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Understanding before Teaching

In today’s education system, we believe in holistic development of a child, yet number/grades still remain as the yardstick for comparison between students. Not only peers, even teachers do not give proper attention towards an academically weak students, no matter how good they are in extracurricular activities. This often leads to inferiority complex. They start keeping themselves isolated, remain aloof and bear a pessimistic approach towards everything. In my last ten years of teaching career, amidst various experiences that were good, humorous, irritating and so on, one incident made me believe in G.B. Shaw‘s saying ”Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” 

In 2013, in class 9, I had a back bencher, excluded from the entire class, friendless, submissive and soundless. The results of the first exam gave me a bit of hint about his uncanny attitude.

On one of the occasions my students had collected Rs. 1200/- and kept the money in one of the student’s school bag and left for the games period. After their games period, the student came to know that the money was missing. After lot of interaction with each student, I came to know that only one student was in the class when other students had gone for sports but neither the students nor I doubted this child. But something troubled me and thus I decided   to enquire. When I questioned him, he very politely answered that as he was not feeling well, he stayed back. His answer wasn’t too satisfactory. On checking his bag, I got the answer. To my astonishment the money was there!

My usual nature made me take little more effort to know the reason behind this act. I called him personally and told him that I will give him the option of either speaking the truth or exposing the fact to the higher authorities. After few meetings, I gained his confidence, convinced him that I was there with him which broke the ice between us. He admitted that he was so upset with the behavior of his classmates that he wanted to retaliate by harassing them. He also admitted that he had been stealing their money for the last few months. But he also said that he had realized his mistake. Later he assured he would not to repeat and gave back the money he had taken.

Very soon I could see some positive changes in him. He felt happy that I did not make the incident a big issue, as promised, which gave him confidence to share his problems with me. Slowly but steadily a rapport was built between us. I could see that lost soul was able to find some respite. I was sure the little difference that I had made was negligible. Nevertheless, I continued with my efforts whenever I looked into his seeking eyes.

My endeavor bore fruit when he came and gave a card thanking me as he was leaving the school. It not only gave me immense pleasure but also boosted my morale. It strengthen my conviction that we only live once but if we do it right, once is enough.

Mute Bliss

Teaching class 8G, a bunch of enthusiastic children, is always fun and challenging, but amidst all the fun and learning my students and I learnt a lesson. “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” - William James

It all happened while teaching the lesson “The Beginnings of a Miracle” – Story of Helen Keller. Incidents from Helen Keller’s life deeply touched my heart and soul. As part of our efforts towards holistic development of every child, I took up an initiative and took my students to Ashray Akruti – a school for hearing impaired - children who break the walls of silence.

My students were excited as it was their first field trip that year but the experience at the special school, I am sure, left an indelible impact on these tender minds as they saw how the children, there, need exceptional attention and have to be taught with boundless patience. The students witnessed how these children find it difficult to communicate well as they don’t have the required vocabulary and find it tough to express their thoughts in the form of poems, essays and stories however they are immensely talented in other areas like music, painting and karate. Their great master pieces in paintings and craft articles astounded the little hearts. The students were interactive and light hearted and were overwhelmed by our small gesture as our students donated some stationery and food items.  I silently witnessed the happenings.

It indeed was an awakening experience for my students my ever enthusiastic, excited students, suddenly, mellowed down. The realization that they were a bit more privileged sobered them.

By the time they came out of the school they were moved by the jolt of reality. All of them had one thing to say – “Thank you Lord Almighty for making me who I am!” I could also see pearls dropping from few pairs of eyes. I knew I have done it but Robert Frost’s famous line “And miles to go before I sleep….” hit me hard and I discerned it was just the beginning.

I tried to light the candle in my students’ hearts, the light– beckoning them to tread on the right path.

I strongly feel the jaunt to this special school was rewarding, education is not just that we acquire form books but from our life, which reminds me of Rohn’s words “ Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”

Peep into the Wild






Don’t just teach, learn along with the students.

I never knew the woods and the wild can be so adventurous until I ventured into the wild along with my students of class VIII. My experience as a teacher exploring the nature’s wild beauty along with the students was immense.

I was never very adept at the nature’s incredible flora and fauna, it’s beauty, importance, present day scenario, vitality until I dealt with an English lesson “The Magical Animal” an excerpt from “An Aye-Aye and I” by Gerald Durrell.

As a part of our efforts in maintaining environment and in response to implementing the “green school” initiative, I encouraged my students to intrude into the wild and woods to find out some of nature’s creations which are on the verge of extinction and to create awareness; we surveyed the woods to discover the wild.

Show the way ahead:

I showed them a power point presentation, extensively created on the Aye-Aye, to help the students use it as a stepping stone as they were about to traverse on a new path.

This worked as a stimulus and my students really surprised me with their enthusiasm to explore the finest information. I provided them with a blueprint of the project to help them move ahead with their exploratory research work. During the project, I was always there as a facilitator, guiding, motivating and monitoring the students’ work.

What the students came out with, after a month’s extensive hard work, was highly commendable. Not only did the students probed and searched about various endangered species – their habitats, features, food etc, but also tried to analyses the various reasons behind their becoming endangered.

Share the same with one and all:

Going further, I carried out an activity to share the knowledge with one and all, an activity called, “Awareness Program” was planned. The students were divided into groups and each group was asked to deal with any one of the endangered animal and dive deep to get more details on selected endangered animal.

The road taken:

Activity featured disseminating information found on various endangered species like ‘Grey Whale’, ‘Philippine Monkey eating Eagle’, ‘Kakapo’, ‘Greater Bamboo Lemur’, ‘Orangutan’ and ‘Tarsier’ from classes III - VI. Information was conveyed through charts, posters and narration. The presentations and information on endangered species were well received and led to interactions including question and answers. Many students also gave suggestions on how they would work to save endangered species. Many teachers also actively participated in the program.

Apart from the awareness program, the students also had a debate in the class on the topic “Should animals be caged?” Most of the students spoke against this practice, but some also spoke in favour, justifying their views considering the dangers some of the wild animals face.

Our Toast to the Wild:

This whole process made us find out ways and means to protect these wild fauna and extenuate the causes that are playing a major role in endangering these wild lives so that we can save these nature’s wild treasures from being exterminated.

Destination Reached:

I believe that this approach of going beyond the classroom opened the doors to showcase the latent talent and creativity. This also helped in honing life skills, team work, decision making, problem solving, and public speaking which are the prime skills that is needed to have edge over others.