‘What prompted you to be a teacher?’
-Well, my teachers have inspired me and I consider teaching as a noble profession.
-I adore children and love spending time with them.
-My passion for my discipline drove me to this profession.
-‘Teaching is one profession that helps you learn as you teach.
The question I penned down above is a common ice breaker that teachers encounter time and again. The probable answers are not too tough to guess. Hence, it was easy enough for me to use it as a springboard to my humble attempt at self-discovery as a teacher.
What exactly does it take to be a good teacher?
To me, teaching is always about giving back.
Returning the gentle pat, from my kindergarten teacher, on my eager head, before she lined us up, the proud smile from my language teachers when they read out my compositions to the entire class, admonishments from my Math teacher since I never quite met up with his expectations, the spirited lectures on Shakespeare’s poetry which made my hair stand up on its end by its sheer brilliance and articulation. All of it.
I have been privileged to be on the receiving end of masterly teaching and heartwarming kindness from my teachers. I have always felt the need to pass on this good turn [again taught by my Moral Science teacher in Grade 1] to my children…my students. Teaching is a responsibility that has been bestowed upon my weak shoulders by these awe-inspiring men and women who have pieced together the jigsaw of my intellect and soul.
I like to believe that through my teaching I make my contribution to the poetry of life.
Teachers are performers in class…storytellers in the staff room and worriers when they try to catch a wink. I have grave doubts about how much our students remember what we officially teach in class. But they sure do remember when we cracked a joke, helped them open their lunch boxes, or praised them in front of their parents. In all these decades of being a teacher, I have realised that the core quality that a teacher needs is the ability to never give up on his/her students. Despite our quota of frustration, silent rage, and disappointment, we keep on scheming and planning to bring out the best in them. Affirmations, one-to-one talks, catching them doing the right things go a long way. Once the bridge of empathy strengthens between the student and teacher, the other jobs become relatively easy.
Like satellites, that glow on borrowed light from planetary bodies, we teachers thrive on the glory of our children. Let every molecule of their effort make us proud…let them grab our hands when they slip and realise if not anyone else, their teacher will stand by them. Always.
Or as Prophet in Khalil Gibran would say,
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.