Teachers, take a break

Teachers, take a break

Teachers, take a break

Rohit is happy that finally the exams are over, the academic year is over – and school is over, at least for a couple of months. Rohit’s parents are already worried about how to keep him occupied and out of trouble. But Rohit’s teacher Seethamma is too exhausted to even think. She feels she has done a good job, she has been true to her vocation, and she has laboured hard till the end. Now a vacuum is setting in her mind as she looks forward to at least a few weeks of change from the hectic routine.

Seethamma, like most good teachers, is doing a serious and realistic introspection on what she has achieved, and what she should be doing in future. The one thing that she is clear is that she would like to continue being a teacher as long as she can. What she is not so sure about is how she will keep facing the increased pressure, the cumulative stress, the delicate balancing of home and school life, and how long her physical and mental energy will keep up with her enthusiasm.

This is the time of year when teachers can do some introspection and help their students and also themselves.  Here are some of the ways:

For students:

*Send them off with lots of positive strokes. Since the assessment of academics is over, now you can boost the self-esteem of your students by giving them verbal or written ‘report cards’ about them as human beings and their good traits.

*If students have appeared for final or Board exams and are anxiously awaiting results, give them your contact number which can act as a help-line if they get depressed. You may be preventing a crisis by just the simple act of giving your phone number.

*Give students some home work about development of personality, improving their basic life skills, interpersonal relationships, or overcoming their short-comings.  Offer them the carrot that you will reward them after vacation if they put in serious efforts (rewards being for ‘efforts,’ not only for ‘success’).

*Motivate students to do non-academic reading. Let them read anything of their interest.  Perhaps you could create a competition as to who reads how many books and reports back after the holidays are over (and you too should be a participant in that competition!)

*Encourage your students to start exploring career options (regardless of which class they are in), list out the various opportunities and alternatives, and also to match their skills and aptitude to each career of their choice.  Allow them to dream, change goals, come out with new ideas during their holidays.

These little gestures will bond you with your students, empower them to think out-of-the-box, and become better citizens beyond their text books and academics. It will also give you tremendous satisfaction that you have building strong men and women of the future.

For yourself:

Donald D Quinn once said: “If a doctor, lawyer or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble; and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months – then they might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”

 Teaching and handling students is a very stressful job. That is why teachers are the only employees, other than High Court and Supreme Court judges, who are given an unconditional annual vacation – and in the case of teachers, without any work to catch up with on your return.  Make the most of it. 

*Spend at least a part of your forthcoming vacation doing something entirely for your own leisure and stress reduction. Earmark a few days when you can “get-away-from-it-all” and just unwind.

*Catch up on your reading habit – read as many books on as wide topics as you can.  Simultaneously read up something on your subject which you can discuss with your students in the coming year, so that their learning is not restricted to the text books.
nIt is possible that you have the talent to write. Practice writing in the holidays. It could be letters, poetry, short stories, serious articles – and if possible try to get them published. It is a very creative hobby, and has an effect of catharsis (bringing out your innermost feelings and making you feel lighter).

*Introspect on your personality characteristics, and how they are being viewed by students.  It is a fact that the more your students like you, the better they will learn, and the more harmonious your classes will be. A recent survey among middle and high school students highlighted the following qualities (in descending order) that children like about a teacher: Impartial, Genuine, Humorous, Patient, Friendly, Approachable, Kind, Encouraging and helpful, and lastly – good subject knowledge, teaching quality!

*Use the holidays to streamline your daily routine, catch up with pending work, improve your own personal relationships at home, and chalk out a stress-free routine so that you can go back to the new batch of students with a smile on your face. First impressions are formed within minutes, and can last for the entire academic year.

*Revise and review your short-term and long-term goals. Ensure that you will not stagnate and repeat in the coming academic year what you were doing earlier.  Bring in change, variety, progress and a positive outlook.  Build up your enthusiasm to begin a fresh year, since enthusiasm is contagious.

*An ideal teacher is one who is a child at heart.  At this time of the year when you are taking a break from your students, recall whether you have become too serious and too much “syllabus” or “portions” oriented. If so, take an about-turn and start becoming a child again. Here is a simple test – how do you respond to this thought-provoking note by a student? “Little Red Riding Hood didn’t listen to her mother. Jasmine was in a live-in relationship with Alladin. Snow White lived alone with seven men. Pinnochio was a liar. Robin Hood was a thief. Tarzan walked without clothes on. A stranger kissed Sleeping Beauty and she married him. Cinderella lied, sneaking out at night to attend a party.

These are the stories our teachers raised us with, and then they complain our generation is spoiled!”

Fulfill your ambition ….

It is not just students who should have ambitions for the future. Teachers can be equally ambitious. You can make your dreams come true:

If you wanted to be a sculptor, become a teacher and sculpt the lives of children

If you wanted to be an artist, become a teacher and paint dreams for children

If you wanted to be a musician, become a teacher and bring a melody into the lives of children

If you wanted to be a historian, become a teacher and help nurture those who will create the history of the future.

If you wanted to be an engineer, become a teacher and fabricate the bridges to take the children across to the world of knowledge.

The main stake-holders in a child’s education and upbringing are the parents and teachers.  They have the same goals and intentions, but they also need to ensure that they work as a team.  Devise ways and means of bringing the two closer to each other, and to ensure that they do not work at cross-purposes. The better the rapport between teacher and parent, the better the future of the child.  If we build better citizens of tomorrow we can look forward to peaceful, harmonious and happy sunset years.  Happy Vacationing !

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