Knowing children, a surprise at a time!
Knowing children, a surprise at a time!

Knowing children, a surprise at a time!

– Monali Awasarmal

On the morning of 21st September, as soon as we entered our classroom, we saw a note posted on the wall, which said, ‘Joote Chappal side mein rakhe’. The class was swept and clean. I was stunned. It was a pleasant surprise. My students had already distributed cleaning responsibilities amongst themselves and wrote a set of rules for the class. “I have to change my whole lesson plan now”, was the first thought that came into my mind. Because I had written a lesson plan to convince and make the students think regarding the importance of classroom culture and rules using Bloom’s taxonomy ( a tool used for classroom planning), only to find out that my kids are not only convinced about it but also took ownership of it. How did this happen?
We have been trying to set a classroom culture to have an efficient and smooth learning experience for all children. As we go and teach students close to their homes and not in a school building, naturally a classroom culture needs to be established. Our idea is to have a classroom culture where students are respected, empowered and comfortable. Because learning happens the best when everyone feels free and safe. To develop this, we had our first session on classroom rules and values in the month of June when this learning journey had just begun. It was quite a difficult session to conduct because these children were never asked before to think about what they want to learn and how they want to learn and how they want their classroom to be. So their responses were incoherent and everywhere. We had to keep bringing them back and guide their thoughts. We came up with a few rules that were necessary at that point with a lot of push and guidance. We wrote these rules on paper and posted them on the wall, only to see all these papers torn away the next day. 
We knew that setting up a classroom culture isn’t a task of a day or two. It is an everyday process. And for our kids, probably a lot more. On 20th September 2021, after almost three months of this journey, we felt the need of reiterating and revising classroom culture. I told the students at the end of the day that tomorrow we will be having a classroom culture session where we will decide and distribute responsibilities of keeping the classroom clean and set certain rules for students and teachers both. 
I entered the classroom the next day with the same expectation of taking the process a little further. But some things have definitely happened in the past 3 months, which led the children to take an initiative that I didn’t expect. To be surprised in class is the biggest wonder a teacher can receive. It’s been more than three months since I started teaching at the Bhadi Pipla hamlet. It has been a journey of getting to know the children, them getting to know us, understanding each other’s needs and ways, outlooks and then the process of learning together which involved having to learn and unlearn many things for both the students as well as us the teachers. It would be too early to say that this process has made an impact but it definitely has made an impression. To realize that your students are way ahead of you is such a joy. We spent the rest of the day writing and deciding more rules for the class which included rules for teachers as well. Very innocently my tiny children set rules for us like – “Wear good clothes to school, comb your hair while coming and teach us every day.”
I wrote something about making an impact earlier. I am very proud to say that my students have impacted me. Impacted me to realise that kids learn and absorb in ways we sometimes cannot predict or imagine, that kids are always ahead of adults and they don’t wait to take ownership of things they believe in. I have learnt a great deal from them today.

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