I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade mathematics at a rural school called Drishti Dr. R.C. Jain Innovative Public School. I taught new concepts, reviewed old concepts, helped with the final examination process, and assisted students in making creative projects for the school’s academic exhibition. I lived on the school campus, and tutored children after school in math and English. On weekends, I would visit teachers’ homes and national landmarks. I learned so much about the Indian education system and school culture. They truly are like a family at Drishti! I was welcomed with so much generosity and love.
The host culture:
My favorite part about Indian culture is the food! Although meat is not as common in India as it is in the States, I loved everything that I ate. Now, I cook Indian meals for my friends and family at home! I also loved how generous the people are. Students always shared any treats they brought to school, and teachers always welcomed me into their homes with hugs and chai. I also enjoyed learning about the diversity among religions, lifestyles, and values of the Indian people.
The most challenging part of living/teaching in India was the language barrier. The younger the grade you teach, the less proficient in English the students are. However, I made the most of this challenge and learned a few Hindi words and phrases. Also, another challenge was that the Indian schools do not have an abundance of resources like teachers in the US. In math for grades 6-12, teachers heavily rely on the textbook and students struggle with mathematical reasoning. I was able to have a workshop with the math teachers about practical ways they could implement in lessons to enhance students’ reasoning skills.
As a teacher, I learned that I can’t make assumptions for any student. In this profession and as someone who wants to teach overseas one day, I learned more about the value and beauty of diversity and the importance in creating a learning culture where students feel welcome.
I learned that students are students no matter the context and culture. They all struggle in some ways, and they all progress in other ways. They all want to have fun when they learn, and they all must learn the discipline of studying. As a teacher, I learned that I can’t make assumptions for any student. In this profession and as someone who wants to teach overseas one day, I learned more about the value and beauty of diversity and the importance in creating a learning culture where students feel welcome.
Advice for future students:
When you go to your placement, immerse yourself in the country’s culture and the school community. Get to know the other teachers and learn from them even if they do not teach the same grade or content as you. Take time to reflect on your days. Go with less expectations and return with more experiences. Right when you get there, jump right into it. The two months will fly by, and you don’t want to miss a single moment!
A second home:
I am so grateful to have been the first student teacher sent by this program from Tennessee Tech University. I never thought I would have an opportunity like this. It has been my joy to serve Drishti as a student teacher. As a result of the experience, I have gained wisdom in teaching and understanding students. I feel like I have another home at Drishti among the students and staff.