Monday, August 26, 2019

My goals and plans: my journey and the road ahead!

Working at NIRMAN has shaped my career as an educator and has influenced my interactions with the people around me. It’s for this reason that I want to talk a bit about my time at NIRMAN, my goals as a teacher, and the future of education in Varanasi.

From my very first day at NIRMAN, I knew that this was the place I wanted to pursue my professional goals and develop my teaching persona. After interviewing with Nita Ma’am and being offered a position, I began an intensive training that challenged everything I previously knew about education and opened my mind to endless possibilities. The training was difficult. There was so much to learn, and I had never experienced anything like it before. There were quite a few new teachers, and others that had been at NIRMAN for years. And yet, we were all treated as equals. There was no discrimination against those of us who had a lot to learn. Instead, we were met with patience and understanding. My fellow teachers, and Nita Ma’am, were incredibly encouraging. It was clear that they were there to ensure that our classrooms would be run according to NIRMAN’s values.

Since this training, years ago, I have learned quite a bit about the education system – it’s faults and shortcomings, but also the endless possibilities it has for improvement. Ultimately, I believe that education should have a few foundational goals: personality development, equality, and integration. No child should feel isolated or discriminated against in the classroom, regardless of gender, caste, or socio-ecominc status. It is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that this high standard is met, and I believe that NIRMAN does an exceptional job at reinforcing this. 

Unlike many schools in Banaras, we at NIRMAN strive to give every single student the attention they need and deserve. Every single child is prioritized. The teachers work endlessly to create plans for every single day: what will be done in the classroom, what homework will be assigned, and how learning can extend beyond the walls of the school. Further, I work to make sure that all of my students are well-rounded. Because I believe that this is one goal of education – to ensure that all students are capable of entering any field of study and succeeding. 

Working at NIRMAN has also taught me how to identify the greatest problems with our education system as it is. The majority of students do not receive the individual attention that they need, and we at NIRMAN are working hard to combat this. Classrooms should have size limits, and if these are exceeded, schools should hire more teachers to account for the excess enrollment. As teachers, it is our responsibility to ensure that no student gets left behind. Not a single one. At the same time, students must know that there is more to life than just studying. Going to school and learning should be fun, something students look forward to. Because this is how successful individuals are created. 

Teaching at NIRMAN has allowed me to truly grasp the importance of education, specifically a proper education, not only for students, but for teachers as well. If teachers aren’t equipped to deal with the problems of the classroom, students aren’t likely to be as successful. I am truly grateful that I have had this opportunity to develop my own identity as an educator, while also striving to empower the students and children of Banaras.


Jayanti

Teacher and Academic In-charge

Vidyashram-The Southpoint School.

Gandhi Upvan!

In the year 1988, NIRMAN started with three main principles: integration, excellence in education and environmental friendliness. Over all these years, 'NIRMAN team' has been successful in initiating and completing  various environmental programs at the ground level.

I am going to share my experience in this area and what we are aiming to achieve. 

As a part of my job at NIRMAN, I have recently initiated a series of plantation activities that will extend across the city of Varanasi. Starting in July 2019, the Southpoint School, situated near Betawar Ghat, Varanasi, has taken up a plantation project in collaboration with the state government of Uttar Pradesh. The school, which is a subsidiary of NIRMAN, is using its 8-10 acres of land in Betawar and Chhitauni to plant approximately 5000 trees.The goals for this project are vast and significant for the surrounding area. 

The holy Ganga River has been a site of erosion and unnecessary landscaping for quite some time. This project plans to reduce the soil erosion at the banks of the Ganga, encourage the conservation of nature, and restore the natural habitats of the birds that migrate in and out of the region. The plants that are being incorporated into this area are of great variety. There is sagaun (teak), sheesham (Indian rosewood), bamboo, amla (Indian gooseberry), chilbil (Indian elm), and kesar samia (Iranian saffron), to name a few. We have made sure to research and follow the soil binding, medicinal, and soil restoration properties of every one of these plants. 

The majority of this plantation has been done in the Chhitauni area, and we are planning on naming this area the “Gandhi Upvan/Garden.” The area that has been planted near the school itself will be named in memory of its founder, “Sameer Panchvati Upvan.”

We at NIRMAN have also organized a social event to publicize these plantation activities in a week or two. We will encourage children of our school and the surrounding area to plant trees by themselves to foster a greater understanding and awareness of the importance of nature and conservation in our lives. 

Finally, we are simultaneously working on projects that focus on urban forests. More details to come soon.

Atul

Manager (Environment programs)

NIRMAN

Friday, August 23, 2019

Touch to soothe



As a teacher, words flow out of my mind and my mouth at all times. Today, my words aim to express the very beautiful and effective power of touch, that, of gentle touch.

Recently, my role as a preschool teacher started. I love this role. I love the many perks that come with it; the many stories that I get to hear every day from my children, that of horses and of ghosts, of bindis and of mothers, of dogs and what not. These stories are rich and fertile and they keep building up. The light in the eyes of these storytellers and all their affection, gives me strength to keep creating stimulating environments for them, even on days when I am facing my personal demons or physical struggles of this physical world.

Every year, in the month of July, there are new buddies who join us. In the beginning, sometimes they don’t want to leave the comfortable, secure and familiar warmth of their parents. When they are left in this new environment, some are excited to see many friends and many things to do and there are some who are unhappy, missing their mothers much. I am a mother and I know how much my daughter needs comfortable/ familiar arms when she is in distress; every morning after waking up, every time after a fall, after an upsetting situation, all she needs is a hug from her mother or a rub on that hurt, which eventually she will offer herself.

As a preschool teacher, when I face this situation, I use the same principle, to make that child comfortable and feel at home, in this new environment for her. I use my hands, my arms to hold them, or to pat their backs, their heads, their shoulders and so often it does its magic. I have to don many hats in this form. I am a caregiver at times, an understanding friend at times, a playful child at times making the same kind of laughs that they also enjoy making.

In my class, I hold Pradyumn, 3 years old, in my arms because that soothes him for sometime. I let Samriddhi, 3.5 years old, hold my waist when she has had a fight with one of her classmates. As a class, we all have a fist five to test our strength after we have had our tiffins to test if we had some energy after finishing our snacks.

At every step, gradually, I aim to empower them to take control of their bodies, to let them express their emotions safely, to let them master all their life skills; self help routines along with discovering  the joy in learning to read, write and express.

In case you are wondering about Academics, our 3 year olds are preparing for all the work in English, Hindi, Maths, Social Studies and Science by developing their physical, emotional and intellectual skills to study these subjects. They are doing content work orally and through projects while getting ready to write.

The next time when you meet a toddler in distress, offer him a handshake, or a hug, a pat or any thing else that he would like, offer it with trust in your offering and wait for the MAGIC to unfold.


The preschool at Southpoint School feels like HOME for whoever enters there. There are comfortable mats to sit on, the lights and fans provide enough lights just like our homes, with enough room for sunlight and fresh air, avoiding the artificial lights which have become so prominent at many places. The Housekeeping and the other centres have materials made of real things like wood, glass, jute, bamboo, paper, etc and they have different surface and textures and they feel nice and homely. We do a lot of work with clay in creating different objects and creatures of our imagination. We work with sand and with water. It is a world for children. Visit us to know more at N 1/70 Nagwa, Lanka, Varanasi.

Harshita
Preschool Teacher
Vidyashram- The Southpoint School