‘Mission Pragat Raigad’ was planned by Dr Gajanan Patil, Principal, DIECPD (District Institute for Educational and Continued Professional Development)Panvel, under the state-level ‘Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra’ programme, the main aim of which is to understand and solve the difficulties that teachers might face in helping students progress.
After my transfer to DIECPD as a ‘Subject Expert’, I had the opportunity, as part of this programme, to visit some schools.
I had moved from being a ‘Subject Teacher’ to a ‘Subject Expert’. It was in this capacity that I visited a primary school that had two teachers and classes up to the 4th standard. When I arrived, the 2nd and 3rd standard students were busy writing their second evaluation Maths test, conducted for PragatShaikshanik Maharashtra. I could see that they were distracted by my presence when I entered the classroom. They were probably wondering if I was an officer who had come to inspect their school.
Introducing myself, I greeted the teacher and, in order to put the students at ease, I smiled and said, “Please don’t mind me. Finish your test and then we shall talk, play some games. I want to get to know you.” The students seemed relieved and turned their attention back to the papers before them.
I looked at the colourful walls, the paintings hung on them, the various educational toys and games in the classroom.I praised the teacher for all these things, and we conversed about the school’s innovative projects and the problems faced by the students. We exchanged thoughts on how the school management committee and the students’ guardians could cooperate to help digitalise each classroom, in keeping with the GR (Government Resolution) of the renewed ‘Jalad Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra’ programme.
When I asked if she had faced any problems while conducting the ongoing oral and practical tests for Maths, the teacher said, “The 3rd standard students are expected to show objects with and without edges or corners. They are to be given three objects with corners, and two without, like a ball and a carrot. We have all these, except for carrots. I had bought some carrots in the market yesterday but forgot to carry them with me today. So I am unable to finish the practical part of the test. I cannot imagine what to do, as our school is pretty far from the village, and I don’t think it would be right to send the students home for this.”
As a subject Expert, I considered it my duty to help her overcome the problem. So I asked her not worry and that both of us would try and think of a solution. As I looked around the classroom, I noticed some craft objects in a tray. There were items made from paper, clay, and other such materials. I said to her, “That corner looks interesting – I haven’t yet seen the craft items your students have made. Let’s take a look.” I could see that my words pleased the teacher, just as I would have been happy to have someone appreciate my efforts as a teacher.
She immediately accompanied me to the corner and began to explain how she had got her students to make the various items. While speaking, she casually picked up some fruits and vegetables – like a mango, a guava, a radish – made out of clay. As she picked up a red clay object, I exclaimed, “We seem to have found a carrot! So now you can finish that practical, and need not postpone it.”
The teacher, looking surprised, said, “I’d forgotten all about these items here! So what if it is a clay model? It will serve the purpose.” She gave me a grateful smile and, as soon as the students had finished writing their paper, she did the practical part of the test with them. After spending a few more minutes chatting with the students and playing a simple game with them, I left the school.
I analysed my visit and made notes about the positive impact that it may have had. I jotted down the following points:
- I had not behaved in a manner that would put undue pressure on the students or the teacher.
- Instead of formal questioning, I had obtained the information I sought through informal conversation.
- Instead of offering a readymade solution, I had helped the teacher to find the solution herself.
So, for me, this school visit did not simply remain a formal trip to collect quantitative data about “progress”, but it helped me gain an insight into how my new role as Subject Assistant also included being a good Teacher Assistant and Subject Expert!
Blogger: SavitaAshtekar, Subject Assistant, DIECPD, Panvel, Raigad district
Translation & editing: samata.shiksha team