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Author Bio: Sheela Mathews has been a kindergarten teacher for over a decade years in Gregorian Public School in the Southern Indian city of Cochin (now called Kochi). She is 48 years old and is passionate about teaching.
Every morning as I come into class, 32 eager faces greet me. The onslaught begins almost instantly. Thirty-two voices try to talk at the same time – all-believing in the ‘survival of the loudest’. A few of them dutifully bring me flowers every day. Others who religiously inform me that they saw me on my scooter or that they saw my house that day (I live next door to the school). Then there are some who insist on regaling me with everything that happened at home – a family outing, a parent’s birthday, and a baby’s arrival. Every new eraser, bag, pencil, water bottle is displayed before me for approval.
Assembly time is sickness time. The rate of headaches and stomach pains go up drastically during this period. Some of them are such good actors; it is difficult to distinguish the genuine form the fake. The prayer song resounds loud, clear and totally out of tune from the kindergartens section, leading to exasperated looks and hidden smiles from the senior teachers and students. In our school, clapping during assembly time is restricted to three claps, but try telling that to my children – they clap wildly, loudly and unreservedly, as if there is no tomorrow. Making them stand still during the national anthem is a feat by itself.
Nurturing With Love
As a mother, I realize how children who are well brought up and properly guided find learning much easier than spoiled brats or children who do not get enough attention at home. I understand what a difference caring and supportive parents can make in the development of a child. This difference is quite glaring during class. As a teacher I realize the power I have over them. This power if utilized well can help them bloom and blossom. Children are great imitators and they unconsciously adopt my gestures, language, etc. My word is law to them and their faith in my abilities is complete. All this makes me realize the responsibility I have as their role model and living up to their expectations is my biggest challenge. Over the academic year, I see shy, introverted children change into happy, outgoing and well-adjusted children. Deep in my heart I like to believe that I, in some way, contributed to this change.
Toeing The Line
Observing how a child reacts to a rebuke is a study in human nature. The naughtiest ones usually take it in their stride. It passes off like water off a duck’s back and the very next minute it is business as usual. Some sulk, while others burst into tears at the slightest hint of displeasure in my voice or face. Then there are few others who look at me with a hurt expression as if to say, ‘How could you accuse an angel like me of such a crime?’ It is in my class that I learnt a lesson in unconditional love. Who else would listen to my singing day in and day out every day? Where else would I my drawings fetch such rave reviews? And who else would miss me so terribly when I miss school for a day? It is their love and support that makes this a great job and I would not like to exchange it for anything in the world!