On Tuesday, we woke up to a lovely breakfast. I had eggs, some lovely tomato sauce with toast and a strong instant coffee. The weather was inviting and warm but growing hotter still by the minute. After we had eaten we drove in a Teacher’s car to Purnea School. It was a bumpy ride to say the least but the view was fascinating- we saw cows, goats and street dogs. I noticed palm trees in the distance, lakes, swamps, farmers collecting food and people going about their everyday business.
We also passed stalls and shops on the side of the road, as well as market places and factories. The roads near the market were no different to those in Kolkata; people walked in the street and tut-tuts constantly honked at each other to get some space to drive in the tight roads.
Once we got to Purnea School, the first thing which struck me was how modern it looked; the bright orange and purple on the buildings was truly eye-catching. We were first met by some older children warming up in the school field to as a teacher signaled with a whistle. The students were so obedient to the sound of the whistle and so in sync, that I found it so enticing; I couldn’t stop looking.
Once class started, we then met Samuel the school’s Head Teacher who informed us of his great plans for the school in the future which included a library, girl’s dormitory and an IT room. In the corner of the grass field, I noticed something brown and furry moving and the students seemed unfazed as they walked past.
As I got closer, I noticed they were two puppies, so tiny and it looked like they were hugging to keep warm in this high temperature weather. Their eyes were firmly closed and I moved near so I could get a snapshot. I caught them later wrestling in the cutest way but soon after, I noticed they’re mother looking defensive and uneasy so I backed away so as not to feel her wrath! Samuel told me that she could be very protective of her babies and that it’s not a great choice to go too close to her puppies all the time.
Next, we proceed to get a tour of the building and we started on the roof of the school which was great. On the other side of the school, I could see other pieces of land where families were washing their clothes and allowing them to dry in the sun as well as some cows relaxed in the sun, eating lunch.
We moved on to a lesson observation of a nursery class who were learning Hindi cultural rhymes, followed by a science lesson about plants, where the children identified different seeds and fruits. The students then did a blindfolded task where they had to feel the fruit and guess what it was.
I noticed the teacher was approachable and had clearly taken time to get to know the children well- they seemed to have a very good relationship and they understood the lesson due to the way the Teacher explained it. Before we left, we were told we had to taste a curry flavored fizzy drink called ‘ThumsUp’, which tasted like ‘KA Kola’ to me, with even more added sugar (if that is possible) and a small tinge of curry flavor.
Back at Ranipathra School Amy did her special session on how to use actions in phonics and the Teachers asked her for examples they could use in symmetry and stories. You could really tell how passionate and committed they were to teaching. We then had lunch which consisted of chips, daal and rice.
Next, more of my colleagues Jackson and Michelle did their special session outside on active learning and hands-on approaches to teaching. A fun part of the session was the starter when we were told to introduce ourselves was with an action and the group would copy. The students and teachers introduced a variety of activities which promoted hands on learning like role play.
They also used character voices, facial expressions and body expression. The entire group laughed so loud during the session but more importantly, they understood the aim of the session.
Once the session and mentoring was complete we walked to visit a parent’s home with some of the school’s teachers where we enjoyed tonnes of tasty snacks such as coconut and raisin dip sauce along with cauliflower sauce with hot, freshly baked hot pockets. We then walked back to the school and by this time it was pretty dark, so the teachers guided us there.
We played a quick game of cricket and then after dinner the girls began doing Henna on our hands and arms. It took an age to dry and we were getting tired and cold waiting. But while we waited we had conversations about the TV show ‘My Strange Addiction’ and the boys found a toad in the bathroom! When the Henna was finally dry, it looked amazing and I knew it would look brighter in the morning with help from some oil. Eventually, we went to bed and had a good, warm night’s sleep.