Reading & Renewing Hope – Enrichment class at Natwar Nagar school

The new year brings with it the promise of hope and rejuvenation for schools, teachers and students across the globe. With schools in India gradually re-opening and the COVID-19 vaccination finally taking flight,  2021 is an assuring start for the Akanksha family. 

Keeping in line with the themes of renewed energy and high spirits, Jesal didi, Assistant School Leader from Natwar Nagar Mumbai Public School started a weekly enrichment class, ‘Readers are Leaders’. Focussed on facilitating an engaging space for 6th and 7th graders, Jesal didi hopes to enable socio-emotional learning by creating an environment in which students can express themselves through various mediums. 

Reading, Reflecting & Learning

Students extract lessons from their readings through their reflections and class discussions. Examples include the class discussion on the key question, ‘Can the people in our lives make us or break us?’ by engaging with Thomas Edison and Adolf Hitler’s life events as well as student reflections on Hellen Keller’s life journey. In lieu of the significance of hope in the past year, students discussed the role of aspiration in their lives through O.Henry’s short story, ‘The Last Leaf.’ Other common themes discussed in class include – the role of struggle in our lives, how we deal with our difficulties and how such experiences make us stronger individuals. A relevant current issue that is regularly discussed remains the importance of mental health and the reasons behind the increased emergence of depression and  hopelessness amongst today’s youth.

Amplifying Student Voices 

The initiative encourages students to employ and practice diverse modes of expression such as acrostic poems, a monologue and guided poetry writing. Through such activities, children engage in deep discussions which allow them to make connections to their own life, the world around them and their peers’ experiences.  “I got my ex-student to talk about her monologue video and facilitate the what, why and how of a monologue. Last class, I also taught them some features of the video creation and editing app, ‘Inshot’, so that they can record their poems and present them beautifully. This got the children super excited as they started exploring the app and creating their videos,” Jesal didi shared on the happenings of the class.

Another unique and critical feature of this programme is ensuring the agency and autonomy of the students. Children lead parts of the class (grounding, game, and so on) by assuming roles of responsibility. These vary from leading discussions in the breakout room, fulfilling the position of note-taker or even becoming co-host on Zoom sessions to admit other students. “We are now envisioning of having our own Youtube channel where the videos created by children will be uploaded. It will be a source of motivation for the children and will inspire other children as well to use different means to express themselves,” said Jesal didi.

Going Forward 

Jesal didi intends to add a host of interesting and fun community exercises in upcoming classes such as watching short movies, conducting virtual debates, analysing & questioning Disney fairytales as well as organising film critique & review sessions!  “Such engaging activity will enable students to voice their opinions and question and modify such stories and more,” shares Jesal didi. 

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