After five years at Friendship, my students have become like a family to me because when we came to this country, we didn’t know anyone. It is rewarding when my students come back to visit after having started college.
What was your journey to your current position?
I’m originally from India, and I completed my Master’s in Mathematics from Delhi University. I also completed a second Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2013. I started teaching at the private high school in India where I had attended all those years ago. My husband, Vikrant, encouraged me to explore teaching options outside of India. In 2009 I found an opportunity to teach middle school math at Prince George’s County. Even though I had nine years of teaching experience in India, the teaching style, culture, and the new system was very different and made the transition a bit challenging. My husband asked me if I wanted to go back. I said, “No, I didn’t take up this challenge just to quit. I will not give up. I will learn every day and develop my expertise.”
I knew that I had strong content knowledge, and students had always been receptive to my teaching style. I knew my strengths, I knew my weaknesses. I tell my students today that it is very important to first identify the problem. If we do not know what the problem is, we cannot fix it. I started observing my colleagues. I even took notes on every statement they made in response to what a student asked if my responses were not working. After this, my teaching greatly improved, and students began to respect me and became more receptive to my teaching. I also structured my lessons to be more activity oriented, whereas in India, we practice more direct teaching methods. I taught at Prince George’s County for three and a half years, but because my expertise was in higher level math, I took the opportunity to teach at Friendship Collegiate in 2012.
After five years at Friendship, my students have become like a family to me because when we came to this country, we didn’t know anyone. It is rewarding when my students come back to visit after having started college. They say, “Ms. Bhasin, we are enrolled in a calculus class and know the content well. Now we are helping out our peers.” When I hear this, I feel like I have made a real difference. Last year, I was a Teacher of the Year finalist for Friendship Collegiate Academy. Needless to say, I have grown a lot from when I first moved to the United States.
What strategies have helped you to be successful?
There are so many factors which have contributed to my success. These are the main factors:
I tell my students that the process on Day 1 will also be the same process on Day 180. The procedures and rules will never change.
I tell my students that they have to be highly organized in order to be successful and properly prepare for exams.
We need to make students know that we care about them, and we want them to be successful. I offer afterschool tutoring two or three times a week. I also share my own personal story with them. They know that I came from a very different world, and that I was able to overcome large challenges. This motivates them.
Are there any resources you would recommend for teachers?
Khan Academy is a great resource because they have connections with the College Board. It is a personalized, free program for students to prepare for AP exams, SATs, and PSATs. It is also a helpful support system for the content covered in class.
What do you like about Friendship?
Friendship is very close to my heart because my colleagues and supervisors are all great people. We offer each other support and appreciation regularly. I am so grateful to have been allowed the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally at Friendship. I am especially grateful for the support I have received from Dr. Shairzay, my academy director. Dr. Shairzay has guided me through every step of my journey at Friendship.