Making a connection

Wise Move

Cheerful: Augustine (at the back) with his students. Dh photos by Dinesh S K

'Kyaa Raja' was a standard greeting used by one of our favourite teachers, Prof Amanullah, who taught us Hindi  at St Joseph's College of Commerce just as Deshbakth was Prof G K Govind Rao (GKG), our English teacher’s term of affection which still strikes a very sentimental chord when we think of our student days over 25 years ago. We used to meet these teachers after class hours and the bond that we built up led to such deep respect and affection that there was never a need for discipline to be harshly enforced in the classroom.”

“On the contrary, we would never dream of jeopardising the relationship we valued so deeply and that has lasted till date. Sadly, we lost Prof Amanullah some years ago but we were with his family members in their bereavement and our friendship with GKG is still very vibrant after all these years,” says Subodh Sharma, a student from SJCC whose memories of college life are fondly entwined with the bond he and his buddies shared with some of their teachers.

Today, while many teachers find it a tad difficult to take the relationship with their students outside the boundaries of the classroom, there are others who are willing to go the extra mile to establish a special rapport with their students.

“Trust is the core of a student-teacher relationship and if we wish that students join us wholeheartedly in classroom activities, we must demonstrate to them that we can be trusted. Sometimes students may be withdrawn, have emotional breakdowns or act out their feelings in class. We then make it a point to connect outside of the classroom and figure out the root of the problem which often stems  from within the family.”

“Once we identify the problem we help solve it and are accessible to the student at any time of the day or night in or out of campus. I have often received calls way past
midnight and spend a lot of time talking them through issues which often just require a sympathetic non judgmental ear and a person to trust and confide in away from parents and peers,” says Padmalatha, an English professor from Mount Carmel College.

Account and Finance Prof Augustine uses sports as a means to connect with his student both on and off the field. “I play a lot of games with them after hours and it certainly helps build a great rapport and insight into the students’ characters and personalities. I also use sports analogies and metaphors when I teach so it is a great way of bonding with my students at many different levels. Discipline is never an issue when you build up a relationship based on affection, caring and mutual respect,” he says.

Ashwin, a student of SJCC feels that a rapport develops when the teacher has “a sense of humour, is available outside of class, encourages class discussions, knows students' names, shares personal insights and experiences and relates to the syllabus in everyday terms.” He also adds, “It is also important for the teacher to understand that students occasionally have problems that inadvertently hinder their academic progress. Having said that I also feel that a special rapport with the teacher increases the enjoyment of the subject and motivates us to come to the class more often as well as pay more attention.” 

Lily David, the dean of SJCC is very popular with her students judging by the roar of applause that greets her appearances at college functions. “She was always accessible after hours for an interaction, made it a point to  remember our names as well as something about our interests, hobbies, and aspirations.

As a teacher, she interacted more, lectured less and was never reluctant to reward a student’s comments and questions with verbal praise. She would crack a joke now and then breaking the monotony and her spontaneous smile said that she really liked her job,” says Shilpa, an ex student, who felt that a teacher-student rapport beyond the boundaries of a classroom goes a long way towards first liking the subject and then achieving an academic success in it.

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