Volunteer Speak - Sandeep Varma

posted May 19, 2011, 10:27 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 19, 2011, 10:28 AM ]

Sandeep is engaged with the SA program in Marathalli. He is a graduate of NLSIU and has been a corporate lawyer for close to a decade. He is currently endeavoring to proactively engage with his dreams, one of which is to practice teaching as an art by stimulating one’s creativity, rather than as a science alone. He is passionate about and around children, into whose minds he seeks to imbibe and nurture Respect and Creativity.

His interests include reading across a variety of non-fictional topics, fitness, sports, music and travel. Sandeep has been associated with Aashayein Foundation for 2.5 years and currently handles School Head responsibilities. He consistently demonstrates leadership qualities and a very high level of commitment in strengthening teaching activities at Marathalli.

Aashayein Foundation's Interview with Sandeep.


AF:            How did you get into teaching at Government Model Primary School, Marathalli?

Sandeep:    Vide the ‘TEACH INDIA’ campaign in 2009.


AF:            What motivates you to do this work?

Sandeep:   A couple of things prompt my involvement – (1) engaging with the kids, who stimulate my creative side and (2) sharing knowledge innovatively, which I am passionate about.


AF:            While teaching how did you handle students of varying levels of know-how?

Sandeep:   The age-group with whom we engage, generally prefer stories. These are built around theactrics, pictures, audio, video and games.


And pretty much any kid enjoys being individually challenged, which is done by way of in-class activities and take-away activity sheets. Whilst the stories are generic, the challenges offered to each child can be customized, allowing for a degree of individualized learning. This is something that the team is moving towards putting in place across each class.


AF:            Do you think knowledge of the local language is necessary to teach English?

Sandeep:   Not at all. In fact, I would think not knowing the local language is an advantage as the volunteer must now necessarily get creative to engage with the children in a language alien to them. Once you get creative regularly, you sustain their interest in yourself and what you are seeking to share.


AF:            How do you plan your Classes?

Sandeep:   Last year, we drew up the learning objectives and syllabus for each class prior to the commencement of the academic year (during the summer holidays). This year, we are drawing up specific lesson plans for every session to be held during the academic year in as many of the classes as possible. Having prepared the lesson plans in advance, the team for that class can then focus on creative ways to engage with the kids as the academic year progresses.


AF:           Your school has seen some of the best regular and committed volunteers. What practices do you follow to keep your volunteers engaged and motivated?

Sandeep:   Each volunteer comes in because s/he is passionate about something that s/he is looking to engage with. The commitment level of each volunteer is theirs alone. My role is simply to encourage their respective passions. Furthermore, we each understand that we are part of a team and each volunteer takes pride in ensuring the success of the team.


                  Having said that, we do need more volunteers in our school if we are to accomplish what we’ve set out to do for the upcoming academic year.


AF:            Apart from regular teaching, we keep on hearing about some or other activities happening in your school. Can you shed some light on the other activities being conducted in your school?

Sandeep:    In order to look at the overall development of the kids and to build a more meaningful relationship with them, we recently begun looking into initiatives that focus not only on academics, but also on their welfare. We will begin implementing most of the initiatives from the upcoming academic year.


AF:            What are the plans for this year?

Sandeep:   On the Academic front, the emphasis will be to engage with the kids as creatively as possible. We also propose to implement Hippo Campus’s “GROW BY” Reading program within our school. And if we are able to secure the funds for transportation, we would like to ensure contact sessions with the kids at the planetarium, museum(s), Bannerghatta National Park and an industry/SEZ/ IT park.


On the Welfare front, we’ve planned a few camps (dental + eye + general health + speech and hearing) for the kids. We will also (i) provide each child with a minimum of one uniform set and one set of footwear for the upcoming academic year, (ii) install and replenish water filters in the school to ensure safe drinking water, and (iii) procure and maintain a first-aid kit in the school. Those teachers and volunteers interested will be trained in basic first aid by a pediatrician. Furthermore, we would like to ensure basic sustenance for the kids and are working on arranging breakfast for the children every working day, following which we would like to ensure requisite vitamin supplements and bi-annually provide de-worming tablets.


                  We’ve plans to work on the physical and physiological well-being of the kids too (by tying up with Magic Bus, StreetFit AnAerobics and The Pranic Healing & Arhatic Yoga Institute), which we will action to the extent possible. We will also have people come in on a regular basis to work with the kids on Indian classical dance, music and art, if possible.


                  In the longer term, we would love to put in place computers within the school and use them to simulate language, math and science labs. We have also initiated discussion with a psycho-therapist who specializes in children’s education and will look to develop programs whereby the middle-school kids become involved in community projects locally, whilst the younger kids imbibe a sense of community within themselves.