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During the last Parent Teacher Meeting a parent told me that her son was always watching TV. Another parent said that his daughter was not fond of reading. Still another confided in me, and discussed at length all the changes that were coming in the thinking and personality of his child. The problems varied, but every parent looked at me expectantly, as if I, the teacher, had a magical wand to set everything right. These parents expressed their own helplessness, yet had the desire to see a positive change in their children.
Back home I started thinking: do I really influence the lives of young adolescents so much? Why did the parents have such faith in me? I decided to observe my own behaviour for a period of time. I became mindful of my words and actions. I was conscious that children learn more by what they see, than what they hear. I may be able to escape the eagle eyes of my Principal... but never my of students. I feel like a magician performing live on the stage every day.
I decided to make a concerted attempt to not only teach, but inculcate good values in the students, so that they grew up to become sensible and responsible citizens. I utilised Arrangement Periods, and took some time from my regular classes to inter act with students – trying to help them unfold. Narrating personal experiences and anecdotes, and then relating them to class lessons, served a very useful purpose.
Appreciation and words of encouragement became important aids. I pledged not to lose my temper, always encouraged and motivated the students, wrote positive remarks in their note books, and gave them the confidence that they were improving. I gave them the assurance that if they showed signs of improvement they would be suitably rewarded. The small steps I took were not anything unique or difficult, but I made them my habit. I set a personal example, and practiced what I wanted my students to learn.
It became obvious soon that all students wanted to learn the English language well, and also groom their personalities. They understood that language would enable them to explore job opportunities, and raise their self-esteem. They did take the small steps. I continued to show them the way.
Children become what they live with. Their experiences at home and school give them the foundation to build their lives. Hence it is very important for the teacher to possess all those virtues that she wants her students to have. In order to teach patience, sincerity and diligence, the teacher must practice these qualities. Positive reinforcement is a miraculous tool that guarantees improvement in a student. A pat on the back, or light humour in the class, works wonders. I believe in the maxim: I can do it, I will do it.
I agree that the modern scenario is not very encouraging and motivating. There is a rapid deterioration of values among the students. The ill-effects of media, wide spread negativity in the society, the influence of some 'negative' friends, and of course the fact that many students do not respect their parents and teachers, are grave issues that need to be urgently addressed. I strongly believe that if we become role models to our students, and empathise with them, we will certainly command respect. All is not yet lost. There are still a number of students who value the advice of their teachers, and look up to them for direction. As a teacher I must recognise that the immature young students are sometimes quite confused and muddle-headed. They test the teacher on her patience and knowledge. However, if the teacher remains true and firm, the students soon learn to obey.
There is a need to sensitize adolescents, and develop commitment in them, so that their sometimes hateful behaviour diminishes significantly. The climate of a school encourages expression, enquiry and dialogue; and therefore it becomes my sacred duty to inculcate a sense of duty, tolerance and mutual respect among my students, and help them stand morally upright. C. S. Lewis said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
Children pick up values from different sources – like home, friends, school, neighbourhood, and religious places. Each source leaves its indelible impression on their vulnerable minds. Being a teacher, I can help my students choose what is right and beneficial for them.
Experience has also taught me that most of the children can be easily tamed. A tall, well- built child, who appears to be very rough and tough from the outside, may actually be very insecure at heart. An aggressive young adult also appreciates the compassionate attitude of a teacher. Since we, the teachers, deal with young lives, we cannot just ignore them and let society degrade further. A school plays a pivotal role in the development of a healthy personality in a child, and the responsibility of a teacher can not be underestimated. A school remains the extended arm of the family, and a teacher the guardian.
While we must not expect miracles over night, I have the indomitable conviction that if I do justice to my profession I too will reap benefits: contentment in my personal life and an opportunity to live in a better society; and where my students have grown up to become dynamic leaders, policy makers and honest human beings – commanding respect from one and all.
PGT English, Kendriya Vidyalaya, JNU
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