My experiments as a Teacher - the Journey of Teaching
By Uma Venkataraman
(A scene in an online Classroom)
“Good morning children” – I began my online class.
“Please mute your microphones; unmute only when you want to ask something or to answer my questions”.
“Why is Adarsh not answering; I can see that he is present”
“Ma’am, his mic is not working” replies one student.
Finally, when I am about to start explaining the subject, my little grand-daughter barges into the room with her childish lisp.
The mobile rings – a call from my mother.
Oh, I have never experienced a chaotic situation like this. I thought conducting an online class from the comforts of the home would be a cakewalk.
Suddenly, the power goes off, thanks to the ‘efficiency’ of the power supply company.
I place an interruption message to my students from my mobile and started musing.
When was it, 20 years back? Yes, it was when I was working in a school in a remote part of North Kerala. Mala, a bright student, suddenly stopped attending school. I went to Mala’s home to enquire about her.
Her parents explained that she attained puberty and would not attend school henceforth, as per their custom, and would be married off soon.
I explained to them, “getting married at such a young age may affect her physically, mentally and emotionally. She is very good in studies and should be allowed to continue in school”.
The parents were not convinced. I reached out to them again a few days later and told Mala’s father “Sir, I am a teacher and it is my responsibility to teach them the subjects that they are supposed to learn. But I treat my students as my own children and consider it my responsibility to make bright, sincere, successful, and disciplined human beings out of them. Girls are achieving great heights nowadays. Please allow Mala to go to school”.
Mala finally started attending school after a gap of almost two weeks and continued her studies, with active encouragement from me and support from her parents.
Mala rose to be a topper at the end of her high school years. I felt very happy and proud as a social crusader.
What was the other occasion that made me proud? Ah, that boy Vishnu and his friends, a couple of years later.
Vishnu was a bright student in my class. He lived in a village nestled in the Western Ghats. Every year, during the monsoon, the rivers used to swell, and the entire village got cut off from the surrounding areas. The students, who normally trudge a few kilometers to the school, had no means of reaching the school. At several places there were prop roots of the banyan trees spread over the gushing waters. A prop root is an aerial root found in mountainous terrains, used as a living root suspension bridge. The village elders planned to remove these roots and construct a concrete bridge.
I had taught the students about the need for conservation of nature, forests, and trees and how it protects the ecosystem. Vishnu and his friends remembered my words and convinced the elders to preserve the prop roots. They worked together, made the roots stronger by tying ropes around them and used these very roots as a bridge to cross the river. I was proud of being an inspiration to the young generation.
With a huge smile across my face, I started my online class.
About the Author
Uma Venkataraman is a senior teacher with experience of over 20 years – mentoring students in their final years at school. She is the Head of the Department of Social Studies, Faculty Advisor for co-curricular activities such as Model UN Sessions and the Financial Quest program conducted by National Stock Exchange.
Uma is a Postgraduate in History, Graduate in Economics, Graduate in Business Administration and hold a Diploma in Human Rights. She is currently pursuing post-graduation in Education.
Uma is a recipient of Times Award for Innovative Teaching, awarded by Times Foundation (TAFIT), and was a Regional rank-holder in the CENTA (Centre for Teacher Accreditation) Teaching Professionals Olympiad (TPO) 2016. She is a recipient of the Teacher Innovation Award from Zero-Investment Innovations for Education Initiatives (ZIIEI), and has been given the title Literary Captain by Story Mirror, a leading publishing house.