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Taming of the Shrews

Bringing in positive changes through a healthy personal touch.


Ms. Sakshi was in charge of facilitating the Udhyam Shiksha program for the first year students at ITI, Faridabad. In the initial days of the program, she had to face an array of problems. Here is a story of how she successfully overcame them and won the trust of her pupils.

The Students used to take the Shiksha class for granted as it wasn’t part of their normal schedule. There were no exams and the facilitators were lenient. Some even asked her if they can play video games outside instead of listening to the class. Some gave attendance and walked out of the class while others came in just 15 minutes before it ended.

Initially, Sakshi tried the classical approach of restraining them, only to see it fail. She then consulted with her colleagues and worked up her own formula to tackle this problem:

  1. She learnt all their names and started conversing with them informally. She used to enquire the students about their daily activities and even share her own

  2. For group activities, brainstorming and reflection sessions the class used to sit in a circle and she would sit down along with them. The students were taken aback. They offered a chair or at least to clean up the place she sat in. But she refused to budge and created a very positive image in their minds.

  3. She gave the video-gamers a generous time slot of 30 minutes to go outside and finish their conquests. Once they came in they had to keep pace with the ongoing class. This became a challenge for the students and they gradually started paying  more attention in the time left. They understood the importance of the class and reduced demanding time. Sakshi gradually reduced the time given for playing games and soon it was no more a problem.

  4. There were a couple of students who just attended the classes for the sake of attendance. They used to work in nearby place after college. Once the word spread about Sakshi madam’s fun classes, these students began to stay back for some time after the roll call. Sakshi spoke to them and enquired about their personal problems which had forced them into such a lifestyle.

  5. She understood their situation and told them that they have the full liberty to leave the class. She explained her purpose there and the goals of Udhyam. She didn’t paint the picture of a Messiah but instead offered to help out as a friend. ‘If I can help you out with any concepts or if you think what I teach enriches you then stay back. Otherwise I understand your constraints. I don’t want to burden you’, were her words.

  6. A few days into the program and these students started attending the classes regularly. The informal and down to earth approach resonated very well with the students.

  7. And finally there were the latecomers. They saw the attendance get better over time and witnessed the fun everyone was having. They too gradually fell in line. From walking in 40 minutes after class started to waiting 10 minutes for class to start, Sakshi's students had come a long way in a short while.

What were the determinants that brought in such a positive change in these students?

They saw that Sakshi added a different value to their lives. It wasn’t the monotonous jargon that the rest of their world was trying to force on them.

She made an effort to know their problems and do her bit to help them find the solution

She gave them independence and the right to choose. They learnt to take ownership of their actions. If they were late, they would miss out on an experience.

They couldn’t play rebel anymore. Bunking class wasn’t something to be proud of or show off. There was no logical reason to skip a fun filled and activity based class.

In conclusion, the informal and caring nature of the session helped Sakshi build a strong student-facilitator bond. Her personal touch helped in modifying the outlook of the students and increased their yearning for learning.