My first day at SHLOK

My first day at SHLOK

Have you ever wanted to feel touched, satisfied with a sense of feeling that it is worth the cause and purpose?

Well, this is exactly what I felt spending time teaching English to the grade 3 students at the Puttenahalli Government school.

I met the grade 3 English teachers of the school in addition to the primary English teacher. Based on the discussions with them, I did a recap of grade 2 English to help the kids refresh and recall what they learnt last year. Each session lasted for 30 minutes at both sections and I preferred not to combine the sections as I  felt that managing a large group would be a challenge.

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I tried to make the sessions engaging and interactive which the kids seemed to enjoy. Both sections were different – one was boisterous and uncontrollable while the other was very disciplined but both were equally fun.

Thanks to SHLOK foundation for this wonderful opportunity. I can assure you that spending time with the lovely, innocent, sparkling kids is simply the most addictive feeling in the world!

– Pramodh Manda

The fall of Konanakunte

Dear friend,

this blog post is about one of the major challenges that volunteer organizations face.

Imagine a dear colleague or a friend leaving your organization- this is something that happens to us all the time in offices, the only difference is that in our case each volunteer that drops creates a massive challenge because these volunteers drive the action for us as an organization.

A year ago i think that we started the konanakunte chapter which was located close to our original puttenahalli chapter.

As of June 2014 this chapter may no longer be existent.

The reason is simple

Volunteer base. The base of volunteers is the single largest factor in the success of organizations like SHLOK.

One thing i have noticed that the volunteer base almost always dips, like a wave structure it has a crest and a trough. the only way to overcome this is to constantly reach out to people and grow your base. this might be easier said than done.

To get committed volunteers is not just a matter of chance it is a blessing. these dedicated people drive activities and make organizations like SHLOK relevant and actions measurable in the context of give back to society. I only wish that this tribe grows.

I think that the ways for us to circumvent these kind of challenges is to:

a. Look at launching SHLOK ‘X’ or SHLOK labs- which can be the radical change that kids need- this is something we can do immediately provided we get the funds quickly to be able to launch this model. read the thoughts of our US chapter lead Poonam which showcases what we are planning at this link- here

b. to become a full fledged organization riding on the volunteer base but paying a stipend to interested people- this is more of a long term goal and one which i foresee happening a few years down the line.

The point that i am trying to make is that ‘people make organizations what they are’, with the right kind of people ‘everything that we dream of is possible’

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A happy and purposeful future beckons- ‘will you step forth and be the change’?

2 hours well spent and a journey begun……!

Glaring statistics from the ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) 2013 report –in Karnataka rural schools , only 40- 50 % of standard 5 children can read Standard 2 text . This and books like “What did you ask at school today?” made me want to get a more intimate understanding of the government school. The Shlok call for volunteers for teaching English and Computer Science appeared to be exactly what I wanted- Proximity to home and the possibility of committing time on a Saturday.

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“Was this to be an exploratory visit?” or “Would I be teaching English?” but then “I have no teaching experience!”. The diligent part of me wanted to do some homework but my best friend “no time” ensured that I landed up sans any preparation. “Observer” status was how I saw my role; Ashwiin had other ideas and plunge I did with a 3rd standard class and supportive fellow volunteers. It is true that many of the children could not read complete sentences but it is also equally true that Darshan, Lokesh and Bhargavi could write their names in both English and Kannada and we co created a game of writing our names.

There was a moment where I felt ashamed of myself. I had left my purse and hand phone on the classroom floor when I was called for my teaching debut. “Would it be safe?” I wondered once I was through. I needn’t have worried as the children were definitely focused on the “classroom process” instead of my hand phone.

Milk for all the students (the cynic in me wondered if it was diluted) and the children shutting the classroom windows when school was over were other images that stay with me.

I have resolved to get myself the textbooks and have a lesson plan in mind for next Saturday. Perhaps help the Shlok group with teaching- learning materials and curriculum. 2 hours well spent and a journey begun……!

– Arati Mohanram

Language not a barrier while teaching

Whether you love them or not, being with kids is super fun. My first day at Shlok was no different. 6 of us from Shlok had an important appointment with about 40 naughty kids in Puttenahalli. Our first task – and the most difficult one was to get them to sit down after their happy-go-lucky, top-of-their-voice good mornings! They were about to hear a story about the Lion and a mouse and learn some new big English words that day.

IMG_3148What I have always enjoyed while teaching kids is spotting the mischievous ones. 3 minutes into the class and I was laughing my heart out secretly trying hard to hold a teacher face. But that is the whole fun in teaching. If language was a barrier, I found the kids and me communicating through dumb charades, but getting them to understand the story and teach them something new was the mission.

The children here are not from the most advantageous backgrounds. Parents don’t have the time and money to support sound education plans for their kids. And all this makes teaching in government schools far more difficult. But the good part is the principals and teachers in most of the government schools are very open to help or mentoring the kids. And this is what is helping us get successful.

Every new word learnt, every new story, every new trick to understand better is definitely going to play a part in shaping the way they see things as they grow up. For me, that’s the best use of time ever.

– Juveria Samrin

To give pride and dignity to kids

 

My first day at Puttenahalli Govt. School was of sheer joy…as I always wanted to just go to this school and ‘do’ something….. Every time I drove by this school for six years…..every time…..I said I have to go to this school……and so, when Smitha took me on entering the gates …I felt sheer joy at just being there! What I wanted to do…..well, SHLOK helped me do just that!  Thank YOU!

The  sight of kids sitting on the floor with huge smiles made me want to go and hug each one of them and say…now we are here..we will teach you..help you speak that elusive ..Englishu ….as the kannadigas say!!!!  I remember telling Smitha, those tiny hands had the tiniest Pencils and they were so engrossed in writing ! Here we take so many things for granted!  I had never taught in a govt school here…well…..but  in the Singapore Govt schools where i did teach for a while, they are better than most of our private schools! The  Children here were very enthusiastic…the teachers were very co operative and  we were determined to do our best…what more?

My personal feeling is , they need the basic teaching itself! Some don’t even know the alphabets. Some are very smart! But then , I was keen we do the Phonics alongwith the alphabets so that they can start reading!  It is not going to be easy! Maybe we should start from grade I……by grade III they are a little older…..what do you all think?  Then we are giving them a better foundation.  I am very keen we discuss this in our Saturday CCD meet.  I was discussing with Raghvendra, we should also target grade VIII,IX and X so that they don’t drop out, and we guide them into vocational courses. For this we need to teach them basic functional English. Ultimately, we want these kids so go into the  world with dignity and pride at having achieved some education to sustain themselves and not get into drinking or become labourers etc ……MY own driver studied until 7th and said he left school because he lost interest and today he regrets he can’t even read English.  I truly want every child to have basic education and also English for, we need it,

The enthu all you SHLOK members have, fascinates me!  Long ago on Teachers day one of my student gave me a red rose with a card which had the most beautiful words…I always carry in my heart….he said” A Teacher is not someone who teaches, but makes you want to learn” Thank You, M’ am for being my Teacher……. That has been my mantra ever since!!

Thank You Smitha, Raghvendra for guiding me on my first days at SHLOK.

Vasanti

Awesome Saturdays

It’s almost a year now being part of SHLOK organization.

Got to know about SHLOK from IBM run ODC (On demand community), can recollect for the first time I met SHLOK team in Ashwin’s house. Team was with full of ideas how they can contribute themselves in betterment of English and computers in government school; I can say it was a brainstorming session.

First day in school never expected kids coming to me saying Good morning Sir, welcome, how r u?

I was really amazed with the kind of response from kids, innocent faces and sparkling smiles. Learnt a lot from them, actually I am not a teaching material at all, but these kids made it happen within a year. I got the confidence of teaching…

Many ideas started popping in my mind like teach different things, go digital. Whenever I teach new content / show them digital content I can see joy & happiness in their eyes…. They are like energy packets never get dry.

I never feel like missing the session every Saturday, it’s a kind of give back to society.

Actually my team termed it as Joy of giving… That’s right I feel it every time I go to school.

All the best to SHLOK team, let this cause spread to each and every corner in INDIA and improve our education system and empower our children in English communication and computer education.

-Madhu

Experience beyond Expectations

“Hi, Good Morning, What is your name?” These were the first few lines the little tots came up with, I was shocked to see all of them coming up to me and greeting without knowing me. Those innocent faces had priceless smiles and too many questions in their minds,  they were all so eager to know what I was going to teach them, “akka, are you teaching English?”. The kids weren’t scared to come up to me and ask questions, but I was, I had butterflies in my stomach as it was the first time I stood in front of so many kids to teach, this was the big difference between me and them. There were a few kids responding to what was being taught, few running around and having great fun, few noting down every small thing written on the blackboard…but once they heard the bell go, their faces lit up and they were in a hurry to leave, but before they left, they came up to me and said bye, thank you and a few kids asked “are you coming again next week?”, that was the moment when I promised myself that I will be a part of SHLOK always. The happiness I felt after spending an hour with the kids is inexplicable. I want this to continue…..and it will…

– Keerthi