Children begin to learn with their first cry. They very quickly learn the importance of their cry and about all the attention they can get. With every passing day they learn something new and begin to discover themselves and the little world around them. They learn to smile, then they discover their toes and learn to wrap their tiny fingers around your fingers. It is fascinating to watch them. Soon they learn to turn on their tummy, to crawl, to sit up, to move on their fours and then to stand up and walk. All of these are inherently programmed for the child to learn on its own.
Things begin to get tricky when the learning starts with external intervention. When teachers step into the child’s life – first at home and then at school. Home is where learning begins and behaviours are formed. These individual behaviours gives the school teacher a class full of different personalities and she then has the task of establishing common ground rules that everyone is expected to follow and adhere to. Her role is a very important one as she is the key player in the transition of a child to a social being as it begins to make friends, learns to collaborate, cooperate and to share. These behaviours get cemented with the help of the parents who partner with the teachers to enhance their child’s learning.
I have seen and experienced this relationship from all 3 angles – as a learner, as a parent and a teacher. I come from an era where the parents whole-heartedly supported the teacher, at occasionally intervening when the teacher over-stepped her boundaries. And complains about teachers were not entertained. As a parent, my advice to my sons has always been to believe in their teachers and to see them as they learning partners. But slowly times began to change. And when I entered the teaching fraternity, I witnessed changes in the learners, the parents and the teachers. It is interesting how a meeting with a parent often explains the behaviours of their children. I have also seen teachers who can be hurtfully rude to their students just because they know they can. Teachers have great responsibilities. They can make or break a child’s self esteem.
Children often listen to their teachers more than their parents. I have seen favouritism among teachers and I have worked with teachers who did not ‘walk their talk’. But I have also met and worked with teachers who always went that extra mile for their students. Both types leave indelible marks on the student – one negative and the other positive.
I am not sure if teachers truly understand the kind of power they wield and if they do, they must exercise it with caution and in a responsible manner. I have had both great and average teachers in my life, but they have always been fair. My teachers motivated me to become a teacher. And as a teacher I know I have touched many lives and that is a very humbling experience. For most of my teaching career I have worked with disadvantaged children and most with their own learning challenges. For them and for me every little win has been satisfying, giant leap.
On this teacher’s day I thank all the teachers you taught me not just the subject matter but the nuances of life. I also thank all my students for enabling me and challenging me and helping me grow as a teacher. I cherish the lovely messages I receive from them and I am thankful that I have a place in their hearts. I spoke with some members from the Saree Club and they shared their thoughts about their favourite teachers.
With great warmth, Kalrav Desai recalls her school days , “Teachers’ Day holds a special place in my heart and I believe it’s a day when Indians across the globe take time to express their deep gratitude and admiration for the mentors who have shaped their lives. This significant occasion is celebrated on September 5th, the birth anniversary of Dr. Radhakrishnan who was an exemplary educator and the second President of India”.
Kalrav vividly remembers the influence her teachers had on her. Their unwavering support, encouragement, and guidance played a pivotal role in her academic and personal growth. Along with imparting knowledge, they ignited her curiosity, and nurtured her talents. As she reflects on her educational journey, she is reminded of countless instances where her teachers went beyond their teaching roles and showed genuine concern for her well-being. Their lessons extended far beyond the textbooks, teaching her life skills, values, and the importance of continuous learning.
Kalrav says, “Dressing up on Teacher’s Day in a saree and teaching the lower grades is something I fondly remember. It was something I looked forward to as it also gave me a chance to wear a saree. I had fun and created many priceless memories along the way. Let us all honour our teachers by carrying forward their teachings and making a positive impact on the world around us.”
Ashwini Salvi is a chef and a chef instructor. For her it was her teacher at her bakery school who tops her list of ‘the most favourite teacher’.
“Through school and college, I had many favourite teachers, but the one that would top the list is Mrs Shubhada Kotibhaskar – a teacher that taught me Bakery in the second year at IHM Mumbai. Shubhada Ma’am was the kindest, most loving soul and what I loved most about her was her patient manner in which she would teach and explain bakery science. I am seen in the photo with her on our valedictory function about 20 years ago. We had to drape sarees as a weekly uniform for Front Office practicals,” recalls Ashwini.
Teachers leave an indelible mark on innocent minds and so did Yamini’s Mrs BalaChandran, her teacher in year 3. Yamini reminiscences fondly, “ It was my first year in a new school and 3E was a new section with all new students (the final year in Primary school) and with a newly appointed teacher”. Mrs BalaChandran, though a temporary teacher for just a year, gave her best and went about her work like a pro with Yamini, the class topper as class her assistant. This setup was very different from Yamini’s previous school and as she was enjoying her time, she was doing well in studies too. “I would chat and share a lot with her”, Yamini says. Mrs BalaChandran would proudly talk about her in the staffroom as she was consistent in every assessment she completed. During the year’s Annual Day celebrations the Principal called her favourite teacher and her mother on he stage during the awards ceremony and announced that her teacher was being made permanent staff member. It was such a joyous moment ! “I moved to middle school a few steps away but would jump over to meet her during lunch time every other week. This went on till Year 10 and even after moving to University. My eyes were teary when she arrived for my wedding and tells my hubby with a proud smile that I was responsible for getting her a permanent job”, recalls Yamini. With Mrs BalaChandran’s children living in Melbourne, she hopes she will meet her favourite teacher again sometime in the future.
“Your heart is slightly larger than the average human heart, but that’s because you’re a teacher”. – Aaron Bacall. Happy Teacher’s Day to all the teachers – both formal and informal.