Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mumbai Marathon with the kids

I wanted to participate in the Mumbai Marathon ever since I heard about it. After many years of failing to register on time, I finally get my chance to run for Teach for India. I figured this would be a good way to motivate me to keep up my fitness levels which have plunged since joining the fellowship.

In class we have been bugging the students to work harder and set goals for themselves. Giving in to popular belief that modeling teaches best, I tried and modeled it to them. I told them what a marathon is. I told them that I am going to take part in the Mumbai Marathon. They have their goals, I have mine. Mine is to run 21km  in January. (Yeah, it's the half marathon. The 42km were too daunting.) Since I live close to the community, the park where I run is pretty accessible to the kids. They play cricket close by. I suggested that they could come to the ground on Sunday mornings and watch Bhaiya run. I thought it'll build their math skills as well. Sounds good so far.

What I haven't foreseen - calls on Saturday evening going like this -
"Bhaiyya, what time are you going to run tomorrow morning?"
(See how there's no question asking if I am running. That's assumed.)
(I was about to go and party with my friends and hence chances of me running in the morning are pretty slim.) 
"I'll be there at 7am kid. That's pretty early for you right?"
"No Bhaiyya. I'll come. You'll come no?"
Deepest of sighs. "Yes kid. I'll see you at 7am."
(Left party early to go home and sleep thinking I'll be lucky to have an actual social life between these 115 troublemakers)

Lack of social life aside, it's been fun. The first time, I thought that we should measure the ground to get an estimate of how much I am running. I got a skipping rope and we measured that with a measuring tape. Then we went around the park holding the skipping rope. 15 minutes, numerous strange looks (who cares?), few additions and multiplications later we decided that the running track was around 400m. One elderly gentleman actually asked us about the result at the end of this. Turns out he had overseen paving of the track. However, he claimed that it was around 650m. I didn't know what to say. We were pretty sure that our process had been correct. Also, I knew that I had not been running 10 rounds of a 650m long ground in 20 minutes. We left it at that.

Normally, kids see me running and they run with me. Being kids, they find it hard to understand why I am not running at full steam so they go up ahead. Then they run of breath and take a break. Not Abhishek. A hyperactive kid, he started running with me at the start of my run and went on to run more than 5km with me. I was amazed. I had been concerned if kids should be running that much but he managed to make it through. He told me that his legs ached afterward and I told him to take it slowly next time.

I have also been coaching kids kho-kho, dodgeball and running for the upcoming sports day. Apart from practice sessions after school, we also practice in the evenings at the park. Some people watch us play. One old gentlemen offered to speak to the park authorities and get proper markings done for kho-kho practice. Might even get a net for volleyball. If it does happen, it'll be great for the kids.

P.S - I am running the marathon for the selfish reason of increasing fitness but I am also running it for Teach for India and for my kids. Do support my fundraising for the same.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kamraj Nagar Quiz

What should GK be about? In many Indian schools, including ours, GK is about memorizing a collection of facts assorted by people in the system over years. Mostly, these facts are not related to the student's life in any way.
Who invented the microscope or radio? 
Who was Mark Spitz or Jesse Owens? 
Their surroundings and their own knowledge, as always, are ignored.We wanted the kids to know that observing their surroundings is important. Your community (Kamraj Nagar) is valuable and do not let anybody tell you otherwise.

In an attempt to do so, Kamraj Nagar quiz was conceptualized by Neha. Neha and Anish spent a few hours walking around the community observing things themselves and we discussed the questions that we were going to put in. Personally, it was one of the most exciting things we have done in the classroom.

This is what the quiz looked like. My thoughts on particular questions are in italics.

1.     What side of Ghatkopar Station is Kamraj Nagar on – East or West? 

2.    What is the name of the highway outside Kamraj Nagar?

3.    What side of the highway is Kamraj Nagar on? East or West?

4.    What is the name of the restaurant outside Kamraj Nagar gate, beside the police chowki (station)?

5.    What is the name of the temple (mandir) at the starting of Kamraj Nagar? (Hint - It’s a name of a student in 5th A) 
(I wanted the students to figure out the name from the hint since it's a Shiva Temple and the student is Shivshankar :))

6.    What is the name of the hotel, B, next to the Shiv temple? (Hint - It’s a name of a God whose festival was celebrated recently)

7.    What famous sweet shop is closest to the Shiv Temple? (A lot of our students buy their birthday cakes from here)

8.    What is the name of the chawl of Modern English School? (Must know!)

9.    How many schools are there in Kamraj Nagar? Can you name them?

10.  Name the classes exactly opposite the Municipality school. (We made an error on this one since there are no classes opposite the school. There's just an advertisement for one which we mistook for the real classes. Told to us by a student obviously)

11.  What is the motto of Deep Sagar classes?  (Explaining motto to the kids turned out to be very difficult)

12. What is the name of the first Gali of Kamraj Nagar? (This was only for the adventurous since the first gali is right at the end and not the best part of the community)

13. Who is the corporator of Kamraj Nagar? 
14. How many jewelry shops are there in Kamraj Nagar? 
15. What is the name of the church in Kamraj Nagar? 
16. Between which two Chawls does the library fall in?  

*KAMRAJ STAR* (This really got them excited. It required some work and exploration. They had 24 hours to find the answers)
17. Hanuman provision general store has a big poster of an oil bottle. What is the name of the oil? 
18. What is the name of the bag store opposite Maruti Jewellers?
19. What is the name of the hotel opposite chawl no.29?

20.There is a big, white goat that sits daily around the first public toilet. It has a chain on its neck which has 3 shells on it. What are the colours of those shells? 
(This goat is called Qurbaan and after Bakri-Id, is not seen any more. I don't think we considered the safety issues of having 40-50 kids ogling a huge, temperamental horned goat. I just crack up on imagining that sight.)

The quiz was a huge success. The kids were thrilled, especially about being Kamraj Stars and Superstars. A big chunk of the 5th grade was out on the streets after school trying to find the answers. Ashutosh and Kaif paired up and explored the area from the first gali to the last. They did this 3 times to make sure that they counted all the jewelry shops correctly. 
Does it matter if it was October and really hot in the sun? Does it matter if parents are waiting at home for lunch? No. Not really.  
As much as I thought it was cool, as a teacher I had to remind myself of my responsibilities and send the kids home first. Sigh.  

The next day, the air in the school was buzzing with excitement. Kids were bragging about how many answers they found and how close they got to the goat. They jumped upon us to confirm their findings. When we were discussing, there were shouts of joy on being correct. There were also heated discussions.
One of them was on the number of jewelry stores. Neha had counted 11-12. Apparently there are 15. There were groups of kids arguing about it being 14, 15 or 16. We smiled to ourselves. This time the answer was not important. The search and this discussion was.

While returning from the library, I saw Sejal and Anjali huddling together over the quiz paper in the middle of the street and thinking about which question to do next. They are on an adventure and discovering things on their own. A memorable experience for 11 year old girls. Moments like these are what they will remember. I immediately took out my cellphone and called Neha. So will we.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Building the Library - A photostory

If you haven't, you should read the first post on the library setup I wrote 2 months ago. As I mentioned in it, we (Anish and I) had already found a place to setup the library for our students in the slum. Now the job was to make it a suitable place for habitat of books, kids and us. And there are 4 of us now with Neha and Shruti. 
This was one of the busiest times of my life. We had a full day of school with 25% percent more kids in the class than the space permitted. Anish and I had just moved to a new place and were trying to sort our living conditions as well. And we were essentially renovating another room for the library. I grew by 5 years during that time. 

Task 1: Get it painted
We are always working with limited resources and I wanted to get the best possible with our means. However, I knew precious little about painting a house. These factors meant a little background research. I went through the Asian paints website and found out some basics about paint types and pre-work. Some shopkeepers were willing to give some of their time explaining the process and various qualities of materials available. I spoke to some parents as well about availability and cost of a painter. The colour scheme was inspired from Asian paints website. 
We got a painter from our landlady, some material from a student's father's shop and started.

The look changes after putty and plaster
The first touches of paint!
Coat of Violet on one wall is done
Introduction of Orange
 The look starts to take shape
 What do you think! :-D
Pretty Neat, huh?

 The transformation after the painting was amazing.

Compare the two pictures (ideal before and after).

Task 2: Choosing shelves
We were thinking if we wanted to get stuff built or get it straight from the market. After speaking to some people, the best way seemed to be to get second hand furniture near Ghatkopar station. It would save time, energy and cost. Off we went to hunt for things that would become a part of our library. We saw many. Most were rejected. Some looked good. Few were chosen. These were rejected for various reasons - too small, too expensive, too big, not useful.
These were chosen. One looks quite good and is perfect fit for the library. We got 3 similar shelves for the other and they suited our needs. They had to polished a little though. 

Task 3: Getting the shelves to the library
A tempo was hired to get the shelves into the narrow lanes of Kamraj Nagar to the library. The lanes are so narrow that it takes about 15-20 minutes to traverse a distance of 700m. One vehicle takes up the entire road and people, shopping carts and animals have to make way. Our driver was in such a hurry to leave that he dumped our shelves in the middle of the road outside the library and went back. He didn't bother to get the things inside. There we were, stuck in the middle of the road, sweaty and tired, with 4 shelves to be taken up a narrow attic. Despair at first. Resourcefulness shows itself and our kids come to the rescue. I have always said that our kids are our strength. Exuberant, energetic and helpful, they hardly broke into a sweat as their little selves, carrying shelves a little too big, fit themselves in the narrow staircase.

Library with the shelves. Only one thing was missing now. 
Task 4: Getting the books to the library
We had stored our books in a shed at the end of the lane of the slum last year. With the help of one of the parents, we got a tempo to help us transport the books to the library for 20 bucks. Our kids were the biggest help again. They got the cartons out of the shed to the tempo and then up to the library. In fact, they loved it. They were vying for who could carry more stuff. They even wanted to open the books and arrange them. We had to send them away saying that we wanted to go home now.
Unopened books in cartons
It didn't take long for the books to be opened and for the kids to desperately want to come to the library. Our naughtiest, academically behind students are among them. We let 2-3 of them see it first before we had set it up properly.
Books just kept on the shelves. Not in any order. Shruti spending some quality time with Abhishek.

Suraj spending 30 minutes working on the alphabet with Neha
 Abhishek was at his best behaviour the whole week
The library is up and running now. We have grouped the books in broad genres. The kids love to come to the library. Some of the events that have happened at the library - 
  1. I am sitting and working on my laptop at the library. The books are yet to be arranged. Gurudev (naughty1), Abhishek (really restless and naughty2) and Rohit (violent, rebellious, angry) climb up to peek inside. I invite them inside. They immediately start looking through the books. I decide that it's time to use them for sorting and arranging. I play some music. Beats of 'I like to move it' shake the walls. Abhishek starts to shake his whole body wildly. I am actually concerned :P Rohit just smiles and wouldn't say a word. 3 minutes later I see him singing along - You like to move it, move it!
    We arrange books into fiction, non-fiction, Indian folktales from Pratham, NBT and others.
    The kids say to me - Bhaiyya, aap baithke aaram karo. Abhi hum sambhaal lenge. *Proud*
  2. Anish's birthday coincides with World Literacy Day and he is reading out a Pratham storybook. Everyone is invited to the library and I am pretty sure that this was the most densely populated Pratham story read aloud. The line outside the library had built up before we had left school and opened up the library. The shopkeepers nearby were shouting about the ruckus. Everyone climbed inside. There were kids everywhere. So much noise and chatter. Took 15 minutes to calm everyone down. Took another 5 to find and make a place for Anish to actually read a story.
    A few snapshots -
  3. Nilesh (one my 5 weakest kids who can barely read) comes beaming into the library and searches for one of the phonics books. He knows that he can read simple phonics and loves 'Jam for Hap and Pam'. He can read and explain the story to me. He says that he will try and read other phonic books. He refuses to read the big "Animals from Africa" because he wants to do phonics first. I tell this incident repeatedly to everyone who can understand this.
  4. Before their test, a revision session is held at the library. Students come with their notebooks and syllabus and revise (or for some, study for the first time) in the library. They ask me doubts. They teach and help each other. 
This is just the beginning. We hope that we are able to do much more. Funds and your support is needed for that. If you wish to help us out in any way, reach out to me. As always, your comments are most welcome.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Experiments with Education: History I didn't know - 1

In 5th grade, we decided that we cannot compromise on students' content knowledge anymore. Irrespective of their language skills, there are things that they need to know about the world and their past. Keeping this in mind, I have been focussed on teaching Science and Social Studies extensively this year. History was never my favourite subject in school and I feel that a huge part of the reason was how it was taught. Pretty much the same for Geography.

Currently, my focus in class is on building student interest. Make these subjects come alive. To quote Antoine de Saint-Expury:
“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Instead of memorizing dates and thinking of history as a fact-book, my aim is to give them stories that they remember and put events into perspective. So, there has been a lot of reading about colonialism and their arrival in India. I have come across many things that I wish I had been told about when I was reading history.

  1. Most of these so-called explorers and discoverers were savages. Vasco De Gama was a brute. All this time, I had grown up with a perspective of him being a gentle scientist like creature who liked ships and sea. As wikipedia points out -
    "On reaching India in October 1502, da Gama started capturing any Arab vessel he came across in Indian waters, most notoriously the Miri, a pilgrim ship from Mecca, whose passengers he had massacred in open water. He then appeared before Calicut... He also captured several rice vessels and barbarously cut off the crew's hands, ears and noses, dispatching them with an insulting note to the Zamorin."
  2. There was a great Maratha admiral called Kanhoji Angre. He fought off the Portuguese, Dutch and the British all his life and being undefeated till his death. A true rockstar! He is also referenced in the Pirates of the Caribbean. Wikipedia quotes: 
    1. "On 4 November 1712, his navy even succeeded in capturing the armed yacht Algerine of the British President of Mumbai, William Aislabie, killing the chief of their factory and making his wife a prisoner. The yacht and the lady were released on 13 February 1713 for a ransom of 30,000 Rupees."
    2. Laugh aloud moment - "...on 26 December 1715, Boone made several attempts to capture Angre. But instead in 1718 Angre captured three ships belonging to the British leaving them to claim that Kanhoji Angre was a pirate."
    3. Awesomeness!  "1721 - British and Portuguese jointly attack Alibagh, but are defeated."
  3. History is full of fascinating stories and the legendary pirate Henry Every is linked with Aurangzeb in India. He made the richest heist to be made in the history of piracy when he captured the Ganj-i-Sawai of Aurangzeb's fleet. To appease the Mughal emperor, East India Company and the British kingdom was forced to conduct the first known worldwide manhunt happened for Every. More details on that story here.
So far, the stories have generated interest. I have trouble finishing my lessons because of the barrage of questions. I have to keep reminding myself that being asked questions incessantly is a good sign. Teaching history is turning out to be a fascinating learning experience for me. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Experiments with education: Open Period Excitement

I have just started my second year of teaching. As any teacher will tell you, one year experience is nothing to brag about. Anything we do in the classroom (even if tried and tested by others) is always an experiment because the students and their mood is always different. This series is probably going to have short posts on what we are doing in our class and school. The first one is about our open periods.

Starting this year, we have kept a few periods for other things apart from teaching regular content. One such period is the 'Open Period' which happens once a week. Even I am not quite sure of the definition but I envision it as a period where we learn about things we are interested in (basically something more than the textbooks about fascinating things). So we take a poll and come up with a topic and then, we learn about it the next week. The kids have taken a liking to this period faster than I thought and there's a buzz in the air when I walk in to the class. I think the related colour printout on the wall has something to do with it. :-D

One of these weeks, the topic was 'Why do people hunt tigers?' 
I was very impressed that kids asked me this question. It went in with our theme of "ANIMALS" for this unit. I am really proud of the handout that I made for this period (*Pats self*). I was able to integrate the Science and the Geography  topics that we had been studying in the week. Five senses in science and National Parks and wildlife in Geography. NCERT and google were the main resources used. 

Images of the handout are below. Feedback and suggestions are most welcome.  
The colour printout depicting the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger along with the hunting and poaching
  Talking about the senses of the Tiger + A colouring sheet (yay!). Sometimes I feel that the only thing they take away from the lesson is the drawing sheet. Sigh! On the other side, there's information and relation with geography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Library Setup - First Steps

One of the major reasons our kids are reading much below their supposed grade level is that their exposure to print after they leave school is almost negligible. Their only print sources are their school textbooks. No newspapers, no comics. Textbooks can be boring and some of their content is too high for independent reading. Some of them just do not inspire interest. 

Last year, Anish and I had participated in the Give India challenge where we wanted to raise money for our classrooms. Multiple people stepped forward and contributed generously. A lot of them contributed with books and stationery. Students of Bombay International school went ahead and even conducted a drive for us. They collected so much that I was overloaded with material. The auto-driver was scared that these big cartons wouldn't fit. We got Childcraft series, encyclopedias, story books, puzzles and novels.
Seeing all these books in a heap in my room, I kept pondering about a system to make all of this accessible to my students. I couldn't just go about handing books randomly in class. Where's the accountability? There's no way for me to see how much the kids have learnt. That's when I decided that I want to open a place where all these books are visible and accessible. They learn to read for pleasure, for information and on their own.

We did research, spoke to parents and searched for places in the slum to open a library. Accessibility was a major concern since people are apprehensive about sending kids (especially girls) in some farther parts. So was protection from rain (flooding and leakage). After months of deliberation, hunting and talks, we have finally decided upon a place. It's very close to school on the first floor. It's not very big. Maybe 10 X 15 feet.  
A coat of paint is definitely in order. We need to install a couple of tube-lights

We need to decide about layout. Too many questions. Cupboards, lockers or shelves? Tall shelves which next to the walls to increase seating or small, movable shelves for easy access? It has slabs for a kitchen which cannot be removed which we'll use as a table. 
Once we get this done, organizing books is something that I am really looking forward to. Though cataloging them doesn't look too tempting. We also need to decide on lists of magazines and newspapers that we'll get. Suggestions for children's magazines/newspapers are most welcome. Times of India is not allowed. :) 

Again, a big thanks to all the donors who contributed financially, in kind and in effort. Updates will be there when we get the library up and running. As you would expect, running a library is going to require money and man-hours. The rent for the place is almost Rs.3000 per month. The security deposit is Rs.30,000. Painting and layout costs extra. While I will be happy if you opened this blog once in a while, we need all the support we can get. If you would like to contribute in any capacity or have further queries, my email is

Let the show begin!

Part 2 is up. It's a photostory!
  1. We have signed the lease and are in-charge of this place starting today :-D
  2. One of my friends has agreed to bear the rent post October this year. Another good friend is sponsoring Rs.10,000 for other miscellaneous expenditures. 
These contributions really come to our help and we need a lot of those. All over the country.

There are a couple of new pictures.

A Better picture of the room

View from the outside. The orange door is the entrance and then a narrow flight of stairs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Second year begins strictly

Second year of Teach for India fellowship started 3 weeks ago and I was looking forward to starting the school on the first day this time around. I saw the Ron Clarke story in April. I was inspired. The movie is fantastic. As we had differentiated our students on the basis of their English reading levels, the inspired me decided to spend more time with the lower group and get them closer to grade level. I wanted to build motivation and get systems in place starting day 1. And so....I started with 'We are all a family.'

I spent time on rules and my expectations. First 2-3 days were really good. The behaviour in my class was around the mark where I wanted it to be. I had learnt my lesson from last year and started the year on a much stricter note rather than a crowd-pleasing one. I was strict with my rules. I still am. However, the behaviour has not gone along the lines I had planned it would. There are times when it's downright chaotic in class now. I feel that I have gone wrong somewhere. 

One thing that I have stuck to is high expectations. At least academically. I am going to make sure that each and every child is working in my class. Unless you are sick or absent, there's no escaping work done in class. There are students in class who can't read (or very little) despite being in school for about 6-7 years. They have conditioned themselves to believe that they are not going to learn anything in class. Since they have been in Teach for India classrooms for the past two years which forbids corporal punishment, they have taken it as an opportunity to not even force themselves to do work. As a result, they wouldn't even bother to take out textbooks in class whereas the same kids will scramble to copy homework somehow for Hindi or Marathi. They believe that they are not even expected to do work or they can get away without doing it. (I wonder if we have somehow enhanced their lackadaisical attitude towards work and given them freedom.)

Well, they were in for a surprise. A luxury that morning school allows is that it's possible to hold the kids back after school. Something that was not possible earlier when school ended at 5pm and the building had to shut down. So.... If you have not finished work, you are not going home. Period. I explained this point to the parents during our parent teacher meeting and got their support. Let the show begin.

On the second day, I held back some students. They were surprised and wanted to go home. No way! We'll stay back and work until you finish your work. I don't care how long it takes. I am not going home. Neither are you. If you are hungry, let's finish work fast. If you plan on continuing like this, get extra tiffin from tomorrow. We can even do a sleepover. Let your parents come. They and I have a chat overdue anyway.

They were my weakest students. Until they had finished writing the 5 picture story in their own words (with my help of course), they had to stick with it. They complained, cribbed and sulked. Some refused to write. Some said that they'll do it at home. They were falling on deaf ears. Successes - Each one of them wrote something. They learnt new words. They tried spelling things. They drew. They wrote a story. And they went home.

It has happened few more times after that. I can see the kids learning when I spend time with them after school. Most of the time, it is just to get them to work. Some of them write in class now. After all, everyone likes their lunch on time. Especially if you are an 11 year old. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Terry-Pratchett go backpacking: 1-Snippets

During our summer vacation (perks of being a teacher), Tarang (hence referred to as TJ) and I went backpacking across Vietnam and Cambodia for 2 weeks. If you are confused about the title, read on - 

Velkommen Backpackers, Phnom Penh, Cambodia - 
TJ and I are sharing a dorm with a few British, an American and a Canadian. Inevitably, we ask each other's names. Tarang's name goes through many attempts of Traang and Taraang. One person asks if they can call him Terry. 
When it's my turn, they echo "Richard?"
Me - "I was born Hindu and in India. I am NOT Richard for sure." 
We go through a few more attempts until a close enough compromise is reached. 
One British - "You know, if put your names together, you get the name of a famous British author."
TJ and I - "Who?"
Answer - Terry Pratchett. Hence the title. 

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai - 
Our flight's departure is scheduled at 6:35 AM. While giving us our boarding pass, the girl at the counter asks us - "Please board the flight at 5:30 AM."
I raise my eyebrows - "Ek ghanta pehle kya karenge plane me!" (What'll we do one hour before?)
TJ - "Arey! Late jaayenge re." (Dude! We'll board late man.)
The girl looks at us and starts to say something that sounded like we would get in trouble etc.
I look at her, smile and cut her off - "You didn't hear that."      
Smoooth, right!

Despite our attempts to explore the closed stores and go late for boarding, we still manage to end up sitting and waiting for the boarding to start. As is mandatory for idle talk between men, it shifts to women. TJ is talking about one of his recent infatuations. However, all is not perfect with her. There's one minor glitch. 
TJ - "Arey! Uska head is to shoulder ratio ajeeb hai."  (Her head is to shoulder ratio is weird.)
WTF! These are going to be very interesting next few days. 

Air Asia Flight to Hanoi, Bangkok Airport
We are sitting on the flight to Hanoi at 5:30 AM. After spending 2-3 hours at the airport trying to keep awake I am rethinking our decision to book morning flights. Add the fact that we had to change flights because the first flight had some temperature issues and we are late by one hour at the beginning of our trip. Since I have decided to try and maintain a travel journal, I take it out. (I don't think I have written anything on it after we left Vietnam. So much for decision.)
Me - "Arey Tarang! Aaj subah kuch interesting hua?"  (Tarang, did anything interesting happen today?)
TJ - "Bandiyon se baat karne ki koshish ki aur nahin hui." (We tried to talk to girls but couldn't.)
Me, in a very matter-of-fact, nonchalant tone - "So anything apart from the usual?"

This trip holds much promise. Let's see if we do anything apart from the usual. Coming up on next few Terry-Pratchett adventures - Encounter with Vietnam Immigration authorities, Creepy white guy in Bangkok (not at all unusual) ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stealing Tarun's thoughts for my blog

Despite my strong desire, the high threshold energy required to create a blog post has led to no posts since Diwali last year. However, this time, I have the excuse to say that I have been busy, which has never happened before in my life (I know I have been a jobless bum these past years). Busy with teaching. Then busy with grading. Then busy with traveling (More on that soon). I know that a busy man finds time for everything but I am just inefficient. 
However, other people haven't been as inefficient with their time as I have been. They have managed to do and accomplish much more than I have and simultaneously, found time to pen down some very readable and thought-provoking stuff. 

Tarun Verma, a dear friend and colleague, maintains a blog regularly. His blog has pictures of his students and his classroom, his new ideas, his experiences and his doubts. His continuous strive for excellence and concern for his students stand out consistently. He really is giving his kids some incredibly powerful experiences and I hope I learn something from it. 

Somewhere he says, "The day I sleep well, I get up early and start my car to make the 25 min drive to school. Usually I'll play loud dance / rock music that thunders in the car. For me its like I am going to war each day to make sure I impart something to my students. Something that is useful and helpful. People ask me why I did not follow my Dad's footsteps in the Army. I think I did. This Army I am a part of will change India." 
While I have never thought about it this way, it is an intense way to think about the fellowship experience.

Sometimes he writes things which I haven't been able to form clearly even in my thoughts but make so much sense when I see it in print. 
One example would be - "I learn from the abandon the kids have, everyday. And realize how leading by example, they give me a shot at lessening my anger, increasing my patience and living each moment as it comes. I'll be a better man for this experience."

And really I wish I had written this - "And becoming a better person might be one of the most selfish reasons I am here. Though I am reluctant to normally admit it."

Keep up the good work Tarun!