From the Heart
It’s been quite some time since I last wrote. Serious writing, that is. I am one of those for whom words do not flow. I am guessing that happens if one thinks too hard. If one thinks from the heart and writes what the heart says then that perhaps makes for better writing. That goes perhaps for everything in life. Do it from the heart and you’ll
do it great.
Teaching is such a splendid profession (oh well, let’s ignore the Corrections bit for now) – it’s because you are dealing with children and there is no other way to connect with them other than through the heart. It is only those who really truly love children that love teaching. Love does not come from the mind. You cannot say ‘I think I will love this child’. You will love him or you won’t.
Let’s look at what love can do to a child. I shall share some of my own experiences here. I am sure many teachers reading this would have had similar great moments. I will not lose sweat over what to refer to the child as: him or her and likewise the teacher.
A new child had joined in class six. He had missed at least two months of the term and in that while quite a bit of ground had already been covered in the subject I was teaching the class.
Awkward as a new child is in a class that has already bonded and settled in, that this child looked big for his age and was sort of bulky did not help- he was not going to be accepted easily it seemed. “Oh! well, that’s his class teacher’s problem,” my mind said. “I only have to teach. It’s his problem if he has not done so and so topic and I’ll meet his parents and tell them what he has to catch up on. Let me get on with the course,” dictated my mind….trying to influence my heart. But aha! the heart was stronger. In a beat I knew that I could make all the difference to this child by just being sensitive to the fact that he was new and needed all the help he could get to fit in, not just academically but socially too.
I decided to make him feel good about himself, and not let what he did not know come in the way of making his entry to this new school- something that would have a far reaching effect on his emotional comfort and self esteem and how others perceived him throughout his stay in school- a joyful experience. I’d set him off on the right foot, as it were.
So, if he said something that sounded different and drew sniggers from the class, I would state what I liked about his point of view and ‘ Wow! How different! Could you explain in more detail, it is such an interesting thought’. If his books were out on his desk before the class started and other children’s were not, I wouldn’t isolate him as an example and embarrass him by publicly endowing him with my approval and appreciation but say “Rahul (not his real name), since you’re ready could you do me a favour, could you pin up these papers on the board for me, thanks so much”. When he gave in a piece of extra-neat work, I made sure to hold his note-book up for the class to see along with one or two other such pieces of neat work of other students , showing them how it is such a pleasure to correct such work. Yes, I did need to work with him to help him catch up but anyone could have done that. A tutor could do that, a parent could as well. Could anyone have helped him with gaining acceptance and fitting in? No, only a teacher who worked from her heart could do that. And teachers are doing it all the time. Needless to say Rahul quickly became ‘one of the boys’ and went on to do very well academically and socially. His heart had settled, in the right place.
Some more magic moments with children’s hearts that make us teachers just love our job (do not include Substitution duty).
A girl in my class who was not strong in the subject I was teaching, was very low on confidence and always nervous and unsure of herself in my class. One day I was surprised to receive from her an exceptionally good assignment. It was clear as crystal that she had not done it independently. Despite that I marked it and wrote ‘A+’ on the top with a beautifully scripted ‘Excellent!’
She carried the paper around all day during recess and lunch and in between classes with a spring in her step casually letting the ‘A+’ and ‘Excellent!’ show to anyone who had eyes for it. She was beaming. She was happy. She was also excited about her next assignment. She wanted to do that well too. And she did! The next assignment was done beautifully, clearly not by her, and another ‘A+’ and ‘Excellent’. My, was she was on a winning wicket! Her head went up higher and if she had a tail that would have gone up too! She now loved my subject, paid more attention in class and answered questions, something she would normally not do earlier.
Did I not accost her? Of course I did. But not immediately; after two such assignments when I met her in the lunch hall one day I told her in an offhand manner, “Oh Shivani, I need you to meet me. Can you come to staff room at the end of the day? I need to talk to you.”
“Yes, Ma’am. Sure,” she said.
When she came to meet me I said, “Shivani, thank you so much for the excellent work you are turning in. It seems you understand Maths better now. I know someone helped you and I am glad you asked for help, so that you could do well. Now, I need to know which parts of these assignments you can do totally yourself and which are the parts you took help on.” And she took out the two assignments (she always had them with her) and we carefully reviewed the questions one by one, identifying the ones she could almost do herself. “Great,” I remarked, “I am going to give you a test on these types of questions and the rest that you do not know, I am going to help you on separately. When can you take the test?” Shivani was game and after we had decided on a date and time for the test, I told her in parting,”and oh Shivani, in future please only do the parts of the assignments that you can do on your own, please leave the ones you don’t know how to do, don’t take help. I’ll do them with you in class.
I want to give you A pluses for your work.”
Shivani took the test the next day. What grade did she get? You tell me. And did the fraud A pluses convert to genuine ones. Surely and steadily they did. She was working from the heart and I had her totally on track and synergized.
The great thinker Confucius said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
So let’s all ring in the new academic year on that hearty note.
Bye for now; I’m going for Invigilation duty.
We’d love to hear your ‘From the Heart’ experience; would you like to
share it? Do write in at: email@example.com
Sarita Mathur is a free-lance education consultant offering services to schools, both rural and urban, in India and abroad. An alumnus of St. Stephen’s College, Sarita has a degree in Mathematics, Education and a post-graduate degree in Operations Research. The Mathematics background and her well-honed sense of systems and processes had her institutionalize several long lasting and important changes as Principal of The Shri Ram School placing it firmly on the map as a progressive and leading school of India. Sarita has served as a consultant on the International curriculum of the CBSE and also serves as advisor/consultant to several curriculum companies, schools and start-up ventures.