Nisha teacher of Kite-Victers sings and teaches English
Kozhikode: Teachers in Kerala are having a tough time since the Covid-19 lockdown. It is even tougher for Nisha V L. The name may not ring bells to all. However, Nisha teacher of the Kite-Victers has her own 'fan base' across the state. Nisha is an English teacher from St. Helen's HSS, Lourdupuram, Thiruvananthapuram. She was already popular among the students and teachers of schools under the Neyyattinkara Block Resource Centre. She outgrew all these as soon as her classes started to be aired through the Victers channel as part of the 'First Bell' e-classes during the Covid-19 lockdown in June 2020. At present, she inaugurates at least one programme in a school a day, almost literally. Most of the time, it would be English clubs.
This class 2 English teacher also gets phone calls and handwritten letters daily from her 'TV students' who do not necessarily fall under the age group she teaches. From pre-school kids to grown-ups, all listen to her classes. Apart from sending letters, students imitate her by wearing the same colour sari and acting like her. One student made a 'virtual visit' to the teacher's house through Google Earth and posted the video on social media. The teacher went to see her later.
Teaching was not love at first sight for Nisha. She loves kids and English. That is why she is in this profession. 'I wanted to become a doctor. But my family situation did not allow me to follow my dream. I started my career as a dance teacher after my school. I pursued UG and PG courses after my stint at a school near my home,' Nisha said in a telephone interview.
A colleague of Nisha at Block Resource Centre (BRC) at Neyyattinkara suggested her name for the Victers 'Online' Class. 'They called me on May 20, 2020, and asked me to send a 5-minute video as a sample. Then there was a two-week-long workshop. Initially, I was clueless. They wanted to create video classes for students, that is all I knew. I did not imagine its gravity,' she told mathrubhumi.com
Nisha kept her colleagues and friends in dark about all these. However, she informed her headteacher. 'I did not know if they were going to show my face on the TV. The first class on the first day started with a general subject for both Malayalam and English mediums, led by multiple teachers. My video appeared as the second one. I thought only students will be watching the classes. But parents and other teachers too were watching it. I got so many messages after that,' she says.
Nisha was first noticed by the general public when she did a class on aerobics. It was viral.
'On the second day, they wanted to continue the general class for both English and Malayalam mediums. Many suggestions came up. One said we can air an aerobics class video from YouTube. I immediately told them I know aerobics. Two years ago, I had attended a one-week-long aerobics class organised by the education department. The Physical Education Trainer of our school was on maternity leave. HM asked me to fill her in. I taught my students what I learnt when I came back. We used to have an aerobics assembly in our school once a week. It is really beautiful to see all the kids moving together.'
'I did not know they could cut the shots. I thought everyone was doing it in one stretch. Aerobics demands more physical activity than a regular class. I was exhausted by the end of the class. However, I finished without breaks. Everyone in the studio started clapping when I finished. No one takes classes in one shot, I was told. However, they encouraged me to keep it like that. I still try my best to finish the class without interruptions. It demands more than normal homework.
Issues with online classes
Feedback is the major problem faced by Nisha in online classes.
'At school we get immediate responses from the students. They nod or stay idle. They answer or keep mum. In either case, we know if they are following. It is different in online classes,' she says.
'Each student is different. I have to guess how majority of them may answer to my questions and then create multiple responses. They should not feel I did not speak to them.'
When asked if she is exhausted with all the work, she said 'it is boring if there is no battle. I fear I will lose my youthfulness and creativity if I sit idle. '
Nisha's classes are also famous for her methods.
'By God's grace I can sing and dance decently. I know puppetry as well. I use all my skills to communicate with the kids,' she says. Her most famous and interesting attempt is teaching by singing.
'I teach English through songs. Whatever be the chapter, I just sing it to them. I have found this strategy very useful. Kids like songs, games and stories more than 'chapters'. Through songs, students will learn language from the context. I do this all the time in my school. This is an effective method,' she says.
The song method was found really effective for some students, Nisha says. Parents and students always share their experiences with her.
'A teacher once called me and said his child who did not speak anything till age 3 started to imitate me. Her brother was watching the class and she also started listening to the class one day. The parents put my class on loop. When they contacted me, I sent them the audio version which they even made the ringtone of their mobile. There is a considerable improvement to her speech, they say. I am amazed and humbled to hear such stories.'
'In another incident, an elderly person contacted me. He is from Thrissur. His 21-year-old son is mentally challenged. He started to write my name after watching the classes. I spoke to him through video call. He told me he knew how to write in English and showed me writing my name and also 'Kite Victers'. I was literally crying while seeing that.'
Speaking to mathrubhumi.com, a mother of a class two student from Kozhikode said her daughter could not read certain words and Nisha teacher's songs helped her to overcome the issue.
'Music is the medicine here,' says Nisha. 'I couldn't believe some of these stories initially. I just taught them the way I was teaching my kids at Lourdipuram,' a humble Nisha says.
The story of Ameya
Ameya Abhi, a class three student of GLPS Chelakkara, is a slow learner. Her mother Anuja tells mathrubumi.com: 'Nisha teacher's class was different from others. Ameya enjoyed it really well. She is restless. But she loves songs. She can recall lyrics easily. That is how she was attracted to the teacher's class. Nisha teacher's presentation is also interesting for her. Most of her completed homework from last year was in English.To be frank, I never thought my girl will learn English anytime soon. But the teacher's class made that possible.'
Ameya did not like that Nisha teacher is continuing in class 2 in the 2021 academic year. She called the teacher and said: 'I will come to your house and help you pass class 2. You must come with me to class 3.' And Ameya is serious about it.
Watch classes of Nisha streamed on Kite-Victers: