Final Reflection: Kelley Fowler

            It is crazy to think that it has already been more than a week since I have left India. It was so hard leaving Bangalore after six weeks. I never thought that I would become so attached to such a faraway place, but India is truly such a special place and the people are truly one of a kind. I learned so much during my short time in India but I learned three very important things from the principals, teachers, and students.

            First, I learned the importance of leading others with humility and kindness. I was privileged enough to form relationships with the amazing principals at my school and witness the way that they lead others. For example, Manju Ma’am has the biggest heart and is so passionate about DPS. She started a fundraising campaign for one of her students who was diagnosed with cancer to pay for their medical bills and then continued to raise more money for other children diagnosed with cancer who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. She cares so much about others and shows such kindness to every person in the school community. Additionally, I have learned so much from Geeta Ma’am who became like a second mom to me during my time at DPS-North. She knows every member of the school community including the Aunties, canteen workers, teachers, students and shows such respect to each person. She makes every person feel important and respected no matter their position. For example, each week Geeta Ma’am sold food to the students and staff that she brought from home. She knew every student or staff member who bought food from her. It was amazing to see how kind and loving she was with each student. 

            Secondly, I learned from all the amazing Special Education teachers in the Kindergarten block about how to effectively teach content in creative ways. One of my teachers, Saumya Ma’am, taught math to first through second graders. She made every one of her classes interactive and creative by incorporating manipulatives or fun counting songs. She always had such a positive attitude and was so loving to each of her students. I am going to miss her and all of the other teachers in the Special Education department. They made me feel a part of the team and they are all phenomenal educators!

            Finally, my students reminded me of the joy that can come from learning. My students in the resource room were the most rambunctious, loving, kind and intelligent group of students whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to teach. Each day was filled with new discoveries and they always had so many questions which made each lesson exciting! They challenged me to think more deeply about things and present content in new ways. 

            I am grateful for this experience of a life time! I am so thankful to the College of Education and all of the donors who made this experience possible. Finally, I am grateful to the principals, teachers and students at DPS-North who welcomed us with open arms into their community. I will never forget this experience and my amazing time in India!

Our amazing principal and Special Education Coordinator
My sweet teacher, Saumya
The whole group at Breworks on our last night in Bangalore.
Courtyard at Bangalore Palace


My Final week in India

One of my students gave me this note on my last day.
Some of my sweet students!
The amazing Special Education Department whom I had the privilege to collaborate with these past six weeks!

In ten hours, we will be on a plane leaving India. I am so sad to be leaving Bangalore and all the people who have become family in the short 6 weeks that I have been in India. This past week has been the hardest because I have had to say goodbye to all my teachers, principals and students at DPS-North. I didn’t realize how attached that I would become so attached to the people at DPS. For example, during my presentation on Friday I didn’t realize how emotional it would be for me to share my experience in India and thank all the people who made it so special. There have been so many people who have inspired me whether it be my amazing principals at DPS who have been so welcoming to Emma and me. I have learned from them the importance of leading others with kindness and humility. They both have such huge hearts and care immensely for each member of their school community. Additionally, all the Special Education teachers from Kindergarten to the Senior Block have taught me the importance of collaboration. Especially, the teachers in the kindergarten block because I have spent the most time during my six weeks with them. From the first day, each teacher has welcomed me into their classes by incorporating me into their lessons and making me feel like a part of the team. Also, I am so grateful for the opportunity to have taught the sweetest, kindest and most intelligent group of students. They have reminded me of the joy that comes from learning and have shown me so much kindness. I will miss hearing them say “Hi, Kelley ma’am” every morning and giving them high fives when they solved a tough math problem. Therefore, I am sad to leave India in a few short hours because the people have left such an impact on my heart. It is crazy to think that six weeks ago I had just landed in Bangalore and had no idea the experience that would lie ahead. I remember Gabriella saying during our departure meeting that “India is calling you for a reason”.  Then, I didn’t know exactly why I felt called to come India except that I knew this would be a transformative and amazing experience. This opportunity has exceeded those expectations and given me an experience that is hard to put into words. My time in India has been a blur of growth, excitement, love and humility. I have had experiences that have challenged my misconceptions and have seen firsthand the beauty of this country. I am grateful to Mizzou for providing me with this opportunity to teach in India for six weeks. I wish that every future educator had this opportunity to teach in an international setting because it helps teachers learn the power of cultural exchange and seeking to understand rather than be understood. I am grateful to the entire team at Gen X for organizing this experience and especially Sheral who has been like a second mom in India! Finally, I want to thank DPS-North for welcoming me into their school community especially Geeta Ma’am, Manju Ma’am, Preethi Ma’am, Agnes Ma’am and Ayesha Ma’am for being the best host teachers. I will be eternally grateful to these people whom made my experience in India so incredible and unforgettable!

Kelley Fowler: Week #6

It is hard to believe that it is our last week in India! I am dreading saying goodbye to my students on Friday. Last weekend, we visited Mysore and an elephant sanctuary. It was wonderful driving through the countryside. The scenery was so lush and green. Additionally, it was interesting learning about the history of Mysore. Then on Sunday, we visited the elephant sanctuary. It was amazing being so up, close and personal with these beautiful creatures.  On the way back from the elephant sanctuary, we stopped at a Buddhist monastery. It was amazing seeing the beautiful statues of the gods and goddesses adorned in the temple. Also, I learned about how parents can drop their children off at the monastery when there young and once they get older the children can choose to leave. I had never been to a Buddhist monastery before, so the experience was eye-opening seeing how another religion worships and shows respect. Then, on Sunday we returned to Bangalore and returned to school on Monday. My students were so excited to see pictures of the elephants and talk with me about it. I taught a lesson on place value to my second graders in the resource room. I had so much fun teaching them using base ten blocks and hundred blocks. The blocks were very effective in explaining how to add hundreds, tens and ones. Additionally, the students had fun using the blocks to add the numbers and forming a deeper understanding of place value. The students were so excited that I was teaching and couldn’t stop raising their hands. I loved feeding off their energy and excitement it made the lesson so much fun to teach.  I also enjoyed collaborating with the other teacher on creating the lesson. I have learned so much from the teachers in the resource room about the importance of thinking off your feet and making lessons interactive. For example, one of my teachers is constantly incorporating creative ways of teaching concepts such as using manipulatives. Additionally, she is so loving and makes each student feel important. I have learned from her the importance of forming relationships with each student and radiating positivity in your classroom. Over the course of these past six weeks, I have formed close relationships with each of my students. I am going to miss seeing there smiling faces every morning and hear them saying “ma’am, ma’am” to me. I am going to miss eating lunch with the teachers and learning about there lives. The teachers have welcomed me with open arms into their classroom and allowed me to learn from them. They have all inspired me with their passion and compassion for their students. This experience has been transformative, and it is entirely due to the staff and students at DPS-North. They have made me feel so welcomed into the school community. India is such a beautiful and special place.  I am going to soak up every last second of this trip and cherish each moment spent with my students!

Kelley Fowler: Week #5

Last Thursday, we arrived in Delhi and went to Amity University. At the college, Chad gave a presentation on Bullying and we shared our experiences in India thus far to a group of pre-service teachers. The faculty, staff and students were so welcoming to all of us. I was nervous speaking at the podium but quickly became more comfortable as the presentation progressed. It was interesting to hear about the structure of the teacher preparation program in India and talk with other preservice teachers. Additionally, I like how they put an emphasis on there teacher’s teaching in both private and government schools. This is similar to Mizzou’s education program in which they require students to teach in a variety of different types of schools. I think that by exposing students to a variety of school environments it makes the teachers more equipped to handle the needs of all students. The next day, we visited the USIEF Center and the American Center which is a branch of the U.S Embassy. At USIEF, representatives from Fulbright gave a presentation on its English Teaching Assistantship program in India. After hearing about the program, I became extremely interested in the ETA program because I have been seeking an experience after graduation that would combine both my passion for cultural immersion and teaching. After USIEF, we went to the American Center and spoke with the U.S diplomats. They shared their duties as diplomats and the English language programs that they run for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in India. I was so inspired by their dedication to creating positive ties between the U.S and India. Then that night we left for Agra and stayed at a beautiful hotel. The next morning, we made it to the Taj Mahal which was an unreal and amazing experience.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would see the Taj Mahal! I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the vastness of it. Additionally, it was interesting to learn about the history of the Taj and how it was constructed as a tomb for the emperor’s wife. Additionally, I learned that the Taj took 22 years to be constructed which is unbelievable to think about. Then afterwards, we went shopping at a couple of local artisan shops. We learned about the Parchin kari marble inlay which is seen on the Taj Mahal. I fell in love with the beauty and history of their artwork. I was so impressed by the dedication of the artisans to their work and how long it takes to construct one piece. Then on our last day in Delhi, we shopped at an open-air market for a couple of hours. There were so many different types of items at the market such as kurtas, spices, artwork and statues. I bought so many souvenirs for my family and friends. I had the best time in Delhi and was sad to leave but also very excited to return to my students. It is crazy how fast this experience has flown by and that there are only two weeks left. I am going to cherish every second that I have left in Bangalore and at my host school!

Kelley Fowler: First week of Teaching

            I am amazed that we have completed are first week teaching in India! This week was full of lots of new faces, experiences and becoming more acclimated with DPS. As the week progressed, I found myself feeling more comfortable in the classroom and taking more initiative in teaching lessons. I spent most of my time this week teaching in the Kindergarten block with students from Kindergarten through second grade in a resource room. In this resource room, there are three teachers who are each teaching groups of 10-15 students at the same time. I have learned a lot from these teachers of about the importance of collaboration and being self-reflective. Due to the teachers all working in the same room, the teachers are constantly collaborating with each other on lesson plans and how to deal with certain students. I haven’t ever been in a school where special educators are this collaborative but instead in the U.S teachers are more isolated in their own classrooms. Additionally, I have learned a lot from the Resource teachers on the importance being self-reflective on yourself as an educator and constantly adjusting lessons in order to better support your students. For example, one of the teachers taught a lesson to a new group of students on place value and after the lesson approached me asking how I thought it went. She was genuinely interested in how to improve her teaching and better explain the concept to her students in a fun, interesting way. I have learned that as an educator it is vital to constantly be reflective about your teaching and be ok with making mistakes. I would like my future school that I teach in to place a strong emphasis on collaboration and self-reflection. I have enjoyed every second spent in the classroom working with the teachers and teaching the students. Additionally, I have felt very welcomed by the teachers at DPS-North and included in the school environment. The teachers at DPS-North are so eager to learn about the Special education system in the states and how it is structured. For example, DPS-North had an Autism empowerment program for the parents to gain more tools to support their children and feel more included in the school environment. An expert on Autism came to DPS to give this presentation and I learned so much from this program on how to better support these students. Then at the end of her presentation, the principal asked me to come up to give my opinions on how to work with children who have Autism and my viewpoints on special education. It was amazing to see how much the teachers valued my input and my own experiences working with students who have disabilities. I am so lucky to be able to teach in a different cultural setting and am excited to bring back the new teaching practices that I have learned back to the states. I have learned so much already from this experience thus far and am excited for the next week of teaching. 

Kelley Fowler Week #1

It is hard to believe that we have already completed are first week in India. I have learned so much about the India educational system through visiting both “public” and “government” schools. In India, “public” schools are paid before by parents instead of in the U.S where public schools are free. While “Government” schools are free and are attended by students from poorer backgrounds. On Wednesday, I started my first day at Delhi Public School- Bangalore North and got acclimated with the school environment. I am so impressed with the inclusive environment for both students and staff with disabilities at DPS-BN. I was able to spend time with different special educators in the department. The first few days, I spent time in the primary block with two special educators who teach in a resource similar to U.S where students are pulled out during class periods to get extra support from the special educators. I was impressed by the teacher’s ability to think on their feet and the relationships each teacher had formed with their students. I was impressed with the amount of respect that these students had for their teachers and their eagerness to learn. I had so much fun talking with the students and answering their questions about America.  Additionally, I was able to observe one of the extended curriculum classes which is offered for students who have minimal learning gaps and is taught in smaller settings. The teacher said that students from these classes after given remedial help are always brought back into mainstream classes. It was interesting to see how they adjust curriculum for students who are struggling to bring them back to grade level. Additionally, during the first few days I was able to observe the music class which is taught by Ritvik who is visually impaired and his mother. The students were so attentive and excited to learn from them. I learned so much by speaking to his mom about Ritvik’s life. Ritvik has been singing since the age of two and he has a magnificent voice. He doesn’t know how to read but he can sing in eight languages. I was so impressed by Ritvik’s extraordinary talent and his mother’s fierce love for him. Finally, we were able to visit and teach at a government school. I taught a group of fifth graders singing songs like head, shoulders and playing games like Pictionary. The students were so bright and so excited to learn. They were so excited to meet Americans and learn about us.  I had the best time laughing, playing and teaching them. It was humbling experience visiting the government school and seeing the amount of limited resources. However, I could tell the staff who taught and worked with them were very passionate about the students whom they served. I doubt that I will ever forget that experience and those students for the rest of my life.  Being in India, has broadened my perspective on the world and how other people live. I have already learned so much thus far from this experience and am so excited to begin week two. 

Kelley Fowler: First Reflection

In the next three weeks, I will be boarding a plane to India which is so surreal. I never dreamed that I would ever be able to travel to India but due to the amazing help from the College of Education, Gabrielle and all the donors this trip was made possible. In preparation for the trip, I have been reading books about Indian culture and current issues that are affecting the country. I have gained a lot of insight about the country and the differences/similarities between the U.S. However, I understand that no amount of reading will prepare me for the experience that lies ahead. As I sit here anticipating my upcoming journey, I am filled with so much excitement about student teaching alongside special educators at DPS-North and all the amazing people whom I will meet during my six weeks in India. I foresee that this experience will have a transformative effect upon my self-efficacy as a future special educator and as a person. I am most excited about the people I will meet, the things that I will see and the memories that I will make. I know that I will experience challenges in adjusting to the language barrier, the food and new cultural customs. I am prepared to meet these cultural differences by keeping an open mind and try to learn more about the cultural customs. I can learn more about the Indian Cultural through getting to know people in the new setting and respectfully ask questions. Additionally, I can overcome the language barrier by being respectful, trying to learn some basic conversational words and learn to be ok with making mistakes. I am nervous about how I will assimilate into the school community and Indian culture. However, I know that these challenges will only make me more compassionate, better and more knowledgeable of India’s unique cultural heritage. As a pre-service teacher, I have only taught within the American Education System and therefore I am excited to see how other countries education systems function. Specifically, how students with disabilities are taught in other countries and different perspectives on Special Education. I cannot wait to share American traditions with the students and staff at DPS-North. Likewise, I am excited to learn from my students and the school personnel at DPS-North. Furthermore, I am excited to share my experiences in India with my students in the fall at Oakland Middle School and broaden their perspective on the world. I believe that the experience abroad will ensure that I am a more culturally competent and more compassionate teacher. I think that these two traits are essential for effectively teaching and developing strong relationships with students. Especially, teaching in the U.S which is such a diverse country with people who have a variety of different cultural backgrounds.Therefore, it is critical to be exposed to other cultural groups and new experiences that broaden one’s perspective. Finally, I think that by approaching this experience with flexibility, respect, compassion, and a willingness to understand then it will make this trip transformational.