The Joy of Giving Back

Nov. 15, 2016

- Suprasanna Aryal for Teach For Nepal

Playing with numbers and solving those mathematical problems isn’t something every kid enjoys doing. So if you’re a Maths teacher, it takes a lot to help your students concentrate, persevere and excel in the subject. And Teach For Nepal Fellow Krishna Prasad Sharma knows exactly what to do to make his Maths classes worthwhile for his students.

The students are mischievous. They are noisy. They make fun of each other in all possible ways even inside the classroom. “Sir, he’s staring outside the window again.” “Sir, she hasn’t finished the homework.” But it’s the love that binds them together and makes the classroom feel like home.  Krishna asks them to stop chatting, sit straight, close their eyes, take long deep breaths and meditate for a while. The students let all thoughts pass - their pending household chores, their buffaloes, their family. This trick works. They are silenced and all set to open their books and copies and get back to studies.

Number System is in the lesson plan. To make them speed up, Krishna announces that as soon as they solve a question, they are to raise their hands. He gives Hi5 to the students who raise their hands, checks if they got it right and points out the mistakes if any. The kids excitedly do the calculations and call out for the much deserved Hi5s.

He ends his class after he gives them more questions as homework so that the students don’t forget what they recently learnt.

Have the students always been so open and comfortable in classroom?

It took a long time connecting with the students, shares Krishna. “During my first few months of Fellowship, I was not so comfortable in the new environment myself. But as I started interacting more with the students, their parents and school’s staff and learnt about their lives, I started feeling like I belong to the community,” he reminisces. He adds that the students also eventually understood that Teach For Nepal Fellows are in their community for their own growth. So they started opening up and sharing about their concerns.

What’s the biggest challenge of teaching Mathematics?

Despite having ample knowledge on the subject, making the students understand is difficult. “It’s easier for them to understand a chapter if I relate it to their daily lives,” he quips. “There are so many theories in the course book that aren’t much practically applicable so teaching those concepts sometimes becomes very nerve-wracking,” he observes.    

A project worth flaunting

Krishna, along with his Co-fellow Medha Joshi, have taken up the responsibility to get their school’s library running. They have assigned four Library Prefects from seventh, eighth and ninth grades each. The prefects take turns managing the library books during their breaks and lend out the books to the ones interested. “Many students enjoyed reading autobiographies of national and international personalities like Jhamak Kumari Ghimire and Malala Yousafzai. They found these books very inspirational as they learnt how disabilities and social stigmas cannot stop people from doing good things if they are determined to do so,” he shares. They are working on making the library more systematic with the prefects.

Major realizations and personal learning so far

“I’ve realized that while working in a new professional context, the system constantly tries to change you. But you have to remember to stay strong and not lose yourself,” he shares. For him, another major takeaway from the Fellowship is the skill to connect with any kind of people easily. “I was always a quiet person and hesitated to talk to people. But the Fellowship has constantly pushed me to be interested in my students’ lives to be able to help them improve. This has taught me the skills to initiate conversations, empathize and give necessary suggestions,” he says. Also, he is living all alone near the school in a village - away from home and adjusting in a small room for accommodation (a room that also serves as a post office and storage for earthquake relief materials), which has taught him to adjust to any kind of situation.

Inspiration for joining the movement

Krishna’s family came to Kathmandu from rural Dhading when he was around 5 years old. They had opened a small teashop on footpath to earn a living and Krishna was admitted to a government school. Completing school in such a difficult situation wasn’t easy. But he was a studious kid and topped his classes because of which he received several scholarships. “I was fortunate enough to receive so much support for my education. That’s how I was able to finish my engineering. So I felt that it’s my responsibility to be there for other children who are in need. This is why I applied for Teach For Nepal Fellowship - to serve the children of rural Nepal and help them achieve their dreams,” he says.

(Teach For Nepal Fellow Krishna Prasad Sharma teaches Mathematics in Shree Bhimsen Adarsha Secondary School in Devichaur, Lalitpur.)

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