Co-teachers? What Co-teachers?


I felt very fortunate during my first week to have the help of my co-teacher, Kirinbhai, in my classes. We made a pretty good team. As I asked the students questions, occasionally, I would just be met by a bunch of blank faces. Kirinbahi would then jump in and explain to the students in Gujarati what I had asked, even breaking down my questions/statements word for word on the board so the students really understood what I had said in English. During our free periods, I would sit down with Kirinbhai in the teacher staffroom. I would give him short English lessons, and he would, in return, give me invaluable Hindi lessons. I thought we had a pretty good thing going. This all ended when he came up to me yesterday and broke the news that he was going to get a permanent, government teaching job in a city elsewhere.

Teachers that receive their M.A. to be qualified to teach will apply for "permanent" government teaching positions, unless they have some connection to work for a privately-run school. The longer they work as a government-hired teacher, the more they get paid. In the co-teaching model of the Nanubhai Education Foundation, co-teachers are essentially hired by the Foundation and the Kadod High School principal, not by the government. Since Kirinbhai was not being paid any more than a first year government-hired teacher, his logical, best course-of-action would be to apply to work through the government, giving him job security and the promise of better pay in the future. To fix this broken model, Nanubhai should offer to pay the co-teacher a greater salary that offsets the cost of not immediately getting the permanent government position. However, the principal of the high school obstinately decided that the co-teacher should not be paid more than they're worth. So, in fact, they are being paid less than what they could make in their first year employed by the government.

Zach's co-teacher, Binitaben, is also calling it quits at Kadod High School. In about an hour, I'll be teaching 8th, 9th, and 11th standard classes without Kirinbhai's help. What are my students going to do? With the amount of Hindi that I know, I can't translate a single sentence of the stories that I have to teach. Plus, some students only know Gujarati, a language I haven't even attempted to understand yet. I'd better scrap something together with the hour I have left. Check the update to see how my classes went!

I went up to the staffroom about half an hour before class. The teachers that were there invited me to eat mangoes with them. I had yet to know how to eat those ripe Indian mangoes without making a complete mess, so I watched as one of the teachers used a knife to make cuts in the fruit with surgical precision. I think he noticed at how intently I was watching, and after he cut the first mango, he handed the knife over to me and said something in Gujarati, presumably something like, "Would you like to try?" As I tried to mimic what I'd just observed, I still managed to get mango juice all over my hands and the tray. The teachers got a good laugh out of it, but in the end, I was able to produce a few good slices of mango. Sigh, my nerves had calmed a lot, and I felt like I was ready for classes. At that moment, one of the supervisors came to me and asked me to come into his office. He could only speak to me in Hindi, so after a few rounds of him speaking and me asking him to repeat more slowly, I realized he was telling me that because Kirinbhai would not be here, they would find a replacement co-teacher . Until then, at least for the next couple of days, I would not be teaching. Apologies for the anti-climatic ending for those of you that were waiting for an Eric crashing and burning story.


Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...


Eric, no one desires to see you crash and burn. Can't the school buy you a Hindi phrase book? Or at the minimum, did one of your house-mates bring one?

erichuh said...

I'm learning Hindi little by little. They recommended this since it will be more useful to use throughout India. But some students don't understand Hindi and can only speak Gujarati, the local language. I'm thinking about switching over to Gujarati, but I've been told that learning Hindi is a walk in the park compared to learning Gujarati.

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