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Circle Time

– Thelma D’souza, PGLDLT-Aspirant, IAAT-ASB, Mumbai

At the beginning of our IAAT session, we were introduced to the Morning Circle. “Morning Circle” What’s that? Wait, let me brief you about the Morning Circle.
A Circle has no corners, right? Yes.
Standing in a circle helps to be connected, a feeling of oneness. As everyone is given space.

Elements of Morning Circle
 Greeting
 Sharing
 Energizer
 Greeting: As salutation such as “Dear Fourth Graders”, or “Good Morning, Friends!“
 Sharing: Any academic or social skills.
 Energizer: Any movement based activity to get physically and mentally started.
Guidelines For Following Morning Circles
 The teacher is not a leader but a mere facilitator
 Teachers need to set rules
 Objectives to be planned

How Does Morning Circle help?
 The transition from home to school serves well for the teacher as well as students.
 Easy to gain attention for teacher and students
 Start with a free mind
 Begin the day with a happy note.
 Showcase talent both for teacher and students.

Now, taking all the above into consideration, I geared up for my first Morning Circle.
Looks and sounds easy! Ah  ah……no no. A thorough planning is required. It was a challenge to lead ..Lots of apprehensions, How, When, What? Will I be able to engage them? What about discipline?….needed to seek help, so I approached my Collaborating Teacher at ASB, also took some suggestions from my IAAT Teacher Educator and my colleagues.

The children began entering the classroom. They eagerly read the salutation. At the sound of the chime, they all sat on the carpet. I played an A.V. “Greetings in different countries.” The children were glued to the screen.

A bright smile lit up their faces on seeing their country. A soft shrill echoed as India and USA greeting was
displayed on the screen. The video generated a lot of enthusiasm. This boosted my confidence.

Soon, the children adopted their own personalized greetings for their pals.
Now, it was time for sharing. Here I used an academic skill-literacy skill (Phonics) asking children to name any particular food item associated with their name initial. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves, racking their brains like-
 Veer likes Vada-pav
 Lily likes Lettuce
 Tara likes Tortilla

Finally, the much-awaited energizer!
Everyone had their own choice, “Hot potatoes, See Saw” …….were the appeals heard? “No ways”, thought I! We need to save our lives. I see burning bushes. So off we go. Fire on the Mountain…..run run…
– Oh how the children enjoyed themselves! They exclaimed “more! more…!”. Some pleaded for one last time, but I had to disappoint them as there were time constraints, but I promised them, ”Maybe some other time”



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From A Chance Classroom 

In this article, Chirag Arora., a resident-teacher at IAAT, Gurgaon, shares his experience of creating an impromptu roadside classroom.

‘The breadwinner’ was the movie I watched a few days ago. I was overwhelmed by the story of the girl who showed the courage to step out from her house for her family to survive. While watching the movie, I knew, “I would not be able to forget this girl and her story”.

After a few days, I met a new version of “the breadwinner” while I was sitting on the concrete bench in a South Delhi market. Her name was Rainav. Out of nowhere, she appeared in front of me, a five-year-old girl wearing torn and shabby clothes, yet with a pleasing smile. She said, “Please give me some money”. Striking a conversation, I asked, “Why do you need money?” There came a well prepared, standard reply, “I want to eat something.” I took out my lunch box and shared some fruits with her.

While she was eating, I observed her arms which were marked with pen-marks. These pen-marks reflected her choice to learn. Strewn across the back of her palm were crude pen-marks of A, B, C, D.

I asked her from where did you learn this? Perhaps seeing an unexpected response, she promptly replied, “school mein sikha”. Then, the conversation of few minutes followed…

Me: school jatein ho aap?

Rainav: haan, jati hu main.

Me: aaj nahi gayain aap school?

Rainav: school to 1 bje hota hai na. yahi pass mein hi rehti hu mein. Apko pata hai meri teacher ne kaha hai, ki agar hum sub class mein padhenge na to wo nayi uniform le kar ayengi humare liye.

Rainav: pen dedo mujhe ek. Likungi mein.

I took out my kit with pen and chalks. When I gave her one pen and a paper to write, one could see the excitement in her eyes. Interestingly, this also attracted the attention of a group of other similar children, and they all came and started demanding for pen and paper. I took out my stationary kit and distributed pen and papers to them.

One child came and asked for a new pen because the one he was carrying was not working. I gave him a chalk to write and told him that he doesn’t need paper for this – he can write using chalk anywhere, be it wall or bench, or even ground.I  observed this group of boys and girls for about 15 minutes and felt quite satisfied as I could see their craving for writing on paper or with chalk overcome their desire for begging to eat. I am sure we have encountered so many kids who come to beg and we often feel uncomfortable dealing with them. Instead, in this case, despite surrounded by fear of society and family constraints, they still managed to create their own space of joy and learning. They were talking, sharing, and engaged in learning by doing – no noise, no person walking by, or the heat of the sun, or Delhi’s pollution came in the way of their engagement with their learning. I sighed in amazement-”If I could bring this kind of engagement in my classrooms… I would consider myself a competent teacher!”

I shall remember these “Breadwinners” for a long time.

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Setting Class Culture

– Prajakta, Resident of I Am A Teacher, Mumbai

It’s rightly said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch”. What does it mean? It means no matter what strategic plan you try to implement with your team, its success and efficacy are going to be held back by the people implementing the plan if the culture does not support it. I understood it better when I started my internship in a grade 5 classroom of American School of Bombay. A lot of importance is given to set the right classroom culture right from day one. It was interesting for me to see how the culture was created with the help of students and not by forcing rules on them.

The first day of their school the entire class 5 gathered in their common area called the hub. During that time the common lunch agreements were discussed by prompting from the teachers. Thought to provoke questions like “How would lunch sound like/look like as per you?” This helped the children brainstorm and come up with discussions and finally the agreements for the entire grade. Thus, the whole grade 5 agreements were made for recess and lunch as they all are together during that time.

On the next day, the children were invited on the carpet to discuss the main agreements of the class. After a lot of prompting from the teacher as well as brainstorming from the children, the three main agreements were finalised for the class – Be courageous, Be responsible and Be compassionate. The children were then put up in three small groups to role-play the final agreements. Each group was asked to model one of the agreements. The children discussed ideas amongst themselves to dramatize the act given to them. They came up with creative ideas to demonstrate their topic. The teacher took pictures while they were demonstrating their acts which were later printed and put up on the walls of the class to remind them of the main agreements.

After the main agreements, other agreements regarding transitions, quiet time, using the bathroom, use of physical space and materials, seating arrangement and several other things were made by the children. All of these agreements the children are expected to follow and the teacher also repeatedly reminds them of the expectations. The agreements have helped in shaping the classroom culture which is inclusive, values empathy makes them responsible and allows them to reflect on their behaviour.

These values are repeatedly discussed, revisited as well as reminded time and again throughout the day.  I can see that when every single person in the class including the teacher agree on and abide by the values, it helps everyone to think on similar lines and work together more efficiently. The class can function smoothly with minimum confusions or conflicts as all are aware of the class expectations.

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Insights from an Intern

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Chahat Kaur interned with us in the month of July 2018, she is currently a second year college student at Claremont McKenna College, California, USA.

Education to a child is what soil is to a plant. It provides a platform for a child’s
growth. On the land of education, learning is one of the key sources of knowledge that
nurtures a child’s mind. As the metaphor continues, a child is exposed to several
sources of learning; one of the initial one’s are educational institutions – schools.
These follow specific guidelines for examining the child to provide an unbiased
education to each child. The guidelines of learning, in schools, vary amongst
countries and are distinguished mostly, by their affiliation to the boards of education.
The boards are examining systems, which organize education for students to be able
to grasp knowledge in the best manner possible. With the emphasis on the “learning
by doing” approach, the schools have deviated from a traditional classroom
environment to a modern high-tech experiential one. These changes have been
prompted due to the awareness, in parents, regarding reasonable experimental
practices that should be exercised by the teachers at the school.
The irony of the system, however is that the schools claim to provide education
through “learning by doing” approach but do not train the teachers in the same
fashion. The style of teaching holds individualistic values (varies with each teacher’s
experience), however it is imperative to observe if the style aligns well with content
assigned by the boards. The hands on learning approach is essential to have but
cannot be practiced efficiently if the teachers are not trained effectively.
The I Am a Teacher Program (IAAT) focuses on practicing the theory, which is
taught during the lectures. The theory includes modules on learning about school,
classroom and student culture. The program respects the individualistic teaching style
of the teachers, but also focuses on teaching a common set of guidelines essential to
teach students across all grade levels.
It is interesting to note here is that even though the style of teaching is different for
teachers and these trainings are mostly the same for all, there is still a certain degree
of variation in classroom functioning of each board. The CBSE exam pattern is based
on the questions given in the NCERT books, whereas the IGCSE exam questions are
based on the findings from the experiments performed in class. Much like we
appreciate the hands on learning approach, we should also fathom the need for putting
into practice the theory that is learnt by an individual to become a teacher.
Education empowers you with the ability to ponder over the intellectual challenges.
The IAAT program catalyzes this process of thinking and encourages teachers to
contemplate the purpose of education. During the course of this program, the teachers
explore this purpose and put it to use while imparting education.

Chahat Kaur
IAAT Intern



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SDMC Diaries: To dream or not to dream


by Varun Gupta

During a class on the theme of ‘Me and My Family’, I had a discussion with the children about their life’s aspirations, their wishes and dreams. Almost half of the children gave the following responses.

“मैं अपने परिवार को खुश रखना चाहता हूँ”

“मैं अपने भाई को रिमोट कण्ट्रोल कार देना चाहता हूँ पर मेरे पास पैसे नहीं है”

“मैं अपनी मम्मी से कभी दूर नहीं जाना चाहता”

“मुझे मम्मी को, पापा को खुश रखना है”

“बहन को खुश रखना है, पूरे परिवार को खुश रखना है”

“मुझे एक बड़ा सा घर चाहिए, ताकि मैं और मम्मी-पापा और बहन उस घर में रह सकें”

“अपने बहन-भाइयों, मम्मी के लिए घर खरीदना है ǀ उनको खुश रखना है”

I am quite perplexed by these answers. It makes me feel both happy and sad. Happy because it shows how much love and concern they have for their parents and siblings. But it makes me sadder because they didn’t speak of any aspirations or dreams for themselves. They talked of the happiness and wellbeing of their families. But they wouldn’t say what they want from life, what they aspire to be. Maybe it just so happened that they were not able to articulate their dreams and wishes clearly. Or maybe they do see their happiness in terms of their family’s happiness.

I understand that at this young age, their aspirations might not have taken any concrete shape and so they didn’t have much to say about it. But even when I asked them what they wanted to have, what they wanted to purchase or to play with, there was no reply. I was baffled by this silence. Why don’t they want to have anything? Children usually do. Does it have something to do with the condition at home which inhibits their growth, development, dreams? Is it the harsh daily reality they are exposed to which does not accommodate or allow dreams to flourish?

I can understand that life can sometimes be too harsh or unfair. But can life ever be so discouraging that we stop dreaming? I am thinking of that magical thing which makes people believe in dreams, encourages them to pursue their aspirations, and makes them believe in the power of sincere hard work and determination that helps us achieve anything. Is it that there aren’t enough success stories or role models in society which can keep alive these dreams? Or do we get entangled in the question of ‘how’ so as to forget to dream about the ‘what’?

WhatsApp Image 2017-07-07 at 14.38.20

I have come to realise that aspirations, dreams and hope make up the oil which keeps the light burning in our lives. In this context, as parents, we have a huge responsibility to encourage our children to keep dreaming, to care for their dreams and aspirations, and to provide strength and support to them so these can be fulfilled. Parents’ love, affection and trust work like tonic for children. Their words can either make or break the child’s confidence and ability to dream. Sometimes, we become so habitual in catching them doing something bad that we forget to see their goodness, we forget to take note of the special things they are able to do.

The same may be the case of teachers and adults in society. As a teacher, I need to look more into this, make space for their dreams, and take the required steps to see their aspirations accomplished. We need to nurture and sustain these dreams, we need to help everyone believe that they can fly, can do anything, can become as they wish.

Varun is an IAAT PGDLT Fellow currently working at the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Hauz Khas Police Colony School

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My view on Literacy


Image from Rory Cellan

While working with children of Grade 7, I understood the need for them to engage in literacy not just via the traditional pen and paper but also through digital media. Lets face it – our children are digital natives. They engage with technology more readily and with far more enthusiasm. In return, it helps them build creativity, imagination and visual recall.

Technology may be an essential element of new age literacy, however after being in the classrooms and looking at the learning trends for children, I firmly believe that writing is still a core need for learning and a step towards higher standard of literacy. With writing, children not only gain an in depth understanding of the concept but are also able to articulate with precision. During assessments children who were in the habit of writing were able to present their answers much better and their understanding of the concepts was also more visible. This habit will definitely be an advantage in this era of globalization, where proper communication is a necessity when dealing with culturally and linguistically diverse groups.

Sadly, with shorthand and acronyms from social media spilling over into daily usage, it is the quality of written content that is suffering. Not only has our spoken language been “chutneyfied” as put by linguist Rita Kothari but even the written is being crucified. It is fashionable now to write Hindi in English, to punctuate with smileys instead of full stops, and to be pithy rather than precise. What is disturbing about this trend is the impact even on non-verbal communication. Just the other day, I overheard two children sharing a joke which culminated into an utterance of “LOL”. There was no trace of a smile on their faces. Emotional responses are getting acronymized along with the language.


Image from xkcd

In this light, I would argue that we cannot lose sight of the 3Rs (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic) in the journey towards the 4Es (Engage, Explore, Explain, Evaluate). An emphasis on language would not be misplaced keeping in mind the constant onslaught of short form digital content. It is only by developing the habit of reading and writing that we can nurture articulate and effective communicators. The 21st century skills (critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information) cannot be gained without building a strong foundation of literacy.

Sunayna Uberoy, Alumnus, I Am A Teacher


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My Reflections on the Village Expedition

~~ Reflections by IAAT Residents on their expedition to two of the villages in Haryana ~~

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“As a child, summer vacations meant visiting my maternal uncle, who owns a farm in a village. So the mention of a village always brought back images of a self-reliant, agriculture-based unit where life, though full of challenges, was based on diligent hard work and a simple way of living. All villagers worked as per the skill and resources they had. Government aid was limited and its distribution questionable, as was evident from the daily issues for which the villagers sought help from my uncle. Caste –system deeply pervaded daily life, and education was only a means to attain literacy, usually only for the male members of the family, with no desire to learn and grow as an individual…

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