I start the academic year with a salute to all teachers!
Another academic sessions starts and a new challenge begins. Schools are geared up and students are ready, most of all the teachers are battle –ready! I believe that the schools may have a mission or vision but it is the teachers who make it all realize with their influence on children. It is their ability to relate to the children that makes or mar the entire purpose of education.
And as always, a new session will have a mix of old and new teachers, with or without suitable qualifications, experienced or a novice and in some cases qualified and experienced but not suitable! A strange mix of ages, socio-economic backgrounds, genders yet a strong team of teachers are ready for the new session, I am sure!
The adaptability that ‘teachers’ as professionals, exhibit, I wonder if there are any other professionals who can don such multi-dimensional roles. Dealing with different subjects at different class levels is one thing, adapting to the Boards the schools are following, working in strange countries with wilder challenges from nature, racial discrimination or xenophobia is entirely another thing.
The other day I was interviewing candidates for teaching posts. I remembered my days as a teacher when I would appear for interviews almost after every 2 years. My husband’s career in the Air Force made me travel from place to place every 2 to 3 years. Each time it is a new beginning and a new role. Considering different requirements of schools I donned the role of kindergarten teacher to academic head to In-Charge Senior Secondary School or teach the Senior Secondary students. Thank God my teaching varied only between Science in junior classes and English & Social studies in all classes up to 12th. I met some of my colleagues who taught science in 12th and English in 4th. Math in 4th and social studies in 9th! One of them is good at teaching social but qualified to be a Sanskrit teacher.
This teacher I was interviewing has an interesting experience. She taught social studies in a typical conservative SSC school in Hyderabad before she left for Maldives to work as an English teacher in IGCSE school there, that too for Grades 9 & 10. The fear of monthly cyclones did not deter her from adapting to the new school. Her mettle has been recognised by the IGCSE team and she was sent to teach in UK for Grades 4 & 5 for one year. Once the contract is over she opted to come back to India rather than returning to Maldives. Back home, her passion for work began to wane due to the lack-lustre school that she joined. All sails set, like Sinbad, she restarted her voyage in search of new islands of hope.
When I was working in Delhi I remember a friend of mine who was offered a job in Modern School. While her qualifications are suitable to teach English and math their requirement was for a science teacher in grade 7. She had no choice but to burn the midnight oil and learn the concepts of science before she entered the classroom. She is a good learner.
Facing racial discrimination is another tormenting experience to teachers. An Indian friend of mine who worked in more than 8 countries in International schools for the last 16 years has one thing to say that she will never head a school in spite of her ability or experience as she is not fair skinned. She is indefatigable and so she continues to do what she loves most, teach!
I met this Afro-American teacher who is teaching in an African town where people from her own race want their children to be taught by a fair skinned teacher. She still does justice to her students.
I have interviewed people who started their own schools but closed down due to financial constraints, headed schools but resigned due to differences with the management and now they are working as teachers.
Teachers who taught in CBSE SSC or ICSE schools, each school with different objectives & priorities, new Systems & new Heads. Some schools give priorities to lesson plans while some feel every word a teacher says in the class has to be first approved by the principal. I have met some heads of school who spend a lot of time in reading the ‘script’ written by the teacher to be screen played in the class.
I have seen schools that take a record from the teachers for the transactions done in the classes at the end of the day.
Notes to be given for the students, the teachers have to write in a register and get it corrected by the subject coordinator and only then they can write it on the board.
Trust factor is not very evident in many schools, yet the teachers carry on!
Experience, ability and talent may be there in the teachers, but the schools do not want to deviate from their established system. More time is invested in checking the teachers than empowering. At times, parents and students are obliged at the cost of the teacher’s self-respect. Empowerment of teachers is not at all a priority.
Yet the teacher walks on relentlessly, uncomplaining with all her personal and professional woes along with her.
Walking encyclopaedias, some of them may be called or stalwarts in their own way. But for their dynamism, education sector would not have taken off in this progressive direction. Meeting the increasing needs in educational field and unlearning all the conservative teaching patterns only to re-learn new student centred methods which some International schools follow, is another feather in the teachers’ caps. Mastering different subjects for varying classes is one thing, writing the entire curriculum with guidelines from International organizations is another thing.
But in all this I salute the resilience of teachers and the ability to adapt into any environment. We teach adaptability in living things to Grade 4 & 5 but the ‘adaptability in teachers’ is a lesson that all professionals should learn.
Moulding themselves to suit the institution’s needs and rising to new challenges all the time with forbearing nature and sagacious approach, teachers are the best examples for adaptability in work areas.
In their multiple roles, they become students, textbook writers, mothers, Public Relation Executives (with parents), actors, dancers, adventurers, script writers, trainers, sportspersons, curriculum experts, consultants (for neighbours and friends), personal tutors and finally role-models. Who else gets the privilege of assuming such a multi-dimensional role ?
Computers in classrooms or out-sourced curricular experts, readymade notes or online teaching sessions, nothing can replace you teachers..you are the most wanted professional ‘human beings’ for all times to come.
I salute to all teachers across the world that are silently but assertively grooming the citizens for a better world and wish them all the best for another academic year.