Anam Palla is a 2011 Alumna and currently works on the Teach For Pakistan team with 2012 and 2013 Fellows as their Academic Coordinator. Anam taught Math and Science to classes 6, 7 and 8 girls in Akhtar Colony, Karachi.
When I first entered their classroom I was shocked and astonished – the reality of the achievement gap hit me when I saw these third graders struggling with the first word that was written on the paper. “Do as much as you can,” I said as they started blankly. They could not read at all!
Sitting in our offices comfortably, we sometimes forget what the education emergency means for our students, communities and eventually our country. These classroom experiences not only humble us, but also ground our work in reality and make us more outcome-focused.
Today, I got an opportunity to see for myself the literacy program 2013 Fellows Asif Hassan and Salman Rajani have since initiated with their 3rd and 4th graders. The class was buzzing with excitement as each student was eagerly repeating after their teacher how to combine the sounds of ‘ra’ and ‘o’ and writing in their individual Jugnoo [a basic Urdu and English literacy program] books that were provided to them by Asif and Salman. Asif led the class while Salman went to students to help with individual queries.
2013 Fellow Salman Rajani working one-on-one with his student.
2013 Fellow Asif Hassan working with his most struggling student one-on-one. He spent more than 40 minutes with this student once everyone else left!
A student negotiating with Asif to get more class points. The red, blue and green chips are awarded to students during the day and a total of those is recorded at the end of the day.
As much as these students enjoy learning, they also love making noise and distracting others. One minute of ‘nothing to do’ and the students go ‘Hallelujah’! Handling them with their various antics, like the 5-4-3-2-1 count, is definitely not an easy task, especially after a hectic day of teaching rigorous academic content. Hats off to these guys for doing this with so much energy, day in and day out!
What I enjoyed most was that each student was eager to complete their work and get maximum points from their teacher. Asif checked and marked the work of each student. Only after that they could leave. Both Salman and Asif then worked with the struggling students until they understood and completed their work.
This one hour was the best hour of my day because it left me inspired and re-oriented me towards the work that we at Teach For Pakistan do.
I wanted to share a couple of quick learnings from today for all teachers:
- Never ever give up on your students. The most struggling students today could be high achievers six months from now.
- Play on your strengths and on each other’s strengths when working as a team. Some of us are better with projecting our voice and others can be stronger in one-on-one interactions. Some of us are great planners, while others execute more smoothly. All skills are needed and essential. Leveraging our strengths makes our weaknesses irrelevant.
- There always is a way to work things out. It is not about working more, but working differently!
Bilal Afzal Khan is a 2012 Fellow at Teach For Pakistan and is currently teaching Maths to classes 8, 9 and 10 in Roshni School, Lahore. He graduated from the Lahore University of Management Sciences with a Major in Economics and Political Science.
Bilal was disappointed with his student Shaheen’s performance in his Math class. He called her mother in for a meeting to express his concerns and upon further discussion he made a startling discovery. Shaheen had fallen from the roof of her home almost three years ago, and had since faced many problems and suffered from a psychological disorder. She now failed to retain concepts in her mind. Bilal decided that he would not give up on her and pushed himself further to help her develop and succeed at Math.
Bilal invested more time in this particular student and introduced her to mental exercises while practicing simpler concepts. She soon became more focused on her studies. Though she took longer than her peers to learn new concepts, she worked hard, and Bilal started to see improvements in her scores. When her end of year board exam results came out, Bilal was delighted to learn that she not only passed her Math exam but had performed well in all other subjects.
Bilal says, “If I had not availed the opportunity to join Teach For Pakistan, it would have never been possible for me to transform her life in this short period of time.”
Fazil Maniya is a Teach For Pakistan Fellow in the 2012 Cohort. He teaches maths to classes 4 and 5 in Karachi. Fazil graduated with a Computer Science degree from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi.
In this video Fazil talks about the powerful impact a teacher has on his/her students as a role model. By embodying and exemplifying them, a teacher can shape the values and mindsets of students in the classroom.
1. Re-read emails before pressing the send button!
2. Leave the CEO Crown at home….
3. Don’t let work get to your head….
4. Don’t let people catch these ‘hard at work’ moments…
5. Continue to be well organized about the most important matters….like food!
6. Find a more discreet way to pass crucial work notes…
7. Continue celebrating the small things…
8. Don’t disturb your boss during her most important task of the day….lunch!
9. Continue to love and enjoy your work everyday!
10. Stop using people to spell out ‘TFP’…
11. Continue to keep up with the ‘cool’ trends….
12. Keep up the hard work…
13. Keep diligently following the ‘all work and no play…’ mantra!
14. Apply for the 2014 Teach For Pakistan Fellowship! 🙂