The saying, ‘One never stops learning’, really came to life for me during the last year and a half. It might seem odd saying that whilst still being in high school, but when I along with Axel and Trisha took the responsibility off of our seniors to run this project to teach students half our age, I never thought I would also be the one learning. We knew that if we are going to take responsibility for teaching students, it has to be in a subject that we all are passionate about. That for the three of us was Science, and we were very lucky to have the same passion in the students we had over this period. Axel and I were responsible for the Physics ‘department’ in our plan and Trisha was for Biology and Chemistry. This didn’t stop us from teaching biology with Trisha and neither did it stop Trisha from teaching physics. The reason why this activity in my view was successful, is because we had a cradle made up of trust, belief and understanding between the leaders that helped us face problems and also celebrate our successes.
This project was a big test of our time-management, communication skills and open-mindedness. You can have the best lesson-plan but if it’s not communicated well it simply is useless to the students. This showed me the importance of altering your language to the situation and the level of understanding of the student. Importantly knowing that the students are coming from less sensitive cultures, we had to use my synonyms or sometimes skip a specific topic such as reproduction. This was even harder as we had to do it in Marathi. There were instances where the set of kids we had didn’t show up or one day they show up without notice. These are the time where we created plans within hours and made sure that the students take-away something from the lessons.
Another thing that anchored us down to producing quality lessons and lessons that changed the way they learnt was the fact that the students travelled hours to get to the facility. We knew that we have to deliver our best so that the time they spend is worth it.
When we were in MYP-5 we had integrated sciences, and that helped us have an understanding of three different subjects in just one year. This helped us get a better idea of what to choose in DP. We used this same concept in our project, we began with Biology, taught 3 topics in each subject and instead of an exam, we did experiments in groups. One of the biggest changes we wanted to bring in the learning was to remove exams and aim for the understanding of the concepts. Therefore, the students don’t have a burden in the back of their minds. This created a freer environment to learn in and this spoke tons when it came to how they put to use the knowledge in hands-on experiments.
With consultation from our teachers, we were able to maintain a safe/risk-free environment when doing experiments. We always got our plans approved from our supervisors and also took feedback every week from our students and their teachers. This helped us reflect before every new step we took and after in this project, helping us be more aware of our actions and making sure they are ethically sound.
Overall, I think this activity has give me more than I expected. I never thought I would be the one learning Marathi and Hindi with the help of our students, neither did I think I would be making connections with our students. Having three leaders didn’t create conflict but gave us sense of responsibility which I believe we have fulfilled, with respect and determination. I hope the learning the students have received not only helps them in their school studies but also in their day-to-day life. We had our last session recently where we performed a physics experiment, to end on a very high and fun note. However, this won’t be their last lesson in this activity as I hope to see this project continue under the leadership of other students in the coming years.