Sunday, May 29, 2011

Life @ TFI

Fun Fact: Average Human mind has 12000 thoughts per day…

Didi Game!……Introduction to new material…. Scaffolded questions …..Didi Toilet…. …Didi he is fighting…Didi I haven’t got notebook today ..Lesson Plans….Deadlines….Classroom management…didi why?.....Didi water...Didi fan…….   6:44AM: Arnab shouts : Fellows bus leaves in 1 minute….Didi biscuit khao na…...2:30 AM Ping: yaar video challenge ka document fill kar diya?…..Didi in Table of contents we have to arrange numbers  in ascending orders! ….Nakko Didi…..9:30 AM: Didi school over?....Investment Plan…. …..Laughter….Insomina….Emergent Level Diagnostic….One Team! ….Chal yaar chai peene chal rahi hai? Session 2 baje hai yaar…uthhhhhh…….…Green……….. Machine!…. Yaar maine submit nahi kiya LP…..Project Manager wont spare me…Yaar reflection nahi karna ab aur…Mausi chai milegi kya? …....……Yaar weekend pe lonavla chalte hain…Forget it yaar…neend aa rahi hai..….…Romana asks: is this Phonics or PPA? … Saale mere boyfriend ne phone nahi kia abhi tak….Rain Rain Come Again …Yaar mess mein nahi khana…..My rock ka matlab?.......Lemon Tree mein IPL ka final dekhte hain...Egg Roll mil raha hoga kya? 10:30 baj raha hai!….Maureen ka jabse Coupelia attend kiya hai abhi tak dard ho raha hai yaar…….Shrihari Greets: Have a terrific tuesday!…..…Didi dream means sapna…. Philelooooooooo …HOOOOOOOOOOOO ….Didi Banana Dance…...Evan speaks: Be Cognizant….


……..the moments of a lifetime…

Saturday, May 21, 2011

@ Teach for India : We are one mighty mighty Insane Team

It’s Saturday evening and there is an absolute silence in the hostel.  People are either sleeping, watching movies on their laptops with headphones on, playing at the basket ball court, roaming around the city for a good break or quietly in corners of their rooms working on lesson plans (a detailed plan of our 45-minute teaching everyday) for upcoming weeks. You may call people in the last category insane for choosing to work on weekends but after spending three weeks I can easily claim that no one in TFI could be devoid of insanity. Insanity is a common trait among the fellows! We have MBA from INSEAD, graduates from IIM Indore who are here to find their lives’ true calling. We have fellows who forgo admits from IIM-Bangalore or TISS Social Entrepreneurship program, people who gave up well-paying jobs or preparation for IAS or people who were just not happy being relaxed in their previous jobs and wanted real challenges. A bunch of crazy people makes Teach for India a very special place to work for. In a way, it is kind of serendipitous that all these crazy people found a common place.

The third week of our training has ended and backward counting has begun. Two more weeks and music will stop! The fellows will be on their own working in their respective schools in company of may be 1,2 or 3 more fellows. And the amazing support system and network we have during the training will not be this handy. Plus here we still are learners but once in schools we cannot allow ourselves to do mistakes.

You may be wondering what exactly we do in our training. I already talked about sessions conducted by trainers but that’s not all. An important component of our training is summer school. From second week here, we have been going to schools to teach. We have most lovable bunch of kids whose academic gap we aim to narrow during a span of four weeks.  Two weeks have already gone. We have collected some assessment data to understand where the kids stand half-way of their summer school. Even if we get tangible results after two more weeks, the picture will be not easy to accept. It is really very difficult to visualize whether we are narrowing any gap because it is such a short time. Despite this fact, just in two weeks, each and every one of us is so connected to the kids that I am sure we all are hoping to see one day those kids going places. I sincerely hope our efforts works like a geometric progression and we in these four weeks are able to set the value of the multiple of that progression.

Personally for me, I have felt connected to one girl child especially. Her face is etched in my mind deeply but unlike National Geographic photographer who found the afghan refugee 17 years later,

I want to see life of Gauri closely.

I have fallen in love with that girl and would be blessed if I could see her growing up and see her getting successful in whatever she chooses to do. Academically she is the kid I am struggling the most but for each of my struggle she replies with immense unconditional love. 

She is a second grader; She forgets things easily, does not remember what was taught a minute ago but suddenly from somewhere she would tell me what was taught three days ago. 

I try to repeat lot of things and scribble them down in her notebook so that she remembers.

She will remain silent the whole day. I will have to make efforts for getting her to speak comfortably and eventually she will open up just to speak “What Urdu you have written in my notebook?”

Laughter! Innocent Laughter! Of Gauri and I!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Teach For India : A Movement, A Force and A Power

Sitting in a hostel room at Symbiosis Campus, Pune at 8:22 AM  I wonder what all choices I have at this moment – write this blog post, prepare lesson plans for next week, take a bath and go for breakfast or just sleep for sometime more on nice sunny Sunday morning. It is end of week 2 at first training institute of third year of my organization Teach for India. In first two weeks of its first training institute in its third year of being, Teach for India has made us feel the mettle of the movement that it is working for. I wrote this phrase “third year of TFI” twice because I wanted to emphasize upon the fact that merely in its third year, TFI has built a powerful force that I never seen before or heard of.

What I am going to describe right now is a perfect organization and you might wonder if I am exaggerating!

During first few days, in one of our training rooms a chart had a following quote from Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit “

After every training session, I have walked out of that room thinking “God! I have read lot of quotes before but I have never seen them happening each time I read them”. Our curriculum specialist, Srihari creates magic in the training room. A former Teach for America fellow, he teaches us everything from Lesson Planning to Classroom Management, with every session perfectly delivered. Our training director does some gymnastic to energize the sleep-deprived trainees. Our city director promises to dance if we fill all the surveys so that they get right feedback and measure their effectiveness. Our creative team teaches us Banana dance sometime in the middle of a long session. From wearing paper hat and walking in the streets to raise money to madly jumping from one side of the room to the other to prove that results are produced because I have an intention and will find a mechanism howsoever. From waking till 2 AM to prepare a lesson plan when the previous day I worked for 15 hours and next day I will be working for no less to waking at 5:00 AM in the morning every day. From reaching to every session five minutes earlier and to be allowed to leave the room if the session overshoots (that happened just once till now), Teach for India is definitely a power that will drastically change lives of not only those children who will be taught but also the lives of fellow who will teach. Each and every staff member is an excellent example of excellence, of practicing what is preached and of serious commitment towards the cause they are here for.

Shall I tell you why I chose to write this blog post over all the choices that I had. Because here at TFI, they reckon the power of passion, of reflection and I wanted to start my day with reflection of my journey so far.

Take Care and enjoy rest of your weekend!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The PHIRKI said it all!

“The colors of phirki represent the diversity of fellows and when the phirki is set in motion, a movement begins!” said Shaheen Mistry my new CEO as I took an oath (not literally but you feel like that you have, after you experience what I am about to explain) to become formally a 2011 Teach for India Fellow. I have read that an organization is a smallest unit where every action is taken to achieve vision and mission of the organization and I always thought this is much better said in theory than practice. Come to teach for India and you will see that there is one organization that is following it in letter and spirit. The facility we have been provided is good enough that we don’t get bothered in petty issues and yet there is no money extra spent anywhere. For example - on the opening ceremony on the stage there is no fancy backdrop that attracts attention. A simple song which represents hope grabs all the applause. It is that simple! A projector, wonderful pictures and a good audio is all needed to make an opening ceremony successful and make people feel moved! You don’t need a bollywood or sports celebrity to light a candle and set the tone for your two years. You just need to see those children who are the best examples of what has been achieved and what could be achieved. Smiles of children like these are the candles that you have to lit!

Our induction happened today. It was the first day of my fellowship and every hour something was happening and whenever I could manage to find some time, I found myself in company of incredible people. You will never see a training director dancing on the stage everytime she gets on and off of it. The enegy is infinitely high. Will you believe if I say that group of 10 10ers(2010 fellows) made noise as loud as group of 150 11ers?  We are still shy to shout they aren’t! They know what we are set to achieve after having achieved that in last year. Would you like to work in an organization where when a new employee enters, people shout at top of their voice to welcome him and they do it for 150 new employees in one day! Have you seen an organization where senior stands throughout the whole bus ride of 45 minutes while juniors are too tired half way through their first day that they sleep (BTW there is actually no senior/junior here! I am using it for making comparison easier with usual colleges/organizations). If you haven’t, Welcome to Teach for India!
Officially from today, This blog is going to refer a new mukaam in my life – lighting the candles in lives of   few  kids out of 13500 kids TFI is reaching out this year.

And I hope you dance with me! This is precisely my cup of tea!