camp stories or the woe of never finding original titles for my unoriginal pieces (Part 3)
I want to start this piece writing about something that I've wanted to mention the previous two times as well, before I forget about it again. My classmate has been keeping this blog about his Russian adventures and though sports in general, and especially Football is something that interests me in the least, I look forward to reading his blog every single day and the first time I found it, I was so excited about the fact that someone I knew, actually figured out what he wanted to do and was doing it. Link to the blog can be found here. Thanks Yadu (who I actually never talk to in class), for writing down these things and sharing it with us. It made me want to write too.
Moving on to the actual matter at hand, classes with these kids were something else. Now these kids know English (somewhat), I don't know Telugu (at all) - and I had to teach them English communication using their limited English knowledge. I won't deny that it felt amazing when the kids finally understood something after I explained it for the 11th time in various different ways. But explaining it 11 times in that manner was physically taxing as well. It just reinforced my belief that Teachers just aren't paid enough. Our classes consisted of a mixture of kids starting from Class 7 to Class 12 and so, they all reacted and did things quite differently. And we constantly had to think of ways that would keep the kids engaged, make them participate and interact with us.
|morning assemblies just meant figuring out some new dance that the kids would like|
As far as I was concerned, the purpose of these 20 days was not to make their English perfect in any sense, improve their grammar and/or spelling by telling them rules or so. I just wanted to make them open their mouths, wanted them to be confident or at least comfortable enough with me that they would actually try to communicate and the only way they could do that was through English, so more communication would eventually improve their English. I don't know to what extent my logic worked but I really didn't bother correcting grammar and spelling so much when kids spoke or wrote, I just wanted them to do more. The more confident they were, the more they would communicate, and the more they communicated, the more their English improved. Key was to get them to participate in things and realise they were not absolutely horrible at it, so that they could gain some confidence to volunteer the next time. The curriculum we were supposed to follow was very activity based, so that was fun to do and to see them perform different things as well.
|this kid was desperate to impress me but at least because of that, her communication and inter personal skills just drastically improved (self praise much)|
|just trying to help|
|look at their hair all tied up with pretty ribbons|
flying paper planes which contained within it their dreams
During our morning sessions we did two learning tracks, one about Communicating using English and the second was about certain Learning Tools that these kids could use for their normal academics. In the afternoon, all 5 of us except the Camp Lead took different extra curricular clubs. Amongst us there was a person each for Arts, Reading, Music, Dance and Theatre. For someone who had always stuck to the backstage aspect of theatre, just writing or doing a little bit of direction, I never could or would act. Now I had gotten a class of 30 kids who were obviously only into the acting aspect and wanted to do things related to that. I had to perform and teach these kids to perform. Shame and shyness had to take a backseat. This was my challenge (don't want to say punishment) for all the times I got away playing the shy introvert card.
|had to think of activities that didn't involve too much acting|
sharing the knowledge I gained courtesy of Sudhir sir, who brought my scripts to life many a times at school
My only concerns with respect to the Theatre club was that if they had gotten someone who knew a little more about the acting aspect, they'd have been so much better off. I repeatedly shared this concern with the other 5 who convinced me that it was fine, that any exposure these kids had was good exposure and as long as I was trying my best, it didn't matter. I did try my best, I even tried acting to show them what was to be done and so on. Besides, these kids were great, they just needed some discipine and ideas on how to work on stage and different ways of performing and so on, which I could help them with. During the morning sessions I had 60 kids in class but during my theatre club sessions, I just had 30 kids in class. I say my kids and my theatre club since the smaller class size meant the kids got a lot more comfortable with me and vice vera.
|kids were supposed to write anything they wanted to here, so much validation in terms of the likes i got|
The three sessions which as trainers we felt wouldn't work out well but in the end ended up as being favourites were Debate, Group Discussion and Extempore. These sessions happened on the last few days when the kids had really warmed up to us and hence they went Spectacularly well. Kids were confident, struggling to string words together, but trying still and it made me soooo happy! I was beaming at the end of day when we finished Group Discussion in class because some kids who had never spoken before were speaking, using the body language they were supposed to use and being altogether too great. They were happy, I was ecstatic. Some kids would come up to me thanking me for ridding them of their stage fright and concerns of being laughed at when they spoke in English.
|my handwriting will always be ugly|
More about the final performance, the final days, living with 5 random strangers and so on later. Now that I'm writing this, wish I had written day to day accounts when they were happening. I guess something is better than nothing.
(To be continued, maybe, mostly.)