Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Teaching is an art, which can be mastered with time. You need a combination of knowledge, patience, and the experience to be a good teacher. In my seven years of teaching, I learnt the secret of teaching. I am sure that as time passes by, I might alter or even change this equation. However, so far, the above equation has helped me to be a successful teacher and a more confident individual.

Working in Boston Public schools has been a good experience. The academic year 2006-2007 was a very successful year for me as an Educator. Though I did taste success as a teacher in India, it was a start from the scratch for me. Teaching in the US is no way similar to teaching in India. Hence I had to learn new aspects of teaching, assimilate the culture, practice new methods, inculcate the knowledge I gained and be patient for the results. Apart from all the above, I also used my previous experience of working with children in India to help understand the students better.
Last year it was a fresh start for me in many ways. New place, new home, new school system, newly married and a need for a new visa. My patience, persistence, knowledge to deal with new situations helped me succeed.

Being on the H1B visa, I was not allowed to work till I got my visa transferred to my new work place. It took me a month and a half for me to get that done and till then I decided to volunteer in my own class. Though there was a substitute teacher in my class, I decided to do everything.

Experience had taught me that students need some time to get used to the new routine as well as the teacher. Too many teachers mean too many transitions and too much confusion. I had already experienced a disaster last year and I didn't want that to be repeated.

Though I had to spend 3 hours commuting everyday for nothing, I decided to be patient and continue going to school. My day at school started at 8:00am and ended around 5:00-5:30p.m.

I set up the routines, tried to know the students better, used every opportunity to reinforce the positive behavior and also correct the wrong behavior. The group of students I had was very outgoing. They craved for attention and loved visibility. Among them, some were notorious for their hyperactive/disruptive behavior. However, at the end of the year they turned out too be more mature, more grounded and more learned. Though the students looked "smart" for the visitors, it was challenging for them to sound out the words, write a few sentences, solve simple problems in math and comprehend simple texts. Since they loved visibility and fame, I decided to use it as the main reinforcement for the students to succeed. Even a small piece of work was displayed outside the classroom. Every opportunity was used to praise the students in front of the visitors and they were given short- term goals to compete and improve at their own pace.

Thus, I started out with students who hardly knew to write a sentence and ended with students who could frame sentences and spell phonetically. Some could even write meaningful sentences and a paragraph. Moreover, in math, I had 4 of my students reach the benchmark expected of average second graders. I was really proud that 4 of my students out of 10 knew to solve math problems at their grade level. Their confidence levels grew and they loved to come to school. They loved challenges and got involved in the process of learning.

Sometimes scaring the kids is also good:). I had warned the students that if they did not try hard they would be retained in the same class for the next year while their friends would be in third grade. They really worked to do better.

Experience + Knowledge:
Most of the times I had to deal with aggressive behaviors. Having an incremental system of good consequences and bad consequences helped immensely. The students were held accountable and got the consequences they worked towards. Since every behavior had a consequence, it shaped their behavior. They learned to do what was good for them and tried to avoid and if not control themselves when not so good. At the end of the school year, the principal was invited to give away certificates for students who fared very well. Even the students whose performance was average were also given a graduation certificate.

The students enjoyed it the most. The piece of laminated paper with their names on it became their valuable possession at that moment.

Patience + Knowledge + 2*Experience:
Thus, my decision to work without pay was a good one. My knowledge of how to deal with problem behaviors and students with special needs helped.
To top it all my previous failures, my previous experience of dealing with children, knowing what they need and how they react, helped me immensely.

I hope to carry this formula of mine to have more successful teaching years and to help more young people to their maximum potential

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?