I haven't written much about the school, because even after three weeks my time there seems very much in flux. I've been working with the 8th standard almost since my first day in Phaltan and have slowly added more classes and groups as the school has figured out what to do with me.
Now I'm with the 8th standard Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; with the 10th standard Monday-Friday; with the teachers working on conversation for three or four class periods a week; and spending two or three periods a week tutoring a young woman named Shalini who has just started working with the Apli Shala, a supplementary school in the poorest area in town. I'm generally at the school from 9:30-12:45, when I bike home for lunch, and then I return from 1:45 to 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
Generally, 1st-4th standards have class in the morning and there are two teachers to each class. The 5th-9th standards run from 11-6 pm, and the poor 10th standard kids have class almost all day, including Saturday.
I work with Maxine and (more commonly) a man named Raman Balkar in the 8th Standard English classes. The classes run for 90 minutes with a five-minute break in the middle. Usually, we spend the first half of the class working as a full, 33-student, group and then we break up for small group work after the break. For example, the huge rainfall became the unofficial theme of everything for about a week after, so we recently spent the first half of class coming up with vocabulary and phrases about rain, and the second half in small groups trying to turn that vocab into correct sentences.
We just finished my first project, a wall-posted newspaper called the “KNB Bulletin.” We broke the students into six groups to write on what they considrered the biggest news stories at the KNB: the rain, the construction for new classrooms, the two boys which just jointed the school from a smaller town called Aina, the notebooks the school has started producing, the exam results, and me.
The two boys from Aina, Mahesh and Sanjay, are in the second row.
Prinali and Akshia were really excited to type up their finished articles on the school’s ancient computers.
See their uniform colors? That was Maxine's little joke.