Today was the last day of the Indian Sunday school. Hari had a pretty good year. He finished the year by winning the culture essay writing competition (topic being my favorite Panchatantra story and what lessons did I learn from it) and acing the Tamizh finals. This year in culture, he got exposed to stories from Mahabharata, Indian geography, and few popular national leaders. He supplemented these with the Amarchitra Katha books from India. Between school and his personal reading, he has amassed wealth of knowledge on Indian mythology. In Tamizh, he made a lot of progress in terms of vocabulary, reading and writing. This will amount to something only if make it a habit to speak to him in Tamizh. So the ball is now in our court.
I taught Hari’s culture class this year. I have always wanted to try my hands on teaching and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do so inspite of not having any formal training. I pretty much taught this year based on my experience of raising two kids. Working on the lesson plan and the content was the less challenging part, the real ordeal was in managing and keeping a class of 23 kids engaged for 45 minutes with one student helper. Made me realize how much time is spent in classroom management than in actual teaching.
This year I was lucky to have kids who were co-operative and very participative in class. We typically started every class with a prayer. Then, we reviewed the classroom rules – modeling our behavior on BalGanesh – His big ears teach us to listen well, His small eyes teach us to focus, His big head teach us to think ideas so on and so forth. Towards the beginning of the second term, I had an unfortunate accident in the class. A table tipped over a kids’ fingers and rendered him with multiple fractures. From then on, ensuring safety became my no. 1 priority.
Following the review of the rules, we would go over the content. I used combination of role plays, audio cds, and reading to have the kids engaged. I would obsessively review the learning from the earlier class, making sure that there was participation from majority of them. Homeworks were given every weekend. Some days we would wrap up the lesson sooner than planned and play some fun games that reinforced what was taught in class. When it came to tests, I believed in over preparing the kids but setting really easy questions, so they will have an opportunity to shine and feel accomplished.
Overall, I am pleased with this year and have some ideas around what I need to improve for next year. As I said goodbye and thanked my kids for making this year a good first year of teaching for me, a few of them came up to me to hug me, and tell me that they really loved being in my class and would miss me next year…! My heart was thumping with joy! What more could I ask for?
Here’s is a shout out to my army of helpers:
– Hari for being my benchmark. I used him as a guideline to get a flavor for how much content the kids can handle, what will work, and what will not work. Honestly, without him it would have been like shooting darts in the dark.
– Ram for cheerfully bidding me good bye and wishing me – “Have a good time at Sunday school, okay?”
– Da for truly believing that if I want to do something, I should go ahead and do it. Not for once, he made me feel guilty for trading family time to pursue my personal interests. Instead, he cheerfully saw it as an opportunity to spend some exclusive time with Ram. What can I say other than he is my hero!