In times when you are judged by the company you work for, the position you hold, the number of people who report to you and by the money you make, I am a misfit.
I am a Teacher. Yes only a teacher.
I have never earned enough from this job to be able to run my home or had the benefits that come with a corporate job. I have also been told ‘ You could have been successful in a nine-to-five job, what a waste of your talent’, ‘Teaching, oh that’s an easy job with not much to do’, ‘How could you spend so much time in a class full of kids’ and many other things.
I could have continued working in advertising or the hospitality industry, where I worked earlier in my career and made more money and name but a quick turn of events landed me in a classroom of fifty six year old kids.
My first day was a disaster! A student fell down and got injured and I forgot to check on him. The students were smart and naughty enough to sense my discomfort and won’t be quiet. It seemed impossible to reach out to all fifty of them at once. By the end of the day with hoarse throat, swollen feet I was ready to quit. But I went back. And back again. And spent the last 22 years with schools and children of various age groups across many cities in various capacities.
In India, unlike in many other countries where teachers are not given their due when people in top jobs/positions understate the work I do, I look up and say ‘Hey how many of your colleagues from two decades ago remember you?’
‘Have you ever experienced the joy of being introduced to person’s family as one of the biggest influences on them?’
‘Has anyone ever told you that what they are today is because of you?’
‘Has your work shaped minds and hearts together?’
‘How often have you been invited to major life events of people you haven’t met in almost last fifteen years?’
‘Is their role multifaceted enough to include being a resource provider, curriculum specialist, organizer, assessor, learning facilitator, participant, mentor, catalyst for change all at the same time?’
I thank each and every student of mine for making me stronger, forcing me to strive harder in class, to constantly update my skills, encouraging me to try and do new things in class and forming a strong bond for life which goes much beyond the clichéd student-teacher relationship.