Teach for India

I can’t make up my mind..

I’ve just come out of the euphoria of good SSC results of my kids. And as with most things, it was short lived and was immediately superceded by other thoughts & they are all over the place!

I can’t make up my mind whether I should push students to get into a great college as opposed to taking the one that is close by. Initially, my first stance didn’t have room for another option & I was ready to fight the world for it. But after talking to many people, they’ve convinced me otherwise. Doubts have suddenly crept in & I’m without a game plan. Questions like what if the student can’t cope up with the travel, what if me pushing parents’ to take these colleges lead them to back off when there comes a need to take extra classes, what if they end up losing focus & not doing well? Was I really ready to risk any of these options by pushing what I thought was a good college?

I can’t make up my mind, what is the line between involvement & intrusion. My decisions – whatever they were – were OKed by parents & teachers alike. My assumption about my kids was that they didn’t have the exposure I did growing up, so I should push them. Therefore, I should have a say in the kind of colleges & streams they pursue. But should I really have a say? Our contexts are 17 years apart & they don’t have the same background/values I did as a student. So, while I could select the college based on my preference, my kids are changing colleges based on where their friends are. I didn’t lose sight of my goal even if no one in college ever bothered with attendance, studies etc. And one of them walks up to me & says Didi, I’m taking commerce “kyunki mujhe easy & chill life chahiye.” With such a mind construct does my exposure angle & therefore the need to get involved fit? Is my involvement constructive or just plain noise?

I can’t make up my mind if peer group is important. I have always been driven by my peer group – friends, colleagues. They have pushed me to excel & I was glad that I was surrounded by such people all my life. But on the flip side, my kids have always been around people who I wouldn’t exactly call good influences. Yet, much to their credit, they’ve managed to be good themselves. By being in search of a better peer group for them am I pushing them towards a more insecure zone? Am I taking them close to a peer group that can get them carried away & start demanding things from their poor parents looking at their counterparts from private schools? For my kids, is having a better peer group essentially an enabler?

And I’m struggling with similar thoughts for each student who passed from my class. And this dichotomy arises from distinct thought processes. This process for them isn’t one of seeking excellence but the one of seeking option with least constraints possible (fees, distance, course, future etc.) And therein lies the problem. The frame of reference is so drastically different that these will never match. 

So, should I give up? Or should I give it a try? I couldn’t make up my mind until one day I decided that in future; I would rather repent about my kids not listening to me than me not having tried!
So I tried with the hope of seeing my kids in colleges that I attended 17 years ago. But I think the more important outcome this discussion should give me is to see them successful in longer term than making me happy for the next 2 years!

Random Musings, Teach for India

On to the next one…

Exhausted, I sat in the car waiting for distance to home move from 20 km to 0 km. When you are in a car & the traffic on the road doesn’t move, there is very little left to do! And despite the exhaustion, my mind decided to take a trip of it’s own. It wandered through all the days that had passed by in the last 2 years. And it started sending signals of comparison – my last 2 years & my coming years. The contrast was as stark as the song of fire & ice!

The first day I joined school, I was surrounded by a throng & I didn’t get time to do my thing. I was that shiny new toy which everyone wanted to play with! Today, I sat alone in the cubicle doing my thing & I longed for someone to hang out with. In TFI, you always find people around so you sorta get used to it.

I was used to being in a room for hours & not having a fan or even ventilation. Today as I sat in centralized AC, I felt like I was in Tundra region & I cursed myself for not carrying my dearly beloved – a sweater.

My days in TFI were planned to the tee & the infrastructure would derail them (no bathrooms, no class, no cleaning etc.). To ensure derailment doesn’t happen, I had to have plan B upto plan Z! Today, I was in a place with excellent infrastructure & yet had no plan!

In TFI, I didn’t learn any new content, yet I found the use of that content challenging (teaching kids what I knew but in a way they get). Today, I was learning about a completely new industry but somehow it wasn’t very challenging (I’m sure challenges will ramp up as time goes by).

For this one, you need context. There are 4 colors which depict different personalities viz. Yellow – dreamers, blue – task masters, green – planners, red – impulsives/emotionals. (You can read about them here) When I was in TFI, I was a mix of Blue/Green – because I had to be prepared with so many plans! But today, as I sat in my cubicle, my closet Red kept looking for a familiar face to smile to, longing for a friendly chat while going home or wanting great company while having lunch. And while all these thoughts kept going through my mind, I passed my school on my way back. That was when I understood the most important factor. 

Last 2 years, I saw no one around me giving their best, so I tried to give my best to my kids – idea being making a difference in their life. Today, I saw everyone putting their best foot forward – idea being making a difference to themselves which was something that I have done myself for 9 years!

I think we are programmed to think/feel the grass is greener on the other side when we attempt something new! I was complaining about everything that was wrong about my school while I was in there. But today, I’m almost missing it.

It’s funny how our minds react to change…

Teach for India

The unofficial last day…

Today 1st March 2017 became the last day of my school..

As expected from the inefficient school management, it was moved up from tomorrow. I was completely unprepared for this & I thought so were the students. But in the last 2 years of fiercely protecting them against such inefficiencies, I forgot how resourceful they are! As soon as it was announced today is the last day (at 12:20 pm when the school leaves at 12:30 pm), the students managed to do EVERYTHING they planned with WHATEVER available resources!

What my students did?

Their uniforms became writing boards – with each student writing a message. They wanted to write on our dresses as well but we didn’t wear the one which we were supposed to. They got water from somewhere & played ‘Holi’ since they won’t be able to play on the actual day (next day being Algebra paper). They got marker refill & used it as Holi colors (thank God, we don’t use permanent markers!)

They wrote notes to me & discussed what to do for the farewell party quite efficiently. Responsibilities were delegated & roles were assigned.

What my students felt?

I wish they had expressed what they were thinking. All I could see was, how can we find the best way to do everything in the given time. Most common theme was to tell me to not cry on the farewell day. Some thoughtful students (who wanted to write on my dress) wrote me notes instead. Here is one sample.


What I did?

I just stood there – looking at all the frenzy around. I wrote on the BMC uniforms of all the students. I gave pens / papers to those who hadn’t any. But mostly, I was a mute spectator of this event. I wanted to shout at them for the water throwing but I refrained from my natural instinct because well; LAST DAY! Lastly, being the hyper-organized one, I did one last discussion about next steps of farewell party & called it a day!

What I felt?

I thought, I would be relieved.. No more rushing out with shoes in one hand & dupatta in the other at 7:10 am. No more checking of papers or dealing with illogical BMC circulars. No more dealing with students answering back, being stubborn OR being rude. But surprisingly, I felt the opposite of it.

I was worried about how they will deal with the upcoming boards. I was sad that I will not have this one place (a class) to meet all my students. I was pensive about what % of my kids after 5 years will call & tell me, “Didi, I have graduated with honors!” But most importantly, I was thinking about if I did anything worthwhile in the last 2 years. I was thinking if I made any difference in their lives OR were they better off without me?

I thought I would choke thinking of all these thoughts & just then Sachin (who wasn’t going to come to the farewell as his last rebellion against me) said, “Didi, aap tension mat lo, mein aa jaunga farewell mein!” And just like that I smiled…

Teach for India

It all starts tomorrow…

The two years now seem like a blur! They did seem unsurmountable while I was going through them (read here of my trials & tribulations), but strangely it culminated quite ‘in order’ (when you expect chaos, even mild disorder feels like order, isn’t it)! 

Tomorrow my class takes their first SSC board exam – their Science practicals! The 2 year journey for me & a key milestone for them is less than 24 hours away! These last few days I’ve been running around for this – collecting journals, smelling pungent HCl fumes & struggling to get that image from a convex lens at 15 cm – to name a few! Obviously, it can’t be a smooth ride as my kids feel the utmost need to add bumpers on the way!
– “Didi, journal ghoom gaya (lost journal which was mandatory for the exam), 
– ” Didi, journal complete hai but cover nahi hai (no brown cover for the journal), 
“Didi, I’m going to Satara for some XYZ funeral so I’ll miss practice practicals. Please adjust know, so that I don’t get lower marks!”
– “Didi, I wrote experiment 4 ka observation table in experiment 6.. Ab kya karu” (interchanged observation tables of experiments & didn’t know what to do)
.. so on so forth.. 

This entire week made me feel like a plumber. Constantly plugging in the leaks in their lives, wherever & whenever they crop up. The leaks are sealed, here’s hoping that whatever seal we’ve applied works well till end of March to give us astounding results…

Leak 1: We just can’t remember. We are blanking out in exams..
This has been a complaint of a significant % of class. So, we decided there is something we can do here. Through the year, we’ve been giving them pneumonics, shortcuts, flash cards etc. to remember. Now it seemed more an anxiety issue so we organized yoga session – mainly focusing on how to concentrate, how to get back focus if you blank out during exams etc. We were very fortunate to have Yoga Siromani Manish Bhaiya from International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre along with his colleagues come n help our students. Read about them here if you wish to conduct some sessions for your students.

Glimpses from the Yoga session

The session went very well with basics of stretching & breathing exercises taught to 80 odd students. It was heartening to see that the next day one of the students actually kept the pen down & did an exercise to try n remember what she had forgotten.

Leak 2: Exam fatigue…
7 prelims is too much & I get it. But the school just refuses to understand that. So, we decided that we should be the sound of reason & told kids to take the last prelim “lightly”. Voilà! The people who wanted to take it lightly or bunk were the ones who needed the most practice 😦 So, we managed to hold the last prelim in a differentiated manner to avoid exam fatigue & give good practice!

Leak 3: Lack of a lab throughout the year
When getting a class is an issue, you can hardly expect students will get to conduct science experiments in a lab. Teachers said, “They’ll just mug up the experiment & write.” After a lot of cajoling, pushing through – they got to see the science lab & us performing experiments (they had a firm belief that kids aren’t sensible enough to handle chemicals themselves). Up side, I was so excited to do labs after 18 years 🙂

There were many more things along the way but without context they won’t make sense so not listing them here. The last few months have been grueling – both for the teachers & the students. But don’t they say, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny” and we really hope that in these 41 cases we do achieve something brilliant. In the next month, do keep us in your prayers – it’ll give us enough blessings to cruise through the exams unaffected!

Random Musings, Teach for India

#tfifellowship – it’s not for the faint hearted!

#tfifellowship is demanding & is not for the faint hearted! The sheer time, committment & mindspace it requires is mind boggling. As I started fellowship, I knew that the challenge I was here to seek was meaty enough! But in the past 1 year 10 months, I would have concluded that it was more an emotionally exhilarating journey than the one stressing me physically.

With efficient self & time management, I never found myself in a position where I was unable to cope up with my work. But I believe I jinxed this myself & God thought, well let’s stress her brawn now more than her brain!

Expose the body to grime & dust!
You will emerge stronger, this process you trust!

My school when we started tenth

April 1 the school decided to go under construction. “We’ll move, we won’t move ” yo-yo moved on the whims & fancies of authorities in-charge. After about 5 months of vacillation, logic didn’t prevail. We were asked to teach while the construction work was going on. The arguments like “there are loose live wires dangling, bamboo erections have become students’ Everests to surmount & the ceiling can collapse on ground floor if the heavy machinery works on the top floors” just weren’t convincing enough for taking any action! We unsuccessfully tried to make these as inhuman & inhospitable conditions of work, but we were told the only way the authorities will take action is if the slab falls on one of the students (falling on teacher would just not cut it)! I couldn’t pray for that now, could I?

In the last 2 months, I have no class. The make shift class given to me has the capacity of 15 & seats 29! It’s beside a toilet which is used with no water connection so a slight whiff of air post recess makes it unbearable to sit. 

But what doesn’t kill makes you stronger! I’ve circumvented the problem of infection (throat, nose, eyes) due to excessive inhaling of dust (cement, brick, pop, mud etc)! My nose has developed an ability to withstand worst of smells thanks to the last 2 months.

Teaching ain’t a piece of cake. 
There ain’t no rest, there ain’t no room – there’s lot at stake!

With little regard for human life, you can hardly expect any regard for nature’s call now, would you? So, quite obviously for a significant period of time we worked from 7:30 am to 12:45 pm without a bathroom break. Naturally, my bladder has now developed super human strength to store ‘stuff’ & my body can survive without water for longer periods of time (a desert expedition should be next on my travel plans). In the last 2 months, we have a bathroom which is used by students after 10. Miraculously, my body can now even time it’s nature’s call 🙂 What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!

It don’t matter if you’re black or white
Never get in the middle of a cat fight!

A valuable lesson on encroachment was taught to me by my HM. In absence of a class when I went to her, the solution given was come earlier than school time and occupy this class. Don’t leave till I come to school & I’ll work out the details to make the class yours. Surprisingly, the tactic worked (she just didn’t come to school that day) & we got the class. 2 HMs fought like cats & I thought I was the mouse who ate all the cheese. Little did I know that the BMC-BMC bond runs deeper than BMC-TFI bond. Just like that both the cats pounced on this poor mouse & gave us the aforementioned puny class. But I have a class, who am I to whine! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Writing papers is a part of student’s life
Checking them is teacher’s strife!

“These students will study only if you conduct tests.” That’s what we were told! So, against our better judgement we went ahead and had 5 prelims for them (the other BMC class they handled had none btw). Net result, almost every 10 days 90 papers were generated for me to check. And the students ensured that their writing was consistently bad resulting in poor eye sight for me! After checking tons of papers in record breaking time (thanks to husband & sisters who I bribed/bullied to total marks or check objectives or enter marks in tracker etc.), I’m with the same list of passing & failing students but a different power of my lens! By now you know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

TFI told us that teaching is our only super power! But little do they know, these experiences have created Sharmili version 2.0 – Sharmili with a stronger nose, bigger bladder, encroaching abilities & higher eye power!!! I told you – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….

Teach for India

New hopes.. New year…


As I sat listening to Californication & checking papers, I had this urge to crib about the sheer amount of papers getting generated every fortnight due to multiple prelims (about 100). And very naturally, I did what every normal person in this position would do.

I published a post on Facebook cribbing about my plight & instantly got likes on it!

To take a break from checking, I decided to surf for a little while & Google alerted me that it was Savitribai Phule’s 186th birthday today. I knew about her but since it was my ‘surf time’, I checked a few more details about her. I was awed by her monumental work in various fields (read more here). I realized that I am in a position to crib about checking papers because of all the hardships that she had faced. I find myself whining about no bathrooms in my school, dust allergies because of ongoing cement work etc. And then I tried to fathom the juggernaut determination she had to get up & come to school EVERYDAY when human/animal feces were hurled at her! Just reading about her, made me feel inspired. So inspired that I wanted to make her sacrifice worth it by doing the best I can with the education I received! The first woman teacher of India has given me hope that teachers can change the way students and parents think about the role of education in their lives. While I mulled over this silently, I realized that I really want my kids to know her story too. Because, it is a story that will

  • Teach them to appreciate things they have taken for granted – like being in a class having girl majority (26 girls & 15 boys)
  • Give them determination – to surmount all difficulties & persevere till they get what they want (especially since they are writing papers everyday this becomes paramount)
  • Urge them to respect each other & be more empathetic of what they are going through. I have often found that the worst enemy of any woman is almost always A WOMAN. It could be a lady boss, women at home or women who you socialize with. The bonding I see between the guys of my class IS NEVER exhibited any girl – even those who call themselves ‘best friends’
  • Finally, make them give their best shot. Because though they are not fighting for all women of India – they are fighting against those grandmothers who said don’t send her to school, those mothers who said homework is not as important as home work (household chores) & those fathers who gave Rs. 20 to the brother as pocket money & Rs. 10 to her…

My surf time is long over & the papers are still stacked but Savitribai after 186 years managed to plant a small seed in me without even trying. Here’s hoping that I do something with my life that one day on my 186th birthday, my story helps plant such a seed in someone!!! Too ambitious isn’t it… But I believe that

How high I aim, How far I reach

It all depends on me….

Teach for India

Purpose and Potential


On a historically monumental day (26/11), I had a session @TFI (#teachforindia) on how to cope up with adolescents.

Why did I attend this session? Because at 34, I’ve forgotten what it was to be an adolescent or how to behave like them! And if you read the issues I’ve been facing lately (read here), this session was sort of the need of the hour! Fast forwarding to the end of the session, I don’t know why I expected that I’ll get something like ‘10 ways to deal with adolescents‘ OR ‘quick guide to solve adolescent issues of your class‘- because I didn’t get any! Instead, like most sessions @TFI, I ended up questioning myself – whether purpose & potential of one’s life get defined by academics? 

In most sessions at TFI, I’ve heard people say that if you had to choose between behavioral development in kids & academic development, prefer the former! A staunch belief in #TFI ecosystem seems to echo ‘make them better human beings‘ as opposed to ‘make them smarter students‘! Obviously, I’m not suggesting that we make them smarter students at the cost of being good human beings. But at this stage of life, where hormones are doing disco – with temper tantrums, look conscious behavior, unexplained opposite gender attraction is rampant – can we not use academic excellence to fight all these complexes?

A lone warrior, in all those sessions – I argue my case every single time since I know how single-minded academic focus helped me in my life! Unsurprisingly, this session concluded that a non-academic goal (sports, dance, etc.) will help you deal with adolescent kids & I found myself up in arms with the speaker. An accomplished Gandhi fellow, his vast experience couldn’t be overcome by my academic arguments! His belief after such extensive work in this sector was much stronger than mine. And his final argument silenced me completely! “An engineer & MBA; yet you are here in TFI while your friends are in banks, consults etc. So, which academic achievement fits your current purpose?”

If I had figured out my purpose, let’s assume temporarily that it was making money / being ambitious / being at a key position in an organization / starting a company etc. – then I wouldn’t be teaching 41 kids in tenth today. Moving to the non-materialistic spectrum of purpose, if it was being a good human being / leading life comfortably etc. then I wouldn’t be on a lookout for a challenging job post this stint! Moving to my academic-achiever friends, had any of them found their purpose, then I should have had a list of friends who didn’t crib about their jobs, who didn’t experience ‘Monday blues’, who think they are at the right place in their life – but that list remains empty!

With academic excellence as a constant purpose in the earlier stages of life, I feel dazed at penning down my purpose now in a corporate setting! Ironically at 15, I’m asking my kids to pen down their purpose & with board exams looming over, getting xx% is becoming theirs. Is this going to bring more purpose-less people in companies in the next 7 – 10 years?

While I ruminated on this, I found this graphic online. This gave me hope! I know my potential & my passions. As soon as the search for life-purpose ends, then I’m set to change this world 🙂

Because by being your revolutionary self, you can bring about a revolution through your kids! Amen!!!

Teach for India

#Indiagivesitback or does it?

Source: https://goo.gl/images/wezogV

The momentous news I heard a few days ago made me proud to be an Indian. There were many emotions I experienced reading about this, talking about it, watching it.. However, exasperation wasn’t one of the emotions I ever thought this event could invoke. 
Allow me to explain! We at #TFI, have always been encouraged to make our children current affairs aware & socially responsible – both as important as academic education. So, naturally when something so huge happens we decided to have our kids find out & talk about it. However, this discussion penetrated some deeper rifts & it became a Pandora’s box we couldn’t close. #Indiagivesitback now became #studentYgivesitback, #studentSgivesitback, #studentVgivesitback etc.

With an equal division of Hindu & Muslim kids who are adolescents – a random remark sparked world war 3 in my class. Statements like, “Arre him logon ne un Pakistaniyo pe bomb daala”(We bombed Pakistan), “Ab toh un logon ki vaat lag gayi” (The people in Pakistan are now in jeopardy), “Aee, Paki kahin ki” (calling names to Muslim kids) etc. were said in the heat of the moment. These statements obviously elicited strong reactions from the Muslim students who became defensive, went offensive & asked me to change their places etc. Suddenly, the class became 2 camps & just like that; they even had a leader for each camp. Mind you, unlike #JNU #Kanhaiya case – these leaders weren’t the instigators but in fact the dormant ones (though the smartest in the group). 

Such severe were the ramifications, that post this incident, if I yelled at a Muslim student, s/he would point out the Hindu student making the same mistake instead of apologising for his/her own! That’s when all the #tfifellows (ex & current) held an intervention. We emphasized on religion being an enabler (not something that makes you fight), we stressed on the value of self control (name calling, arguing only leads to deterioration of the problem) & finally we underscored that the last 4 months should be spent valuing each other & focusing on academics (instead of bickering like 5 year olds). 

Obviously, only having this one session won’t work as we are battling the opinions that they have been brought up with. I’m sure some of them have been told not to fraternize with the “enemy” in their houses. Some of them must be told that stay away from “bad influence” of the class etc. So many times my students’s parents have asked my caste & never my qualifications as their wards’ teacher.

So, when it comes to education in a secular class, should we speak about patriotism? Are Indians prone to become religious fanatics under the guise of being nationalists? 

The biggest question that comes to my mind post this incident is, “Can multi religious identity of India become it’s strength or is biggest weakness?”

Teach for India

When government officers do their job…

Here is a real time sequence of events that happened because a ‘surprise’ inspection by the big and mighty took place in my school. The school epitomized an educational haven today – sadly something it should have already been in the first place!

7:20 am – a group of 4 authoritative individuals walk in the school

7:22 am – teachers rush to all classes asking them to assemble for common assembly (done for the first time this year. Many classes choose to not do it, we conduct assembly in our class)

7:30 am – students return from assembly. The teachers who are wont to walk at a leisure pace after this were seen hurrying inside (only to be stopped by inspectors & grilled on name, subject taught, timing etc. – they were sitting just at the entrance so no escape)

7:45 am – attendance done (generally done after 9:00 am). The blackboard by now had a thought for the day, a detailed attendance box in addition to usual date & day.

8:00 am to 9:00 am – teachers who generally sit in the office & have tea or do paperwork are seen teaching. Classes are noisy – not from talking but from constant revision of concepts orally. No student is seen loitering in corridors. Teachers’ not present are marked on CL (is this done every time, I cannot say!)

Cleanliness was epic. The cleaning ladies visited every class & corridor sweeping. The toilets (only 2 for the entire school) were cleaned frequently. The hustle bustle in school reminded me of an extremely industrious setup.

9:00 am to 10:00 am – TFI teachers generally take over. But the inspection of BMC teachers was still not done so we waited n watched. For the first time in 1 year 3 months, we were ‘vella’ (no teaching time) & BMC teachers had excessive teaching time! I genuinely felt weird & I’m sure so did they!

Finally got a lecture & an inspector walked in our class. A few questions later, a visibly impressed inspector says, “Can everyone speak in English in this class?” Obviously my over enthusiastic class responded with an overenthusiastic YES! 

While she was moving out, she asked me why cleaning equipment was kept in my class. Now that were kept in my class since time immemorial & I’ve been wanting to get rid of them. But with no locked rooms available, apparently my class was the only place to keep it. Once that question was raised, within ten minutes of that – my class was cleaning equipment free. 

This day was quite monumental for me.

10:00 am to 10:30 am – Recess. General chaos was replaced by orderly movement of kids. The kids were back as soon as the bell rang (at the risk of repetition, this was a new thing as well).

10:30 am to 11:00 am – there was supposed to be an inspection in my class so a BMC teacher sat through my lecture. I was supposed to stop whenever someone entered.

11:00 am onwards – I saw the powerful group leaving. I was sure that the whole school will come back to ‘normal’ in no time.

I gave a smile to the inspector as she walked away & internally wished, “How awesome it would be if every day was an inspection day!”

Teach for India

Power of fear & my students…

Any leadership position has 5 different kinds of power – Coercive (induce fear), Reward (show the carrot), Positional (being higher in hierarchy), Expert (because of skills/experience) & Respect (trust, respect). It is very easy to use the first power but it is very short term because – there is only so much you can scare someone! True (& long term) power comes from the last one – where you have been a role model & people respect you – not because they have to but because they want to…

Why am I being so pedantic & talking about leadership? Because my orientation @Teachforindia happened with them telling me (harping/underscoring/ingraining – you get the point) that Teaching is Leadership! Obviously a skeptic – I didn’t believe it until I experienced it first hand!

When I started teaching IX B in June, I already had positional power (It was a TFI class for 5 years). Soon I realized that my kids were scared of me. I remember reveling in the knowledge that my kids were scared of me! Although, I believe it was just the right amount of fear which helped them excel in their studies as well as not disturb me while teaching!

But then, slowly I had to move things in class. Fear that you will fail tenth wasn’t proving enough (much like a boss inducing fear of losing job). So, I had to supplement it with rewards – ‘PlayTime for top 10’, ‘Surprise gifts for first 3 ranks’ etc. It did work but how many gifts can you give right! I realized then that unless they take ownership of their own performance – all external stimuli would be ephemeral.

Soon, I started doing something different with no purpose other than academic excellence! I started extra lessons for lower standard topics which they were weak in. There was an administrative issue because of which we had to sit in a class without benches for 15 days (teachers had chairs) & we chose to sit with them. Kids give me puzzles during breaks & I solve them with as much sincerity as an excel I work with. This continued & just like that I felt the ‘slight’ power movement – from 1st to 5th! It was the day when I came late* to class. The students had already finished their assembly, removed books for lecture 1. I walked in & they said, “Didi, you have to write an essay on xxxx because you are late”. Not stopping at that, they even checked my essay & gave me feedback as I would give them.

* We have a rule that students who come late to class – write an essay/letter etc. as punishment & on completion sit in class.

Why this indicates the transition of power?

Because, if only positional or coercive power was acting in my class – they wouldn’t have dared to ask me to write. Why expert & respect because not only did they tell me to my face that “Didi, your essay was perfect” but from that day on I see students either running to make it on time or if they are late – accept the ‘Topic of the Day’ with grace & without any excuses!