(One phase of my life was ending and another was beginning
The transition from being a student to a facilitator was making me happy as well as scared.
Scared because I constantly thought, whether would I be able to do complete justice to this responsibility?)
On my first day,I travelled for almost 2 hours to reach school, revisiting all the learnings and trainings I had received in past one and half months. I was preparing myself to step into the classroom and meet the children.
While entering the school,I saw the walls colourfully painted, posters across the soft-board & some also had inspirational quotes. Seeing the students play in the corridor wearing the school uniform, which I had worn all my school life, took me back to my school days. I entered the staff room saw teachers & Head-Master busy with their work. Some looked at me and some smiled at me. I was introduced to the staff and then I headed to the class and I was still nervous.
Entering the class, I saw faces with smiles,curiosity & some with confusion. I smiled at the class and introduced myself in the best way I could. In return, I got lot of questions, I answered all their doubts & queries. One student asked me what do we call you? I told them you can call me anything you feel like.Their questions fought all my nervousness and for that moment Mr.Nervousness rested at peace.
I asked them to sit in a circle, some heard and some ignored my instruction.Rest of the day went in balancing between managing the class. The first session was planned with full energy and excitement. However, some students chose to share their own ideas and thus not do the activities as per the plan.The class got over and I was left with the thought, that my class was problematic & my work was not easy.
(I went into the classrooms with lot of desires,
Lately I realized these are not just kids but a challenge,
With whom I have to spend a whole year,
I was getting worried thinking of this.)
Each day when I went to my sessions, my hope was that my connections become more strong with my students. Someday I tried talking to them, on other days I played games they liked; but nothing helped much. So I started speaking to my colleagues about the scenario in my class. I got many suggestions which I used in the class, some worked, some didn’t . In one of our training session (Narrative Practices) we learnt about externalizing the problem, which means people are not the problem, the problem is an external factor. That session gave me another perspective about my class that my students are not the problem there is just some other factor which we need to identify & resolve. I spoke to my mentor(in our organisation we are assigned mentors for personal and professional growth and support) and he helped me understand that maybe taking help of the previous year’s facilitator might help.In the next session the old facilitator joined me, that day we sat and spoke about stories, stories of the student’s life, story of my life, story of our life.
The class was fun & intense, a lot of students shared their stories; stories of their home, their interest, their passion,stories about them. We all got the chance to speak and to know and connect to each other. That day was better than rest of the days. Students were happy to see their old facilitator. While leaving the class some students came and said, आज पहली बार किसीने हमसे हमारे बारे में बात की, थैंक्यू दीदी ( Today for the first time someone asked us about our self, Thank You Didi)
(Maybe whom I thought were a challenge, are just little souls, who are searching for belongingness)
Slowly slowly “My bacchas” (मेरे बच्चे) and I started knowing each other,which helped me understand their school context a little better.
Once my class was very energetic, so we all settled and had a conversation(the intention was to revisit the class norms) where I told them that it was okay for them to have fun but we must not hurt others feeling while enjoying. So we discussed on “Norms”, why do we follow norms, is there a need to follow norms, do they want to change their classroom norms, what norms do they want to have in their class. Then all of us decided to make our own norms for the class and after that we had a deal – if the class goes well and the norms are followed then I will have to play a game or dance with them in the end. I agreed. One of the kids said “Didi aap toh humari hi taraha ho, maza aaega jab hum saath me masti karenge”. ( Didi you are just like us, it will be fun to be with you). This made me smile.
(These little souls are not only in search of belongingness. They are also searching for someone who is like them, someone who will understand and accept them.)
After every session, I made a conscious effort to maintain the norms made by the class. The class started going well and the students got what they wanted.There were still times when the girls and the boys would fight with each other, but all I had to do was show them the deal and they would get back together. after the session we had one on one conversations, where we shared our stories and life experiences.
Everytime the school gets over most of my students walk with me to the station, then they say , दिदि सम्भल के जाना,बाहर चोर गाड़ी घूम रही है,आपको ले जाएंग ( Didi go safely , otherwise the police van will take you with them.) and then they would laugh,say bye and leave.I have got my happy place. A place where I can be me, nobody is going to judge me, we all learn together, have fun together & stand together in tough times. I facilitate sessions and they teach me life hacks to make my life easy. They have taught me how to not complicate my life. It’s fun to be around them and yes our deal is still on. My colleagues and students have made me see the potential in me. Now, I wait to meet my students everyday, the way they laugh when I crack lame jokes, the way they empathize when someone is low, the way they bring out the child in me is so beautiful.
(While leaving the house for school, i thought i’ll go and teach the students something,
Who knew I’ll learn from them and come back home,
Who knew in disguise of these children my childhood would return.)
About the author: Preeti Baghel joined Apni Shala as a programme fellow after finishing her Graduation in Psychology. When she is not in class building life skills with children, Preeti enjoys dance and expresssing herself through poetry. She also represents herself as the founder of SHOR Poetry Club.