Read this touching post from Ghazal Ghulati, a 2012 fellow at Teach for India. Nakul and I,after our first year of fellowship moved to juvenile homes, and Ghazal in her first year of fellowship took over Nakul's class in National Public School, Shahdara. She has been doing a brilliant job with both her classroom and school staff and has taken kids to whole new level. The following is a heartwarming account of how a Teach for India fellow makes her classroom an organic farmland rather than a manufacturing unit.
Saloni had asked me a while back to write a blogpost for her blog. I'd shortlisted stuff I wanted to write about but never really got around to doing it.
I'd never thought I'd be writing about Devika.
She was one of the few that Nakul had told me about. And she was hard to miss on my first day in class. Completely dishevelled, wearing a white T shirt instead of the school shirt under her tunic, her hair all over the place. She was distracted and restless more often than not in class.
Slowly to my horror I discovered that she was far behind even the average in my class. Her handwriting was a mess and most of the times she had no clue what I was saying. Lots of asking around later I found out that there was trouble at home.
We've worked hard through the year but she just wasn't making the progress I wanted her to make. Till finally I decided to try something new. I made a contract of sorts detailing all that I wanted her to study till the summer vacations. I showed her the list and then told her that if she managed to do all of it, she could get anything that she wanted. Absolutely anything.
I gave her some time to think. I was secretly of course hoping that it wasn't something too expensive. Maybe she'd want to go to the mall? a movie? some time with the laptop? But what she came back with blew my mind. S
he confidently pointed at the wall next to the White Board. Map? No. "I want those sheets", she told me. What she was pointing out to was a plain A4 sheet that I'd got laminated. Bas? She wanted two laminated white sheets for all that work I'd decided she needed to do get done soon. I took her home and explained the concept to her mother. We signed the contract. All three of us. When I told her mom to take my number, Devika promptly pointed to the wall where she'd inscribed my number with a pencil.
It's days like this that I know I've made the right decision. Forget all that talk about changing India. Just for the life experience that I've had the last one year have made all of this worth it.
Devika taught me yet another lesson in perspective and simplicity. How life really is so simple for children and we over complicate it by thinking for them. I'm not sure whether the contract will work, whether she'll fight with her brother or stick to her promise. But I do know that she's got her heart and values in the right place. I hope the world stays a happy and simple place for her all her life.