There are very few teachers who go the extra mile to make sure that students are enjoying their classes. When Taslima Sheikh, a government school teacher in a small hamlet saw her students struggle while learning poems, she decided to make it fun for them by putting them to the tune of catchy music. Not only this, she uploaded the classroom videos on the internet so that students and teachers across the country could benefit from them.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires,” said William Arthur Ward, the renowned writer. This is the story of one such great teacher who is going the extra mile to make sure that her students get more interested in education – and the world of poems.
Taslima Sheikh, a primary school teacher in Diu, is giving a musical touch to the poems that her students have to learn, thus making them more enjoyable.
“When I started teaching here, I realized that students were facing problems in learning poems. So I thought of coming up with a idea that could make learning poems easier and more fun,” Sheikh says.
As per studies conducted by Stanford, it has been shown that people with a sense of music can easily detect small differences in word syllables as compared to people with a non-musical background. Also some knowledge of music helps the brain to distinguish very minute differences between rapidly changing sounds. This is also the premise behind Taslima’s idea.
Sheikh is using the tools of music and multimedia to make her students understand poems easily and in a fun way. She uses various ragas and sets the poems to those tunes to improve the sense of music among students and also to help them enjoy the music. She makes an effort to first choose the ragas and then adapts them to the various poems. Not just this, she also incorporates actions with the poems to make the classes more entertaining.
What is even more amazing to see is the dedication of a teacher who herself takes the initiative of recording the videos and uploading them online for others to watch and learn from! In a place where technology and internet are still not easily accessible, Sheikh has shown immense initiative and resourcefulness.
Connecting to the students
“I sometimes use catchy tunes from movie songs to keep the classes interesting and get more people to participate,” says Sheikh.
She first converts the poems of English, Hindi, Gujarati and Sanskrit into songs and sets them to the tunes of ragas. Then she demonstrates to the students how to sing these poems in the ragas and the students follow her instructions. Sheikh later takes a video recording of these classes and uploads the videos on Youtube to share the innovative concept with people across the country.
“The idea is to use multimedia elements and expand the impact by reaching out to other teachers and classrooms. I have had so far over 9,500 views on my Youtube channel and a lot of students and teachers from across the country have commented on how useful they find it. I have even shared these poem-songs to teachers in other schools in the district through pen drive and bluetooth when I met them at events,” she says.
Currently focusing on students of 6th, 7th and 8th standard, Sheikh wants to take this initiative to other age groups as well. The students gain confidence and don’t hesitate in singing the poems once they are part of these interesting classes.
Getting recognition from IIM Ahmedabad’s Teachers as Transformers platform was a big boost for Taslima as she was trying to teach students in an innovative way which was not done by many teachers before.
“I also got a chance to meet Narendra Modi and received appreciation from him. It was a great moment for me as I was one of the 34 teachers who were selected from entire state of Gujarat,” Sheikh says.
The initial challenge was to get students to sing the songs. Children would take time in getting a hang of the tunes and would feel shy to sing in class. But gradually, after regular practice, Sheikh’s students now are getting into the rhythm.
Also, it was hard to get videographers to film the sessions, so Sheikh started recording them on her mobile phone. “The professional videographers would charge excess money, so I did it myself on my phone,” Sheikh says.
The impact is clearly visible as the students who are unable to read or write in English can fluently sing English poems.
Watch this video of one of her sessions to see how the kids are picking up-
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“Same is the case with Sanskrit. As students find English and Sanskrit hard to understand, they are unable to learn the poems in the regular way. But through these ragas and songs they easily learn to sing them flawlessly,” Sheikh says.
Sheikh’s innovative teaching idea is a refreshing change which the students love. They look forward to her classes and are much more focused and learning faster.
Using multimedia as a tool to spread this innovative teaching style across India, Sheikh has started a new revolution in the field of teaching. Currently working with students in Diu and Gujarat, Sheikh wants to expand this initiative to other parts of the country as well. She wants other teachers to replicate what she is doing in order to reach out to many more students. Experimenting with new ragas is also on her agenda.
It is teachers like her who are taking this profession to another level. You can watch various interesting videos from her classes’ here – https://www.youtube.com/user/taslimasheikh2012