.Ed in-class training, I had been given a life-long lesson by a professor for a single term that I coined incorrectly. While Prof. Rao was giving a talk on ‘Gifted Learners’, I asked how one could deal with slow learners. He asserted that there were no slow learners and that everyone learned at their own pace. It got so deeply rooted in my mind that I never again used that term consciously. During this internship, I dealt with all kinds of learners – gifted, hyperactive, inactive, non-responsive, highly-interactive, and many more that couldn’t be sorted into categories.
The second week passed smoothly. It was also the time when I started searching for a case study that each one of us was supposed to carry out. Then came the ‘observation week’. Faculties would observe the classes, assess our performance, and evaluate it. The fourth week was the most crucial: the criticism week! Faculties from our college came to criticise our overt and covert behaviour and conduct as a teacher so as to suggest us the best way to improve the lessons – both planning and execution. The following fifth week went smoothly and in a blink, without any interruptions. I selected my case – a student named Deepansh Raja. A highly bullied but excellent learner, he was always enthusiastic about solving the proposed mathematical problems on the board. However, he couldn’t hold the chalk with proper pressure and so his writing wasn’t visible to everyone. When I probed further, he shared that he started having vibrations in his hands out of anxiety during the previous year’s final mathematics exam, and since then he had been writing slowly. During a parent-teacher meeting in the fifth week, he brought his parents, and I could meet the lovely couple who further helped me to research in my case. They told that Deepansh was undergoing speech therapy. He was asthmatic and went out of breath quickly while speaking as a side effect of the prescribed medicines. After I pointed out the sudden movements in his hand, he worked on controlling them and told me that he could hold his arm while writing to improve the speed. Gladly, the vibrations in his arms reduced and he was able to write faster.
Academic part is only one organ of teaching, but there are even bigger inevitable ones. The setting of timetable is by far the toughest duty I have seen. Since we, the interns, were disrupting the normal schedule of the school, we had to find a way to fit ourselves into their planner. Those cooperative teachers helped us to the core, and it was because of them that we could carry out our work effectively. Then came the co-curricular activities. There was a national integration camp, “Ek Bharat, Sreshtha Bharat”, during the final week and it was the first time I was at a school but at the non-participatory end. Before this, I had never made rangoli using stencil at the inaugural site. My team had helped the participating learners in different activities, and we were eager to watch how the guidance had turned out. That three days long camp left us awe-struck after seeing how the students were swiftly shifting their roles and trying hard to make their school win!
So my lessons were almost delivered, the case study was done, achievement and diagnostic tests were conducted, and peers were observed. Pretty much all that was a part of the syllabus was done. Milestones reached, mission accomplished. But was it all?
The six weeks went day by day, each proposing a new challenge in a novel atmosphere. What I took back to my college was a lot more than a checklist of assigned tasks. I gained a different level of wisdom: professional zeal mixed with the sophistication of the post I represented. There is no gesture that goes unnoticed by the young learners; be it my hairstyle, or the way I wish them a ‘good morning’, or how arms swing when I tell them about action and reaction. I probably learnt a lot more than I helped my learners. This internship gave me an opportunity to realise where I stood, taught me team spirit, and prepared me for the professional world. In a nutshell, for all the torchbearers of today, – “The difference between a well-planned and a well-executed lesson is of imagination. The key to an excellent execution is to expect the unexpected and keep scope for impromptu activities.”
About the Author: Fiza Farooqui, a student of Regional Institute of Education, Bhopal, talks about her experience of teaching children and how it helped her gain newer perspectives. This article was first published on Internshala, and internship and training platform.