Standards 1 to 4
Teachers - Standards 1 to 4
Left to right: Navarathinam, Aruna, Mala, Nilen, Thamizhselvi, Murugan, Simone, Selvaraj, Manju, Satyavani, Jana
Manju (1st standard class teacher)
Manju came to Aikiyam in 2009 . She has a Diploma of Teacher Education (DTEd), a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Education (BEd)
She was born in 1989 in Villupuram. After Standard 12, she did a DTEd, and taught Upper Kindergarten (UKG) in a private school in Villupuram for 1 year. She then heard about a vacancy at Aikiyam and moved to Kuilapalayam. At Aikiyam she has taught in UKG, and the crèche before joining the first standard two years ago. Since coming here she did her BA by correspondence, and her BEd by attending courses on weekends and in the evenings.
She loves teaching. Here she is happy that learning is activity-based and uses real materials, outings and encourages children to learn through discovery. In Villupuram it was just “chalk and talk”.
She says she is always learning at Aikiyam, and has gained a lot of self confidence.
Navarathinam (1st standard class teacher.)
Navarathinam started teaching at Aikiyam in 1994. She has a Child Development Teacher Training Certificate.
She was born in 1969 in a village 30km from Pondicherry. After completing 12th standard she started her BA course by correspondence, but stopped because of her marriage in 1989. She and her husband moved to Kuilapalayam in 1993, and soon after Navarathinam was given a job in the kindergarten on a trial basis for 6 weeks by former New Creation principal, Roy. She found she loved being a teacher, and she feels extremely grateful to Roy for giving her this opportunity. She still phones him in the UK every year on his birthday!
Navarathinam loves her work and wants to improve herself. After Aikiyam became a CBSE School, she took her Child Development Teacher’s Training Course, and is now thinking of returning to a BA course.
When she began teaching she used the old-fashioned methods by which she had been taught herself, but gradually through the example of former principals, Mike and Sue, and other trainers, she learned to teach in a more child-centred way.
Sometimes she and Manju split the group in two and one will work with fast learners and the other with the slower ones, but more often they teach together with one explaining the concept of the lesson and the other walking around and checking each child’s work. They have 6 slow learners in the class. Four of them get supportive learning from Special Needs teacher, Sathyavani.
She finds the school to be very supportive and she enjoys living with the volunteers in the Teachers’ Residence.
Mala (2nd standard class teacher.)
Mala began to teach at Aikiyam in 2003. She has a BA in History and a Diploma in Nursery Teacher Training (NTT).
Mala was born in 1980 in Appirampattu, a nearby village, and moved to Auroville when she was six as her parents got jobs as caretakers of the Grace community. She attended Isaiambalam, New Creation and Udavi Schools in Auroville and did standards 11 and 12 in the Open School System. She then did her BA by correspondence, and taught for 2.5 years at Udavi School.
At Aikiyam she has taught English in standards one to four, worked with Saskia in Special Needs for 3 years, and taught the “Be true, not violent” course to the fourth standard, and to some students in fifth standard . She presently teaches singing in the optional hour.
Usually Mala and Aruna divide the class in 2 groups. Mala teaches English, Science and Social Science, while Aruna teaches Math, Tamil and Awareness Through the Body (ATB). Sometimes they will teach Social Science together and they also work together for games.
She likes the school very much. She says she learns so much from workshops, and from feedback given from observers. She finds the knowledge gained from working with Saskia in Special Needs to be very useful in the normal class as well. Special Needs training taught her how to plan, the step-by-step process to make it easier for children to understand, how to use games, and how to engage kids.
Aruna (2nd standard class teacher.)
Aruna came to Aikyam in 2009. She has a BSc in Math and a BEd, as well as a Diploma in Teachers’ Education (DTEd).
Aruna was born in 1990 and grew up in Kuilapalayam, where she attended Kuilapalayam Trust School from standards 1st to 12th, and where she learned by “chalk and talk”. There was only one hour of play per week, one hour of art and one hour in the library. Upon completing standard 12 she went to the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) for a 2 year training as a primary school teacher. She graduated with a DTEd.
When she came to Aikiyam, she first taught Tamil to standards 5,6,7,8. Then she moved to UKG for 3 years, and has been teaching second standard since last year. Her colleagues helped her a lot, when she first came, to get used to the new style of teaching. Since coming to Aikiyam she has done her BSc by correspondence, and her BEd during summer vacations and 2 days per month leave from school.
Thamizhselvi (3rd standard class teacher.)
Thamizhselvi began teaching at Aikiyam in December 2014. She has a B.A. and a B.Ed
Thamizhselvi was born in 1992 in Edanyanchavadi. She attended Udavi School until the 10th standard, and went to Pondicherry for the final two years of high school, her BA and her BEd, which she completed in 2014. During this period she did part time work teaching English in two Auroville programs for village youth. She taught at Isaiambalam School for four months and came to Aikiyam in December 2014. She began at Aikiyam by teaching English to standards 5 till 8, because the regular teacher, Sathiya was taking a break to care for her child. From March till October 2015, Thamizhselvi was on Maternity leave.
She returned to Aikiyam in October and is now co-teaching with Murugan in 3rd standard, having just spent 3 weeks observing an experienced grade 3 teacher at Transition School.
She and Murugan plan the classes together. Murugan teaches Tamil, while Thamizhselvi teaches English with Nilen. She also teaches Social Science. Murugan and Thamizhselvi teach Science together. For Math they have two groups.
Sathyavani (Special Needs [Supportive Learning] Teacher for Lower and Upper Kindergarten and Standards 1, 2 and 3)
Sathyavani came to Aikiyam in 2007. She has a BA in Tamil and is presently following a course on teaching children with special needs at the Auroville Teachers’ Centre.
She was born in 1982 in Kunichampet, a village near Pondicherry. Based on good results in fifth standard exams, she was given the opportunity of free boarding at a Central Government Boarding School in Kalapet from standards 6 to 10.
In 2005 she married and moved to Auroville. She worked for seven months in the Auroville Health Centre, and then moved to Aikiyam. She taught in UKG for 3 months and then began to work as a trainee in Special Needs with Stacy. She also learned speech therapy from the teachers of Deepam School for Differently Abled Children
Since coming to Aikiyam she has been able to complete her BA in Tamil by correspondence. Even though she had only completed standard 10, she was able to pass the entrance exam.
She works with a total of 18 children between 4 and 9 years, with range of difficulties. Some are slow learners, some are hyperactive. Most of her work is on a one to one basis. She sees each child for at least 45 minutes alone per week.
With smaller children she works on physical movement to strengthen muscles and help each child with coordination. In Awareness through the Body sessions (ATB), with Lower and Upper Kindergarten children in a group, they do animal walks, balancing, rhythm exercises, open/close, jumping. Then the children relax and she gives a massage for sensitivity awareness. The children do activities such as tearing, cutting, pasting, play dough, threading beads, both hand movements to strengthen fine motor skills. In UKG they work on colours, shades, numbers and if the teacher asks, phonic sounds. Then they may choose a game. She is in communication with class teachers to know which area to focus on.
Simone (English and Drama Teacher in Standards 1,2, and 3)
Simone came to Aikiyam in 2010, and began to teach English and drama to the upper kindergarten and first grade. As she follows the groups for consecutive years, this year she is working with the first, second and third standards. She writes:
I was born and grew up in France. Later, I worked as a Kindergarten Teacher in several places in France and Germany. Besides teaching, I loved plastic arts as well as dance and theater, made pots and sculptures in my garden, and participated in an experimental theater group in Berlin.
I arrived in Auroville in 1974, and in 1979 I opened the first Auroville Crèche in our garden, in Fraternity. Later, I joined the Kindergarten, and after that Transition School where I worked several years with a dancer, creating and producing Dance Dramas with all groups. I also taught French as a second language, arts and crafts, before becoming a class teacher, from 3rd to 6th grade, for many years. Drama performances with the creation of all decors and props, were an important tool in all my classes. It helped many dormant talents to emerge, and gave or restored self-confidence, besides numerous other social and learning skills.
I joined Aikiyam about 5 years ago, worked in the upper kindergarten and first standard, in an attempt to familiarize students with simple, relevant, spoken English. I used stories, books and pictures to tell stories and create small dramas, or simple games in which repetition was the key to learning the structure of language. I chose to follow the groups for consecutive years, and then worked with first, second and third standard, using the same approach. I also wrote and produced plays to be performed for the school and parents. The Art teacher helped to create the needed props. For a couple of years I also worked with second grade teacher, Mala as her teacher trainer and assisted the kindergarten teachers in using my methods. For past two years I work also with the 7th Standard.
My only possibility to evaluate the impact of my work on the students is through direct observations: They all seem to be thrilled to have class with me; they greet me warmly even years after I stopped working with them. I have seen again and again how performing improves their self confidence, how they can work as a team, and how acting improves their pronunciation. It may be enough to say that English became a little closer, a little more familiar, and so, maybe easier to use. I do hope so.
What touches me about Aikiyam is the simplicity with which I was accepted, how the teachers supported my work, and the freedom I was allowed, for which the principal is to be thanked.
But above all, it is the children’s pleasure, the sincerity of their effort, their patience and eagerness to excel and finally their pride that moves my heart. What better learning tool than success.