Teaching 6th grade students is something I never saw myself doing. I wouldn’t consider myself a teacher at Muktangan but this is the closest I’ll get to being one. I first heard about Muktangan last summer when my uncle Don had a meeting with them. He told me that I’d get free lunch at Bombay Canteen if I went with him. When I heard about Muktangan I thought what they were doing was great but didn’t put much thought into it after. Fast forward a year later and I am teaching a group of 6th grade students at one of the Muktangan schools in Lower Parel and I love (almost) everything about it.
Having fun on Muktangan commute
The first thing that caught my attention at Muktangan was how well the Muktangan teachers handled the class. Some of the techniques they use include the “sequence repeating game”.The teachers perform a series of actions, for example tap tap clap. And the students follow. After doing this for a few minutes the class goes pin drop silent within seconds. Another way the teacher gets the classes attention is by singing. The teacher sings “can you hear my speaking voice” to which the students reply “yes we can yes we can”. And then once again the class proceeds to go pin drop silent. This just goes to show how effective the teacher training program at Muktangan is. Many of the teachers who teach at Muktangan are women from the community who have studied only until 10th or 12th grade. Seeing how far they’ve come and how good they are at their job was one of the best parts of this experience.
Our group of 7 volunteers have taken over a few of the 6th grade students non academic classes for 3 weeks. These classes include PE, arts and crafts, library and circle time. We have divided our lessons into Arts and crafts, science and reading and comprehension. From the 10 students I interact with on a daily basis, I have found that the students love the science component. We teach them science by using wires, bulbs and batteries. These are materials that they don’t get to use often and hence they are very excited and engaged during these activities.
For the reading component, we had a school pick a book (Babayan) that we would read, and discuss with the students. Most students reading abilities are average for their grade level if not above. One of the areas that many students struggle with is comprehension. Many students have a hard time understanding what they just read. For example there is a line in the book that says “Babayan drank in the greens of the forest”. When the students were asked what babayan was drinking they replied by saying the greens of the forest. The students are always having a good time with the arts and crafts . They are more than happy to unleash their creative side and to do something that doesn’t involve reading.
It’s always interesting to observe how the students behave with each other. They are in 6th grade so it’s natural for them to be mean to each other. However these students can also be incredibly helpful towards each other. There is one special needs student in my group of 5. It is not uncommon for him to pick fights with the other 4 students in the group, but when it comes to reading, (the area in which this student struggles) these 4 children are more than ready to help him and translate for him whenever needed.
My experience at Muktangan has been very eye opening. Working with the children and observing the teachers has taught me so much. It has increased my respect for all teachers and opened my eyes towards how fortunate I am.