By Namrata Kulkarni, Classroom Teacher
The Resident Program at UCDS has been one of the most amazing teaching programs I have ever come across in my life. From the opportunity to spend a full academic year in a classroom to being a hands-on teacher are some of the absolute perks of this intensive year. I have had the benefit of being a resident at our partner school in India and now have had the chance to be a mentor to new residents here at UCDS. The experience has been life changing. With every new resident I have mentored, I have learnt some really big life lessons.
The first one is to be flexible; Co-teaching with a new teacher every year has not only made me flexible, but it has also taught me why being flexible is such an important part of building these teaching relationships. When you work with a co-teacher, it is of utmost importance to remember that they have ideas too. The give and take of ideas, the ability to blend ideas, accept an idea you might not be fully invested in and also allow your resident to have the chance to take risks and learn are just some of the things I have learnt. It is hard to let go of control, but it is equally important to trust your teaching partner.
The second is to be patient; Every new resident I work with comes with their own speed of executing ideas, their own way of thinking and their own way of planning a certain task. I have learnt to be patient along this journey, pause and listen to them as well as acknowledge the individual differences we each get to celebrate.Being patient has taught me that the best ideas often come when you pause, listen and just wait a minute for the other person to completely flush their plan out. It has been worth it.
Third, I have learned to love teaching more every year; A new resident every year not only challenges me as a teacher, but it also makes me realize how much I enjoy teaching these kids. A resident brings a fresh wave or ideas, a big basket of great questions and the enthusiasm and passion that only reignites me with new energy. Their questions make me rethink my ways of teaching and make me always ask myself why I do something the way I do and is there a different way I can do this. I am constantly given a chance to rewire my brain and it is absolutely refreshing.
Co-teaching has indeed been the biggest gift of my life. I am grateful for this growth and this chance to mentor some fantastic residents. As teachers, I think it is really important to show our kids that grown-ups also share, are flexible, exchange ideas and sometimes disagree too! Having a co-teacher in my classroom has allowed me to model this for my class. Like one of my students said recently; “ Namu, you and Elisse are really like friends. You shared your stapler with her just like I did with Sammy. You took turns!”.
Tiny thing, big moment!