I am the student, I am the teacher

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Never did I ever think that being a Science and Math teacher was going to be my profession. When I was in 10th, my mother suggested keeping a Math tutor so that I wouldn’t have a reason to ‘not’ work hard. But for me Math had always been fun. It was the patience to practice and read through NCERTs to understand what exactly the formulas meant which was non-existent in me. Mumma understood what works with me is not fear, but constant positive reinforcement. I needed someone to observe and push me to do better constantly. I am an obedient person, you put someone at a higher authority than me and I will be the best student, learner, employee, or daughter. I’m like the Ella of Ella Enchanted! Being obedient has helped me in channelizing my energy which would otherwise be capable of bursting my existence into a fireball explosion. But it has also become a barrier for my learning. I seldom take responsibility of my own learning. So my tutor would come and sit beside my study table, order a cup of tea with snacks which were complimentary from my mother’s side. He would make a loud ‘chuski’, making me yearn for some tea and snacks as well. Then he would lick his lips and ask me what have I done in Math. Like a teacher, and not his student, I would open the book to the first chapter, explain to him what the chapter was all about and what I was planning to do. I didn’t have the patience to listen to his explanation, I would rather just read and explain to him what I had proudly learnt myself. Had he not been there, I’d have no-one to show off to! He would challenge me to do the difficult questions and like the over-excited kid who wants to please and impress, I would say “Alright! I’ll prove it to you that I can do it!” After one hour, he would give me the silly-poor-kid look, as if he was the one who was guilty of my naiveness. Then the next day he would come again, sip the tea, brush the flakes of samosas off his stubble and ask me where I was in the Math NCERT. I’d proudly tell him how I finished the next exercise as well, and that’s how from chapter one we reached chapter 11th. I had taught myself, I had fetched for compliments and then I easily sailed through Math continuously pleasing my tutor.

 

I must be a self-learner without actually being a responsible one. Why couldn’t I ever just learn for myself, or just move along with the entire class? This attitude of mine regressed my progress. I was missing out on topics, I couldn’t cope up with the pace of the teachers in school. I dare not miss even a single paragraph from the book, I couldn’t have loopholes in my understanding of a topic. I could never start from chapter 5 even if it was the English reader with disconnected stories. There must be some logic in the chronology and how could I miss the sense of that? I trusted my own learning skills more than the teaching skills of my teachers. And so when the teacher had moved on to the next chapter through a shortcut, I’d still be finding my way around the longest route. And now, behold, I am a teacher.

 

The responsibility to teach students such as myself falls heavily on my shoulders, and guess what? I am the teacher who explains quite well. I do not leave loopholes, I do not let the curiosity and energy of children be disappointed. That’s who I am naturally, that is why I think I can be a good teacher. Now, I am obedient to my students, I listen to all their stories, I can’t say no to them or to anyone. It’s difficult to be assertive with anyone besides my little brother. Positive reinforcement as a teacher works too. I am thrilled to hear my students when they get surprised and give their feedbacks.

 

Is everything we do in life our own doing? Today I believe a little in destiny. Immense gratitude to the flow of my destiny, to have thrown me into the social sector when I myself couldn’t take the responsibility of my learning.

 I didn’t choose to be a teacher, I didn’t choose to teach Math and Science. And every day it is a challenge for me to understand the concept myself to be able to deliver it in my classroom. Thank you to Aavishkaar for giving me a chance to teach at my own pace. For showing me a path which isn’t black or white – where I can change every moment to cater best to my students, go at my own pace and just be curious.

Hello again to fun-Math, I thought I left you when I was 15. But I promise to not be the teacher who sips tea in front of perpetually hungry kids!

-Simran

Aavishkaar Fellow

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