Ma’am, I Have an Information!

I can’t believe my time as a Fulbright ETA is almost over. The past two months of school have been a hodgepodge of different activities.

In early February, students from Class 5 onward started preparing for/taking final exams. So I scrapped my old timetable and switched to teaching Class 2B and Class 3 a couple times a week.

My first day of teaching Class 3 felt like a disaster. It started off on a chaotic note when a student turned on the ceiling fans and the small, square pieces of paper I had cut out for an activity (along with a handful of worksheets) blew everywhere.

Before I knew it, ten students were scrambling to help pick them up. Naturally, the rest of them decided this was the perfect opportunity to talk and scream.

Their regular class teacher soon noticed the chaos and told them to stand up for the remainder of the class. (Luckily, there were only 10-15 minutes left in the period.)

Luckily, I had much better control over the class on Day 2. When the students started to get out of hand, I used the “If you can hear me, clap once. If you can hear me, clap twice.” trick, and it worked like a charm. They immediately quieted down and listened to my instructions.

But the beginning of class was always noisy. Almost every class period started like this:

Ma’am can I pass out the papers?  Can I pass out half the papers?  Can I rub the board?  Can I help you with something?

(A group of five or so students clustering around me and begging me to assign tasks to them.)

And involved conversations that went like this:

“Ma’am, he’s sitting in my chair.”
“It doesn’t matter. Just sit in a different seat.”
“But Ma’am, he’s sitting in my chair.”
“I don’t care.”
“But Ma’am he’s sitting in my chair.”

And interruptions like these:

“Ma’am, I just wanted to show you a new book that I got.”
“My finger is paining. Can I go to Manju Didi?” (The nurse)
“Ma’am, I have an information!”
“Ma’am, I have a confusion!!!!”

(I felt lucky if I could say two sentences in a row without being interrupted.)

Despite its craziness, teaching the junior school was a nice break from teaching literature. I did lessons on articles and adverbs with Class 3 and lessons on adjectives and synonyms with Class 2.

My favorite way to review grammar was by having a class competition. From experience, I knew that competition was the best (and often the only) way to get students focused and engaged.

Though they differed in content, my review games followed the same basic structure: I had students pass around a ball and answer a question or make a statement. I also timed how quickly the class completed the task and challenged them to do it in less time during the second and third rounds.

Here are some of the games we played:

The Opposite Game: I say an adjective. Students say the antonym of the adjective.
This cake is…: Students complete the sentence using one of the 15 synonyms they learned for good/great (Ex: Amazing, spectacular, outstanding, etc.)
PB&J Adjectives: Students say one sentence describing either peanut butter, jelly, or bread. (I taught them how to make PBJ sandwiches the day before we played.)

It’s truly amazing how much you can do with just a small polyester ball.


This ball has probably passed through the hands of at least a 100 students at Akshar.

During my free time, I also helped Dhruv and Aditya (two of the Further Education students) write short books:


Aditya also wrote a book on Soumitra Chatterjee, a famous Bengali actor:

Soumitra Chatterjee

(Note: I designed these books on Canva. The software is free. It’s easy to use and is great for designing books, flyers, social media posts, etc.)

Doing these projects was fun because Aditya and Dhruv are motivated students. It also gave me an opportunity to teach Aditya the elements of the writing process (brainstorming, outlining, writing a rough draft, editing, etc.) and some basic skills (such as saving files on a flash drive and scanning photos.)

Dhruv and I also had a chance to interview a manager at Oxford Bookstore, which is one of the oldest bookstores in Kolkata. She offered to help us organize a book launch party.

We just finished the books today so (fingers crossed) hopefully we are able to organize the party within the next couple of weeks!

Oxford Bookstore

Interview at Oxford Bookstore