At JSW Foundation Office today, I was lucky to hear what Steven Farr had to say about his life and work on studying highly effective teachers. “Steve leads Teach For America’s efforts to discern what distinguishes teachers whose students in low-income communities achieve dramatic academic growth”. His no-nonsense speech had so many vital points to think about that I took down almost 17 pages of notes within 1.5 hours. He spoke about his life, TFA fellowship experience and most important of all – his Teaching As Leadership (TAL) work.
Towards the end, Sachin Jain, a TeachForIndia 2009 fellow asked Steve about the link between success as a fellow (as a highly effective teacher) and selection. While answering this, Steve remarked that one quality of highly effective teachers is – being organised (especially) in the classroom. A good teacher treats every minute in the classroom as precious and doesn’t waste that time searching for things. When everything is messy and unorganised in the classroom, time is wasted, students lose interest and the teacher tends to get stressed out and ends up compromising. I can identify with whatever Steve had to say about the link between being organised and effective as a teacher. During the first few weeks of teaching, I had slowly gathered up things needed in the classroom, but since they were all not in one place, I would waste time putting them together or finding them when I needed it. Not being able to find the right papers or teaching aids can become frustrating, when you have 40+ eager kids looking at you to perform the next magic trick !
My daily reflections (and passion for uncluttering and being organised) helped me to work on getting organised with teaching aids and resources.The little plastic containers sold on railway platforms , the discarded wooden tray at School and the toolbox from home came in handy to keep things in their place and made it easy to set shop every day. So, these days, in just a few minutes, I can put up the wall clock, the 4 team heads photos on the board, icecream sticks with kids names, the two marble jars, the toilet, water, ‘please stay seated’ signs, the fun corner fridge magnets, light up incense sticks, “weather board” and the day’s agenda and lesson plans. This gives me the time and confidence needed to focus on other important things in the classroom.
Pics: (Left) My teacher’s Box with most things I need during the classroom in one box
(right) At TFI Summer School, May 2010