Our Trip to India – The First Official Day

This morning feels like a distant memory and flashbacks spin through my head after this day that was.  At breakfast, all of us – bright eyed and bushy tailed – clambered into our two cars to set out for the day to come. We split into two groups to visit four schools each to begin our work with the teachers.  My car consisted of Simon, Tina, Candela and our amazing representative from STiR, Shubhkiran.

It was a hectic start. We had another education in driving in India and quickly found out that the knowledge of the locals is a lot more valuable than google maps. An hour and a half later, we made it to our first school and, after quick welcomes, were introduced to our first teachers/mentees and their respective classes. Our reactions were immediate – students would stand and welcome us into the classroom and ask us to take a seat. They would speak in beautiful rehearsed script and wait quietly. We had to be quick to realise that we had to allow them to sit. Their respect was so warming and humbling to witness. This continued in every school with each Headteacher opening their doors to us and showing us their worlds.

Time flew by as we navigated from one school to the next through the dusty and narrow roads and it was enlightening to see the limited time we were able to spend with each school and Teacher. Shubhkiran was a force of nature with this. As well as organising our time and pace, she worked wonders with each Headteacher and member of staff. I sat in awe as she emphasised the importance of our afternoon seminars and supporting attendance so that Teachers could get the most out of this week and really connect with their own teaching and learning. Her confidence beamed as she talked to each Headteacher in turn, holding the upmost respect for what they do and their schools.

Before we knew it we had made it to our final destination, City Modern School, where we joined the rest of our Impact Team and exchanged stories of our experiences so far. Common strategies were recognised and problem solving took place as we brainstormed what we would ensure to include in our week of seminars. It was that ‘penny drop’ moment as our volunteers became to understand more about the impact they can hope to make in the rest of the week.

As the teachers arrived for the afternoon, the hall was quickly buzzing with noise and chatter as we took them through the feedback from their lessons. As a teacher, I value the importance of making a connection and building relationships in the classroom. This seemed effortless this afternoon as mentor and mentee began their learning chats talking about the morning and building on for tomorrow. With little prompting, I could hear teachers suggest their own ways forward. It was a humbling moment; understanding how much they valued their own teaching.

The afternoon passed quickly with a revision of the last week of seminar and, as the teachers left to go to their families, we were left with discussion and feedback of our own. Simon and Mark who will be leading the next seminar, have already changed their plans to suit the needs of the teachers from their feedback, focussing on how to make the theory of it work in the classroom.

It’s a reminder that no matter how much you plan and prepare, things can change in an instant as various factors come into the equation.

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