Because we all have different ideas of what “normal” is, it is nearly impossible to pin down a definition. Nothing and no one is “normal.”
What is normal to you may not be normal to others. I began thinking about if normal actually exists while teaching the school dance company here in India where I am working. During a lesson, I started to make a comparison of what your body should look like to a certain food in order to give the students a visual. However, right before I said it, my brain stopped me and I asked myself whether the students would connect to a vocabulary that may be culturally specific. Yes, they probably know what this food is, but I realized in that split second that it would not resonate with them. Instead, I changed it to the staple food of Southern India—rice. This visual worked for them and the concept “clicked.” It was a good reminder to me that what is commonplace for me and any American child is not so in another country. Many of the teaching methods I have learned in school simply don’t work as effectively here. I am still figuring out what works through trial and error. I often ask my friend, who is from India and is teaching with me, if the teaching methods or devices I have to teach a concept are something the students would understand.
As teachers, we want to be fair and nonjudgmental, but we can’t treat every student the same because they are all unique and have different needs. The most important element is to remember who your “audience” is and teach through words and concepts that resonate with them. Remember that what is “normal” to you may not be so ordinary to them.
So far, it has been both a difficult and a rewarding experience in India and I expect both of these feelings to continue while I’m here. I hope this experience will help me become adaptable and able to teach any group of students.
“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” – Vincent Van Gogh