It was July 2018 when I started working with Involve and my journey has been challenging and eventful. Working with the students every day and mentoring them has given me a sense of satisfaction in knowing that my work is helping drive the growth of the new generation. Every day at work was a new learning experience for me helping me understand the ground reality of how students actually learned concepts that are new to them.
After months of working with schools, I realized that there were certain challenges that
needed to be overcome for us to meet our organizational goals. We realized that our
current content didn’t work as expected in some of the schools, as there existed a learning gap among students from classes 4 to 8, particularly in mathematics. Students were academically not up to the level that they were supposed to be and they needed to go back to their fundamentals in order to have this learning gap bridged. Since we were already in between the academic year, we didn’t have enough time or resources to create the bridge content on our own. Therefore, we decided that I was to make a trip to one of our mentor organizations in Bangalore in order to get trained in this aspect.
In the last week of September, I boarded a bus to Bangalore setting out on a journey of
learning and transformation. As I arrived at Bangalore early morning, a heavy spell of rain welcomed me which was a refreshing change from the hot sunny weather of Chennai. I found a PG accommodation near to the office where I was to stay for a week’s time. After a short nap, I reached the office of our mentor organization – Mantra For Change. It was a huge building and in the office, there were around 30 people with the space being shared between three organizations. The office space was arranged and decorated colorfully without appearing too formal. The creative decorations on the office walls were so captivating that it inspired me to take some of these ideas back home.
I was later introduced to one of their content heads who trained and worked with me for
the entire week I was there. As I sat down and discussed with the content head, she made
me realize how students find it difficult to learn a concept directly from the blackboard.
They need to be able to imagine and visually relate to the concepts they are taught. A new learning methodology was introduced to me where instead of directly teaching numbers and equations from the blackboard, students were provided with different concrete materials like beads and sticks using which they could explore the different mathematical concepts from a practical viewpoint. In the next step, the real objects are pictorially represented.
Once the students practically understand the concept visually and pictorially, the actual
numbers and mathematical symbols are used on the blackboard. This way, students don’t have a difficulty relating to the numbers and equations they are taught, and they
understand it in a meaningful way instead of rote learning.
Since the mentor organization had expertise in innovative learning techniques, they were able to show me a variety of concrete materials such as Counters, Ganith Mala, Place value cards, Ice cream sticks, Long, Flats and Units, Fraction boards etc. to teach various mathematical operations and symbols such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, integers etc. Using these materials, I was able to develop a detailed teaching approach. With all this new knowledge that I gained from Bangalore, I returned home to help impart a better learning methodology to the students.