Being a student and being a teacher

I loved school. Everything about it. Packing my bag with two neat columns of books and running to catch the bus are things that I fondly remember. I even skipped important family functions happening in my own house to attend school. Whenever I do miss a school day, there is this constant anxiety. I think of all the things I am going to miss. Oh, now the teacher might be doing the roll call and she has discovered I have not come! Now Math Class is going on and Ma’am might be teaching something new; I will have to compete the notes tomorrow. I wonder who win will today’s volleyball match. I think what my friend has brought for lunch.

And now I am a teacher. It has been about 6 months. And I am failing terribly. My class is in chaos most of the time. The job has tested my limits and uncovered my weaknesses. Every morning I think how my fourth graders are going to surprise me today. I dread who is going to disrupt the class in the most creative way. Apart from the class, I find it arduous to keep myself motivated. I need to keep reminding myself of the reason I am doing this, several times a day. I am surrounded by people who are doing good or great. Many kids from other classes are doing long division or showing great theatrical skills on stage. And here I am struggling to make them sit for few minutes and listen to me.  Sometimes I need to do a quick reality check to know if I exist as a physical entity with life or as an invisible ghost that my students cannot see or hear.

But then I feel, it is okay. If you are insecure, you are not in your comfort zone. It is critical for you to be in that state from time to time. It will help you grow.

What experiences make us who we are? I don’t remember most of the mundane days at school. May it is these days that has unknowingly shaped me. Or is it those few moments which you do remember? That image of my teacher smiling at me when I told a correct answer. Or that of my friend grinning from ear to ear for an unknown reason while having lunch. These small glimpses of the past have stuck in my head and I know not why. Or is it big moments – performing on stage, receiving a prize, a field trip that makes you – you. And certainly, it is not just the school that affects the child. Home, community play major roles too. So, now I wonder what experience have I provided for my students and what will they remember. Just keep the hopes alive, I tell myself.

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A rare picture of students sitting

4 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I loved your comments above. I could feel your desire to teach being mixed with dread as the children messed about. You wanted them to learn, they wanted to enjoy themselves and when to two aims are not co-incident they didn’t learn and you became stressed.
    Practice, practice, just like the children who have to learn their sums over and over to be become confident with numbers.
    I think your blog is a great way of sharing a life that you are just passing through.

    1. Hey,
      Thank you for reading and caring enough to comment. It is quite a task to make them learn. And yes, I am learning with them too. I guess consistency in my actions is the key.

      1. Hi,
        I wonder if you know about Ramanujan, born in 1887, who lived in Kumbakonam, on the Cauvery river delta south of Chennai? He went on to be a world famous mathematician. His story is wonderfully told by Robert Kanigel in this book (recently made into a film as well) ‘The Man who Knew Infinity’. Very inspiring.
        Looking at a picture of you teaching behind gates with the children sitting on the floor made me think of him, because he started school on October 1st, 1892 in the local pial school (just a teacher meeting a few pupils in the porch of a south Indian house. Not much has changed, perhaps.
        Regards,
        Richard

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