Getting the Basics Right - Harika Jain talks with You & I…

With a smile that lights up a room and patience to handle a bunch of toddlers, Harika Jain is who’s quite a perfect package. A phonetics teacher since the past decade, this PYT is easygoing and enjoys conversations. She finds joy in the little things in life, a quality she’s learnt from her young students. Here’s more about her. 

How did you end up becoming a teacher?
I had a degree in Mass Communication, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue in that field. At that point, I came across Montessori training, something I had never heard of before and was excited to know about it. I took it out of curiosity, and by the end of the course, I was pretty sure that I wanted to take up teaching as a profession. After almost a year at Montessori school, I started my classes with Phonetics. Phonics is a small part of Montessori teaching and now, in fact, a part of every system of education. I’ve been conducting phonic sessions ever since.

Can you tell us more about what you teach?
I introduce kids to the sounds of different letters and how it helps them with reading. It is treated as a very small topic, but it’s really huge in itself. It’s very important because this is the foundation. It just doesn’t end with alphabets; there is a lot more to it where it makes reading easy with right pronunciations. I basically lead them to read independently.

How different is the approach from the conventional teaching?
Our approach is very practical as compared to conventional teaching. It’s no more only textbook knowledge but something way beyond that. It’s more about teaching with different materials rather than leaving everything on the textbooks and giving more  logic behind every learning that the child is doing.

What, according to you, is missing with the way of teaching?
Schools are doing their best to give the right knowledge to kids but sometimes, I feel, they can slow down a little, and concentrate more on the quality rather than the quantity. I know they have some target that they need to achieve - that’s how the system works, but it’s okay to sit back sometime and mould according to the child. Where they see how much the child is actually learning and then move forward. It helps in building up confidence in children who are not able to match the pace. The other thing is which I have always been concerned about is educating the parent. These new systems are equally new to the parents as well. They need to be educated with the child. They need to know how to go about teaching kids at home. Not all parents would have access to different classes where these things are taken care of, so I feel it’s very very important and schools should come up with ways where they can educate the parents as well with the kids.

Have you been teaching through the six months?
The lockdown has forced us to adopt new channels of spreading knowledge. The last six months have been tough, dealing with a whole new concept of teaching digitally, which is equally challenging for a teacher. I appreciate all the schools doing it and doing it so well. I recently started online sessions and vlogging on different topics about methods to teach kids at home, so that it’s easier for the parents to take over. Honestly, I was very hesitant about teaching online because as a teacher we are so used to kids around us and teaching them one-on-one, face-to-face that this whole new wave of teaching digitally has been quite a challenge.

One lesser-known thing about you is...
From the time I’ve completed my Montessori training, there was always one thing that pushed me, something I really want to achieve, is to open a school or a small space for mentally challenged kids. Montessori somewhere helps in the development of these kids as well. So I want to do whatever required for it, study further for it and hopefully someday achieve this in my life.

How do you unwind?
In my kind of teaching, there is not a lot of physical stress, but there is a lot of mental stress, so I really love to spend time with my husband, friends or family. I love travelling, so I look for opportunities to pack my bags and get out, and now that it’s been this long, I need a holiday more than ever before!     ---- as told to Anahita