Thursday, September 27, 2007

Teaching Experience -2

As a teacher there have been times when I have lost patience and reprimanded my students for their mistakes. Normally they take my outbursts in their stride because they know that I have their welfare in mind. There have been a few times when I have been answered back and I too have been able to understand that the particular student has been under some stress and has thus vented out her frustration. Luckily such occasions have been rare and usually after such an outburst the student becomes more motivated and makes an effort to show a remarkable improvement in her performance. I am particular that students do not copy diagrams from the book but try to draw scientific diagrams of what they actually see and this frustrates them a lot. They have no way out and I do not usually give in. Similarly I do not dictate notes or give them a list of important questions nor do I encourage them to take tuitions. Agreed, I am an outdated teacher – a living fossil - but at least I have enabled a few of my students to think. In the three years they spend with us a fondness sets in and in the final year we are almost friends and in their lighter moments they do share with us information about the nick names they’ve given us and what they find funny about us. The thought that I have to leave all this behind in about 3 years time weighs heavy in my mind. But isn’t it true that good times like bad ones do not last for ever? It is strange that all of us in the department are like minded and the kindred spirit that we share has been passed on to our students too. The job has been a fulfilling one in many ways, though frustrating in a few areas - thanks to the government or rather the lack of it. We do not get bright sparks for students but most are sincere and it definitely pays to be sincere and dedicated. When average students pass out in flying colors we do not need any monetary incentives.

The current batch final year students are a good bunch. So I was surprised that a good many turned up late for a practical class. Even after coming they did not start work and their indifference put me off. I scolded them for being late and said that I’d be taking a viva-voce at the end of the period before giving them their attendance. They worked silently, no smile, no consultations, no doubts….

I wondered if I had over reacted. The entire group was behaving like a set of robots. Finally I got up to ask questions based on the practical. I thought I saw tears in the eyes of a particularly bright student.

“Is anything wrong?” I asked.

“No, ma’am” was the reply.

I then saw that a few others also had tears in their eyes. I felt guilty for having scolded them. These were a group of sincere students and I had scolded them for their first mistake instead of giving them a chance.

“Are you girls upset that I scolded you?” I asked. By now 50% of the class was crying. This was an unexpected reaction. My HOD was watching everything with concern in her eyes.

Finally their story came out in bits and pieces. They had obtained their Part II mark sheets and many had scored less than what they had got in Part I. They were very disappointed and had been upset when they came to class. They were late on account of having to stand in a queue to get their mark sheets and my outburst had only added fuel to fire.

My heart went out to them. I told them that it was better that their Part II results were not as expected. They had a whole year to work hard and improve their scores. A high score may have made them over confident. My HOD added that they needed to be strong and learn to face adverse situations since life was full of surprises. I granted them permission to stop me mid sentence if ever I scolded them and they had a valid explanation to offer. The class then dispersed with their mood sobered and a determination to put in their best in the coming year.

25 comments:

Joy said...

:) A truely inspiring teacher is asset to have. They inculcate the interest in subject and make learning fun. Later in my college, I used to like courses with no text books, even though there were only handful of them. I still remember what I learnt.

Don't feel bad of leaving the profession in few years. You can start spreading your wisdom online. We would all love to gain some.

artnavy said...

This is why they say teaching is a noble profession

vishesh said...

wish we had teachers like that...sigh :)

Usha said...

It is wonderful to know there are teachers like you and your colleagues in the department who are receptive to the students and their psychology rather than just filling their heads with concepts. may your tribe increase.

Prats said...

All our student lives, we craved to have teachers such as you...we did get a few, whom we cherish even now....but I must say , you must be proud.
We need more teachers like you out here...
All the best!!

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
Nice of you to give me credit.I wonder if my students will.I hope so.Thanks a lot and I hope I continue to do justice to my profession.

Deepa Krishnan said...

I enjoyed this piece very much. My parents are both teachers, so I can relate to this!

Tys on Ice said...

we need more teachers like you...dedicated, nobel and human...

Pillpopper said...

HHG, that was an inspiring blog. Your students are really lucky. Boohoo .. I am missing my students. I have half a mind to go back to work.

Hip Grandma said...

hi all,
Teaching does not enjoy the respect it once did and that is perhaps 'cos only those who don't make it big take up teaching.off to Darjeeling for a week.After i return i plan to take this up.Let us find out how this situation may be rectified.

Hip Grandma said...

DEEPA KRISHNAN,PRATS, WELCOME HERE.

Niall said...

Firstly..thank you for visiting my blog..I notice various contributors here who visit me too!I have my friend Preeti to thank for that..I have come into contact with so many wonderful people and having met preeti asnd Satish, I am all the richer as a person!..I truely intend to visit India someday soon ..

Janani said...

teaching is a very good job, i am contemplating teaching prek kids

kurrodu said...

It was nice that you empathised with the students. It reminded me of my English ma’m who used to instill confidence in us, every time we face ourselves in a low situation like this. I feel this is required of every teacher. Unfortunately, a few of my other teachers bore “Don’t care attitude”. Their only concern was to complete their planned portions in the curriculum on time and fail to address the emotional state of the students before they begin their classes. I guess you belong to the breed of inspiring good teachers, whose words students often recollect, when they find themselves in a low point of their lives.

Itchingtowrite said...

teaching as a profession never ends.. u can always teach as long as u like and i am sure u make a wonderful one! yes but the predictibility & routine of a day job, people, attachment with students etc will be missed after retiremmet right!!

hillgrandmom said...

What a greta teacher you must be! But I'm sure you'll find some kind of teaching to do even after you retire. Nothing like being with youngsters to keep you young isn't it?

eve's lungs said...

That was really good of you. It is a rare teacher indeed who teaches her students to learn from adversity . Such people are few in number these days .

Sue said...

Delurking at last to tell you that you are tagged.

:)

Enjoy!

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I'm back after an educational tour to Darjeeling and I'm glad to say that we had a good trip and a fruitful one 'cos we collected enough material for the next three years and the students got to see those specimen in their natural habitat.Sue,janani welcome here.Sue, I've already done the tag but since I cannot refuse your first tag I'll gladly give myself a new middle name and do it again.

Sue said...

Ah, sorry I should have checked your archives more thoroughly.

Do it again if it amuses you. Or I'll pass on another tag, if you like. Write about your dreams. Any dreams. And pass that one.

I do come by now and then, you know. Usually a luker. :)

Shobana said...

Teachers will always be a special person in every person's life and your students are indeed very lucky to have you..hope they realize that :)

Shobana
http://mybabynaren.blogspot.com/

I am linking you...

MM said...

Am reminded of a similar incident at our college... Sigh...

Great post, Hiphop!

shark said...

Such inspiring teachers are a rarity now.. may your tribe increase.. :)

Hip Grandma said...

Sue:Writing about my dreams is certainly appealing.Will try it out.

shobana:welcome here.Yes teachers are special.I still remember mine.

mm:why don't you share your experience?We'd love to hear abt it.Welcome here.

shark:unfortunately the job of a teacher is no longer attractive.What will happen to the kids of the present times?

Fuzzylogic said...

This incident reminded me so much of one of my teacher who really made a difference. Your students are lucky to have you HHG!