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Past perfect tales

Last Updated 21 May 2023, 19:17 IST

"If you can watch your dreams crumbling yet start from scratch and build your future all over from the start, then yours will be the world and you will be a man, my son," so went Rudyard Kipling, and I was reminded of all this and more when Grade 12 students walked out of my class on the very first day that I entered senior high. I must have shed bucket loads of tears, but it just didn’t help. So, my present back then was tense.

Seeing my predicament, one of my colleagues, a math teacher, consoled me, saying, "Don’t worry, Anuradha. They do the same thing to me. You will soon figure a way out." Much comforted, I wiped away my tears and trudged back home, wondering how to deal with this quagmire.

Days passed before, finally, the 'Eureka' moment dawned. The best way to keep them glued to their studies was to make them believe, like I did, that "learning can be fun." So now the English class was split into two: one before the break, one after. I made a deal with the students that before break we would study diligently, and after the break they would teach me basketball. So the focus on student-teacher interaction was fulfilled, as was my aim to educate. Simultaneously, I also learned the rudiments of basketball!

Those were truly the good old days when I taught English using a variety of resources, ranging from theatre to music, PowerPoint presentations to stick figures, poster art to recorded speeches.

My students were enthralled, and in their joy, I was relieved and felt blessed that I could help in however small a way. Perhaps the most touching moment was when, during one PTA meeting, I found a mother telling her daughter to touch my feet. I felt so humbled, and it only reminded me that when my children worshipped me so much, I needed to live up to their expectations.

Indeed, those were the days when I was ensconced in the love of a vibrant group of children. Their warmth often left me moved. If I were to pick out my most memorable day, it would have to be the day we played teacher vs. student volleyball on Teachers’ Day.

I loved my students and had no intention of winning against my dear children.Even as we played, I made sure the shots went right out of the court until I was sent out to be replaced by another teacher to score those winning shots. But if anyone asks me why I played the game that way, I would say, "Simple. I loved them deeply and wanted them to win. Because often, when you lose a game, you win hearts."

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(Published 21 May 2023, 17:47 IST)

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