Objectively speaking, teaching is one of the five top most stressful careers in the world. In a single hour, we have to play many different roles: nurse, baby sitter, counsellor, administrator, parental doormat and may be if we’re lucky – an educator.
Teachers have a huge responsibility on themselves. They hold the key to the future of all the children. It is often the teachers who sculpt a child’s psychology. From teachers’ hands would come tomorrow’s heroes or villains, as the case would be. A teacher always remains on the path of self-improvement. By teaching the right values the teacher keeps correcting his/her own conduct.
Thus teaching is by far one of the greatest professions in life. A teacher does not merely teach various academic subjects, but also cultivates a sense of total responsibility amongst his/her students.
My entry to this noble profession was way back in the year 1984 and that too quite accidentally. After completing my post graduation in Geography from Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan – University founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore – I was wondering where to start from. Having been rejected by SSB for selection to Air Force – I was confused. My dream to join the defence services was shattered.
It was a fine morning sometime in the year 1984 – a gentleman landed up at our residence and introduced himself as the secretary of a government aided school of West Bengal which is situated in a rural backdrop. After introduction he straightaway requested me to join his school as an assistant teacher to teach geography. I was quite dumbstruck! No interview, no class demo – how is this possible? What I gathered from his long story was that he first visited the geography department at our university from where he was told the only unemployed educated youth who could serve the purpose of fulfilling the vacancy is – I myself only. So he rushed down all the way to my place to appoint me. Therefore, I must do the needful.
I politely told him that I don’t have any teaching experience so it will be an injustice to the school and all the students. The secretary just brushed aside all my doubts and told me that these are all petty issues and I should not bother about them! Once you start your career as a teacher you will gain experience! So just come to our school and join. Even today, I clearly remember the request placed before me.
After the gentleman left I was confused and unable to decide. But then it was all decided perhaps by almighty God because next morning I reached that school and joined. It was my mother who advised me to explore this opportunity and go ahead. Rest as they say – is all history.
My first experience as a teacher was very dramatic – the entire MC of the school was waiting for me and seeing me they seemed to have won a lottery. A grand reception was waiting for me. I was embarrassed! When I asked for my time table the MC asked me to relax. Perhaps after an hour or so I was ushered into the staff room. Nevertheless – my teaching started with class V geography. I was quite confused – how to start off? I asked for a text book from a student and decided to start a lesson.
While I was teaching, I noticed that slowly my nervousness was disappearing and I was beginning to gain confidence! Another couple of months I continued in that school after which I got an opening in a residential public school in Shillong. A big jump, indeed! The environment was totally different and the climate too. The principal was the former vice-principal of St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling, and the majority of the teachers were Anglo- Indian. The students, too, were smarter than those in my previous school. It had a totally English speaking culture. No doubt-it took some time for me and my wife to get to settle in this new environment. After working for five years and with lots of memories, I left for another residential school in Ranikhet in Uttarakhand. The school had a backdrop of snow capped Himalayas – a picturesque set up. After three years I left for one of the oldest public schools in Shimla. This was perhaps one of the best public schools where I got an opportunity to serve for almost eight years!
From Shimla I left for the Gulf where I got an opportunity to work with a CBSE affiliated Indian School. My teaching experience in different public schools for so many years helped me adjust to the new environment and also exposed me to a different climate. Every year I thought of coming back to India but stayed back to accept the new challenges. In the process I stayed for seven years in the Gulf.
After almost three decades in this profession in various capacities (teacher to principal) I have cherished my memories and found two things – 1. Teaching is a second learning – whatever I have taught my students over these years – some of the concepts I didn’t understand while I was a student. In the process of teaching my concepts became clear. 2. Driven by the values imbibed during my stint as a student from both by my parents and teachers, I have always tried to inculcate these values in my students.
Today I am confident enough to make the students sit through 30 minutes of class time when their parents cannot make them sit for five minutes without a video game or computer!
Atanu Roy, basically a Geography teacher, has been in this vocation for three decades as an educator and administrator. His vast experience in education covers top schools in India and overseas. Besides being an avid sportsman specializing in basket-ball, Atanu has led students trekking expeditions in the Himalayas and the Karakorum Mountains. Currently, he is heading the Podar International School, Dhule, Maharashtra