Anupam has been in teaching for ten years, giving life training along with language training. She believes in the collective consciousness.
I need to share with you all how this idea cropped into my mind. As usual, I was trying to find my real identity in the heart of my students who are just the driving force of my life.
While going through a few posts on Facebook my mind was blocked at a post of one of my oldest students who has become a real star on entertainment media by now. I felt proud to find one of my students tasting his peak of success with many awards in dance forms and many other accolades. But when I tried to interact with him I found a sort of coldness there. I had been so attached with that class, that being my first experience in high school that I can remember each and every student with face and tell about his or her character accurately.
I remember how I struggled to teach them in the beginning as I didn't know where to start. There wasn't any basic knowledge of English and I had to teach the work of Shakespeare in that class (As You Like It) in Shakesperean language. I couldn't make it as interesting as I can make it now with my journey of more than a decade in teaching. Moreover, it was too difficult to manage the strength of 55 students in a period of fifty minutes. Though most of the time we were given two periods together. Neither the authorities nor the parents approved me giving the basic knowledge of the language to students. For all of them, that was out f the syllabus and I only had to complete the syllabus. No one was bothered whether the students got something or not. I hadn't the school at that time for any income or to choose it as a profession. I had joined the school just because I was passionate about teaching. To be honest, my salary then was half the amount of what my full-time maid used to get for cooking and looking after the kids at home.
I had to scold a lot to manage the class (Now I know that was my worst mistake done in the past). This is the reason the students still remember me as a teacher who shouted a lot. They don't remember any of the motherly chats we had then. They don't remember the raw poetries of mine that I shared with them. They don't remember how I shared each and every experiences of my childhood and other lessons that I had learned from my past. Yes, that was the beginning of mine to understand the teenagers other than what I have seen within me a decade back.
This is the moment I decided to talk with all the students from the past that I could reach and prepare a sort of case story of each of them along with the exploration of my own journey as a teacher.
Atharva Dolas (2012- 2013)
I was the class teacher of his class in 9th grade of batch (2012-2013). I had not even completed my graduation at that time but got an opportunity to work in this school just because I was very passionate about teaching. The principal of the school was a sort of ideal man who was respected by each and every staff there.
But there was one thing which was killing me while dealing with a class filled with fifty-five noisy teenagers, was there any way to deal with them, could I use such sort of technique which might benefit all of them? That was a mix up of various sorts of students. If I speak roughly, there were 10 excellent students in academics which could crack every kind of Olympiads, 10 were so poor at language skills that I failed to make them write or speak correctly even a few sentences despite several efforts, and the rest of them were clueless about anything. They were just ready to move with the flow and at that time I really didn't have any experience with the teenagers because of a lonely childhood in the residential school.
This batch taught me numerous things in just one year. It was this boy who was a sort of good student in his class. I had to shout so much in the class that I used to lose my voice for several days and then to dictate the answers I had to randomly select a few children who could dictate the answers.
This boy who used to be so shy and docile while he was a young teenager has become an excellent dancer with international fame. And unfortunately, he remembers me as a teacher who shouted a lot and made him to dictate the answers. Though I remember the other name "Sidhant Rana" whom I asked to dictate as he was a kind of fast writer in his scribbled handwriting.
Mohit Singh Walia (2012- 2013)
I really felt delighted to see this child moulding into a beautiful butterfly from a slow and steady caterpillar. To see him flying high above in the sky with his dreams. To see him filled with immense confidence and self spirit with vigorous energy. I remember him as a student who was not ready to speak in front of anyone. What he could say in a private was so tough for him to be said in the classroom that he just never uttered a single word in the class.
Today he has a huge fan following with millions of people lending their eyes and ears to his shows.
Abhishek Kachhela (2016 - 2017)
That little naughty boy with mischievous eyes in his twelfth grade was a sort of miracle or rescue for me in the year 2016 when I joined as the class teacher of 12th grade. Teaching them the poem of John Donne was not so difficult as they could get the meaning of the mystical poem even ignoring the words.
This was the batch who brought a sort of transformation within me. I could see my younger self in the batch of fourteen students in which every character was unique. I don't know how much they were able to get my words but the love and respect I received from this set of students is beyond the limits that I still preserve in some corner of my memory. I found a sort of true friends in them who not only valued literature but also tried to contribute in their own ways.
In the words of Abhishek
"There are some philosophical quotes and sayings regarding time as "time is the best healer" or "time and tide wait for none". Throughout my journey from a teenager to an adult I have formed and believed "time is the best teacher". By god's grace, I haven't faced any major challenges in my life yet but few phases have for sure twisted the situations and comfort in a Topsy turvy form. I have been through situations where I would want revenge or payback and then there's now when I prioritise my mental peace and serenity. Since teenage i.e some 6-8 years I have had new experiences, new people, new problems and new solutions to it. The greatest support system in my transformation from a rebellion kid to a mature adult my friend, family, teachers and most importantly my boarding school have played a major role to mould me in the form I'm.
I surely remember and regret being an impulsive and rebellion kind of a kid, where I completely saw things in Black or white. From being completely dependent on someone to be an independent personality my journey has been through an emotional and psychological roller coaster. Learnt new experiences, new lessons and most importantly I have been introduced with the greyscale of life unveiling the colours of life and humanity.
My limitations and my struggles were absolutely within me itself. It is me who has constantly been the hurdles for my own development. Having a stagnant and algae perspective and approach towards things has made things and scenarios difficult for me. According to me learning new thing is necessary new dropping the old and wrong on is much more difficult and challenging than the former.
Thank you for all your support in one of the most important years of my life. Miss u ma'am"
Ayush Thakur (2017- 2018)
One of the most mischievous classes with a lot of complaints from all the teachers. But surprisingly, the class behaved as one of the best class of mine in my presence. It was a class of ninth-grade of 2017 batch. I was the mentor of the class. The students were so close to me that I really felt that they all were my own children. And the result was clear, the parents were really very happy and satisfied with the result of English and the improvement of language skills of their children while kept on complaining for the other subject teachers.
Among them was a brave warrior Ayush Thakur, a tall and astute child but the one who was so naive that he was considered the sole culprit for every group misconduct. I didn't want this child to bend toward any negative addiction, whether it be company of such people or such behaviour. I tried a sort of personal counselling with this child and he accepted how immature he was to fall prey to the planning of his friends. Teenagers are in some other fancy world of their own most of the time. He too was the same. But he realized it himself that getting busy in the things that was not fruitful for his age should be stopped. I was not in contact with him for one year. Once he got his tenth result, he called me with full enthusiasm showing his gratitude.
His those words will be there with me forever. "Mam, without you, it was not possible. You are not less than a mother to me."
Getting such words from our students is indeed a great achievement.
Aashna Verma (2017-18)
She used to be a very shy girl but one of the most dignified and well-mannered student of her class. She could answer the questions in a unique manner but her brightness created a sort of hindrance in making an appropriate rapport with her batchmates. They used to mock at her calling her with the name "teacher's doll". She became so depressed that she had to take the help of a psychiatrist to come out of that psychological pain.
When I came to know about that I spoke with her personally and fortunately, those words help her to look into herself once again ignoring all the critical comments made by her acquaintances. In no time, she was back in form and brighter than before.
"I grew up in a household where I was taught to treat everyone with respect and politeness. Although these values are important, they made me forget to stand up for myself. Growing up, my biggest struggle was to say "no" to a person. I could never stand up for myself because I thought it would be rude and impolite. My family recognised that I was struggling with this issue, and decided to help me out with it. They would tell me about their experiences with overcoming the nervousness and motivate me to not feel invalid for having my own opinion. Till date, my mother has supported me in all aspects. No matter what, she would be standing right beside me, cheering and motivating me. As a teenager, I was confused and clueless about who I really was. My identity was whatever my peers' identity was. Their opinion was my opinion. But as I grew, I learnt to listen to my inner voice, I tried different tasks to figure out my likes and dislikes. Different interactions with my friends, teachers and relatives taught me huge lessons. Although there were times when I was unsure of what I was doing, the support from my teachers and parents helped me to keep going. Learning to set boundaries but at the same time trying to step out of my comfort zone was a very complicated process. But now over the years, as I am on my way to becoming a young adult I seem to be finding a balance that I have always been looking for. There's so much more to learn, but the journey of transforming from a teenager to a young adult has taught me that it is going to incredibly exciting and challenging!
Just a few years ago, I was a shy, nervous student who didn't have any self-confidence. I was constantly doubting every step I took. But today, I have grown and learnt a lot. I gained the self-confidence that helps me to portray my talents and strengths in an amazing way. I am now comfortable in my own skin and proud of myself. I learnt how to step out of my comfort zone. The experiences I gained by engaging in activities I was once quite scared of helped me understand that the only thing that was holding me back was my own self."
Beauty Sinha (2017-18)
For every teacher, who is willingly doing its job of learning and sharing everyday, the students mean everything.Being a passionate and keen learner, I too feel my students are my Guru, who enrich me with their unique perceptions, language and understanding. Thus, every year we are the better version of ourselves. First day of my class in tenth grade, year 2016, as I entered in the class and found a lot of noise I made the students to be quiet with a brief introduction. What I have found, the majority of the students get sincere when they are in 10th. I started the class with some informal interaction and then asked the students to concentrate on the lecture. I found a few students writing something while I was explaining a poem. I went to them and asked them to close the other book and participate in the discussion.I found there was a girl, who was still having some other subject book there. My ego was hurt, "how dare she not listen to me when everyone has done so". I went to her and said, "Don't you listen what I said? Can't you show your respect to the words of a teacher?"She was a teenager, a very beautiful and innocent looking girl with a thick single pony tied on her back. She murmured something that I didn't listen but got very angry. And made up in my mind that 'this girl is never going to listen to me as she herself is so good at speaking and writing, she doesn't need me. May be this is the reason she behaved in this way."There comes my learning what I had from such a pure soul. She didn't say anything wrong when she murmured, she just meant that she was not looking at the book but listening to me so she was not bothered about what was there on the desk. I came to know about this when I got the notebooks of the students for homework correction. I was mesmerized to find a notebook with exquisite handwriting and impressive answers. It turned out to be the notebook of the same girl. When I called her to collect the notebook, I interacted with her in private for some time, where she not only disclosed what she meant that day but also asked for forgiveness. Since then I remember her for her humility and innocent attitude. She was the topper of tenth grade in the school.
A Letter of Gratitude which Fulfilled All My Dreams
It was in the year 2016 when I joined as a Post Graduate teacher in DAV School, New Panvel. I was so much with energy and vigour that I wanted to bring a revolution in the education system. I was determined to bring the positive changes forgetting that I couldn't do anything all alone.
Neither the authorities nor the parents were ever ready to change the ancestral way of educating our children in which everyone has forgotten the real purpose of education. Most of the people believe that the sole purpose of education is passing the examination and getting a degree from it for the various professions. When people just learn for the sake of examination, they become lazy and wish to have everything to be fed by a silver spoon. Even the secondary and senior secondary students ask for the answers to all the questions of literature lessons from the teachers, just because they themselves don't want to do that. I had a different opinion. I always wanted my students to be capable of presenting their answers on their own rather than mugging up any given answer.
Yes, it takes a little more effort from the teachers, especially when the class strength is more than half a century. However, I loved doing this and while I did it, I was more close to my students. Among them is the one from the year 2016 batch named "Shruti". A quiet and charming girl with expressive eyes. I still remember her brilliant eyes, which were engrossed in every discussion of the class. She sent me this letter of gratitude on the occasion of Guru Purnima. When I read this letter I was in tears. This sense of gratitude is indeed priceless. I was overwhelmed with her response as these days I had a pinch of feeling that I was not able to bring any change in the system, not having the power or wealth to do so. But such responses when I got from a few more I started to hunt for those connections which were lost somewhere in the memory.
Hold on, please! I didn't want to boast how much my students loved and appreciated me. Here I could not even share the feedback or review of 0.001 per cent of the students that I have dealt with in the past decade.
I have been rebuked, criticised, mocked and humiliated by many of the students and parents as well just for some or the petty issues. But that's true every year I could see myself as the better version of mine with the help of the new set of students I was gifted with.
Thanks to each and everyone of them.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Anupam Mitu