The CAS project is an opportunity to collaborate and engage within and beyond your community, in order to create a meaningful difference. Many of my Tuesdays for the past two years have been spent brainstorming lesson plans, gathering beakers for experiments and translating scientific definitions from English to Marathi. As part of the science service learning group, I have taught biology, chemistry and physics to students for the last two years. I began teaching students from Vasant Dada Patil School (a Marathi Medium School in Pune) and now I teach students from Equality For All. I lead the teaching group, along with two of my peers.
Even though we spend hours meticulously creating lesson plans and preparing experiments, our classes do not always go to plan, which has taught me the invaluable skill of learning to adapt to situations and think on my feet. Sometimes, the students’ knowledge of science is too basic for us to continue with a planned activity, requiring us to pause our lessons and take a step back to explain basic concepts. Other times, experiments do not go as smoothly as we anticipated, requiring us to quickly figure out where we went wrong and learn from our mistakes. Although it is always challenging to learn from failures and mistakes, being able to adjust when things do not go to plan has been a significant takeaway for me during my time as a teacher to these students.
One of my greatest challenges throughout this process has been adjusting to language barriers. Although I am not as fluent in Marathi as I am in English, teaching these students has required me to brush up my Marathi skills and attempt to explain complex concepts using my limited vocabulary. I have seen both my Hindi and Marathi skills improve over time, particularly through the help of my students! They correct my misspelt or mispronounced Marathi words, and even prompt me to think of simpler synonyms to difficult words for them to understand. While I share my knowledge of science that I have accumulated over the years with my students, they help me develop new skills, particularly in the field of language- in this way, we learn from one another and are able to create a positive, two-way learning environment during our lessons.
Being able to share the exceptional resources we are provided with at MIS with these students has not only enriched their learning experiences, but has also increased my awareness and gratitude for the innumerable resources I have access to. The students are always incredibly excited to engage in the experiential learning activities we plan, from the egg drop activity aimed at introducing the concepts of force and momentum, to the plant growing activity aimed at explaining the limiting factors of photosynthesis. Working with my peers to create these lessons, and working with my students as we learn from one another, has been a truly unforgettable experience.
Our future plans for this year, since we have just started physics with our current batch of students, include first going over basic concepts such as density and electricity, then later performing experiments to depict the same.