The school visit itself….
Tuesday morning we had to get up super early and meet in the lobby of our hotel at 6:30 to get our car to the partner teacher’s school visit. Thank goodness they hired a car for us because if we had to negotiate with an autorickshaw driver, I would be in Pakistan by now! (More on that later too!) Everything large or important or wealthy here is in a compound with a gate, and our school was no exception. We pulled up into the compound just as all of the kids were streaming in for the day. They are required to put their belongings down and then line up with their grade level in a line for their morning assembly.
The morning assembly so loosely resembles our morning announcements, the only thing they really have in common is the word, “morning!” The kids stand at attention, shortest to tallest in front of a small stage. They are lined up from grade 1 through grade 12 and in front of them stands their teacher. A student calls them to attention where they literally “stand at attention” and then he tells them “at ease” and they stand with their feet apart instead of together like when at attention.
Then they say the pledge, sing the national anthem and students read different types of announcements. The student announcements contain national, international, and sports news, a quiz of the day, quote of the day, and these were all chosen and read by students. Then, they sing a school prayer. This is a generic prayer since there are children of all religions there. Indians are very spiritual and though the government isn’t choosing one particular religion, they do not outlaw religion in general from public life like in the US. I took video of all these things so we’ll see I can figure out how to upload them!
At the morning assembly, they presented us with flowers and I had to say some words of welcome and thank you to the students. This school has instruction in English from grade 1 on so though they speak English but I think a lot of times my accent is difficult for them to understand. It was a little nerve-wracking speaking in front of the entire 2000 student body, but it was okay. Right before I went up there, one of the other teachers with me (there were three of us at this school) whispered, they look like a “human bar graph” since they were all lined up in straight lines and all I could think of while I was speaking to everyone was not saying that that is what they looked like! I would also like to mention that we were outside this whole time and it was so humid in the morning that sweat was literally pooling in my shoes!
Our next part of the visit was having tea with the principal. They had food set out for us and we didn’t really talk about anything but just asked them a few logistical questions. Everything is done without computers in terms of scheduling, attendance, etc. We would shut down if we had to do everything by hand again, although I am sure that it what we used to do. Following our tea we had a tour of the school that lasted about an hour. This school has kids from kindergarten (pre-primary they call it) through class 12. Everyone wears a white shirt, blue tie, and blue pants/shorts or skirt if you are a girl. All Indian school children wear uniforms unless they are in private schools. We saw a few kids out of uniform and that was because in the primary school they can wear normal clothes on their birthdays!
We saw all the primary classrooms and in each classroom (except on where they were in table groups) every student was sitting in a desk with another and they were in rows. There are about 50 kids in each class. In every classroom grades 1 through 12 the teacher stands at the front of the room and talks and the kids write notes from the board and they do call out-group responses to teacher questions.More later today when I have time.