A Matter of Reflection

P is quiet and calm. Nothing seems to faze her! I once participated in her session, and the kids were really involved and debating on a topic vociferously. P listened and with a quick action held all of their attention. That’s when I realized—she exudes a calmness, but also maintains control.

Before you imagine her as a Terminator (I can imagine her saying: come with me if you want to learn!), let me stop you right there! She is fun-loving and enjoys interacting with the kids. Her journey with Apni Shala began when she took a tour of the organization’s website. She was amazed at the activities and involvement of the children and immediately signed up.

She sums up her first session with the children in one word: nervousness! Looking at her now, you wouldn’t think it. But, that first class, she abandoned all planning and just rushed through her program. She felt that the things she said seemed hollow and without much meaning. She realized that she didn’t have much of an impact, and that she should have been more thorough in her planning. In addition, she learnt something that she carries to this day. First, spend a few sessions building a rapport. The interaction and camaraderie will then come naturally. One needs to be a teacher, as well as a friend.

Her favourite activity involves drama and theatre. P believes that kids kept busy through activity are happy kids, and happy kids open up more, share more, and learn more. She remembers a time when she had to take the kids out on a waste management project to clean the garbage. What fun they had pulling on the gloves and putting on the masks! P was apprehensive about going out in the community and doing such work, but she soon realized how enjoyable it could be with the children. She also fondly remembers another high-impact activity (a reflective one). The kids were given scales on which to report (such as agree, somewhat agree), and she made statements, such as tell your parents the truth, or when you don’t confess something you’ve done. She was amazed to see how honest the children were, and the kids themselves felt they were safe and that they could share their opinions.

P did have one particular interaction with a child that had quite an impact. The child was always rude during the sessions and snapping. P once had a massive argument with the child that ended in a stalemate. P was then told that the girl had had a difficult childhood, and P empathized with her. The child noticed the change in stance from P, and became defensive. Nevertheless, after a few conversations, they began to talk more, about hobbies, interests, and random things. P even gave the child an increasing number of responsibilities during the sessions. The child in turn offered to introduce P to her friends so she wouldn’t sit separately during the session break. This was a remarkable turn-around that taught P so much, particularly about having a certain perspective about kids based on initial interactions.

There is a continuous learning process involves, P feels. This is as much for the kids as it is for the teachers. The toughest thing to acquire, she thinks, is to reach the same level as the kids and be viewed as a friend. Seeking to control them will only alienate them, but befriending them works wonders. P has similar thoughts regarding punishment. Punishment serves as negative reinforcement; instead, simply asking the child what was wrong, understanding it, and explaining that to the child, will help the kid better understand what is wrong in many similar situations.

Her main focus areas up ahead involve enhancing her conversation skills with children in her quest to know them better. She cannot wait to begin implementing new methodologies and activities into her sessions and is raring to go.

If you every need someone cool, quiet, and collected, or someone to control a debate, you could ask her. If you’re in trouble and you need a Terminator though, I’m sure she’d try her best.

PS: P here is our very own Pallavi

Nikhil Pinto

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