Charting the Course of Teaching and Learning in a Networked World
08 February 2011
My dear students,
As a teacher, I cherished the moments with you in your class. Yours was the most wonderful class I have ever had. I found your class wonderful for the reasons I cannot fathom. There are moments in the classroom when I can hardly hold the joy. When my students discover uncharted sphere to explore, when the pathway out of a thicket opens up before us, when our experience is illumined by the lightning-life of the mind – then teaching is the finest work I know. But at other moments, the classroom is so lifeless or confused–and I am so powerless to do anything about it that my claim to be a teacher seems a transparent sham.
Particularly, I loved the way you did your group work, or even creative home assignments. The creative writing classes really flabbergasted me. You showed your utmost creativity while replying a Korean student (Ever cried for your country?) and convincing a difficult friend about study (Helpful Hariet). Yet I have to confess the fact that I could not expose you to creative writing adequately. One thing for sure I will never forget about your class is the activity with ‘The Soundtrack of my Life’. We are enjoying your songs in the staff room even today. Some other teachers are also thankful to you for the job you did.
One thing I can proclaim about your class is that you might not be very good speakers, but are definitely the most patient listeners. One more thing I still don’t know about you: you look so dumb (in the sense, you have a quiet classroom), but talk outside very openly and of course in the facebook very extemporaneously. I wonder whether you are like Rafaella (a character in a novella “Secret Friends” by Elizabeth Laird; if you had been in the optional English class, I would not have to explain) – being in the hard shell at school and a cheerful butterfly at home. But I know you don’t have that terrible reasons as Rafaella had for being different at school. I guess it’s your nature, but it should not be your inhibition. Or was it simply that you acted that way in my class? I was more worried about Karuna and Sirapa whom I rarely found interactive. They were the most patient creatures who probably made the rest so. When I remember my high school days, I wonder how you people have been listening to the teachers for eight periods. I salute your forbearance! I used to feel dead bored. And you rarely showed it to me though it was the last period we had the English class.
Kabindra and Dipanjan were the only two little boys who sometimes had illogical reasons for excuse. And some students like Nabin, Iman, Ravi were clever enough. If they had not completed the homework they would come to the entrance of the staffroom and ask me for allowing the class to visit the library. Just kidding! Actually all of you handed in your tasks in time. I can clearly say that yours was the only class which was allowed to visit the library very often. I don’t know whether that was a plus for you or a minus. Again, it was not that you were privileged to visit the library; actually you deserved that.
As an English teacher, statistics and numerical are not my suit. You did notice that I would miss one or the other number in series while giving out grammar exercises. But I am good at solving Sudoku. I do it simply because one of my math teachers had said that math is like calisthenics for our brain. For me it really doesn't matter if I do them 'right’. What matters is that I TRY to do them.
Let me talk about teachers in general, as Anne Frank said that teachers are the most unpredictable creatures on earth, I think that’s true. You rarely know how much marks you will get out of your intensive preparation and impressive writing. They tend to be quite bitter and cheer themselves up by marking everyone’s papers up with red ink. Remember, this “they” includes me, too! Each time you forget a comma, or write a lower case i, or miss a step without hampering the right solution, they knock off half the score. Like fertilizer, their wisdom is most useful spread thinly, but pretty bad when it’s in a great heap in front of you.
Turning to parents, for the progress of the students, supportive, involved parents are crucial. But some parents are ‘helicopter parents’ – they hover too much. Teaching at times is not joyful, we get jaded too. Disrespectful students and belligerent parents take a toll on us. Thank goodness! I have to face neither of them till date. Still, I have seen parents who are ECOs of their own companies come in and tell teachers how to run their classrooms. I would never think to go to their offices and tell them how to do their jobs.
I do not mean to leave a mark on your hearts, nor am I successful to leave you with a solid knowledge of English. I simply tried to convince you that you can do anything you want if you use your hearts and minds as fuel for your goals in life. I just tried to inculcate in you the passion to discover more on your own. I am not so much a ‘teacher’ but I am a fellow human being who tried to help you learn. Thank you for being my students for 2 years. I took more out of your class than I have ever taken out of any class before. Actually I experimented some language exercises on you, and I am happy that (they might not be very much successful,) they were not failures. I have to apologize if you did not like that but I intentionally made you the guinea pigs. Thank you so much for all that you’ve done this year and the year before. You made English class an entertaining place to be, learn and laugh! Your class presentations (during revision sessions) were very much innovative and resourceful. You had prepared intensively well. If you had begun the session with that, OMG I could have been laid off from the job! I am thankful to you that you helped me survive and be in the school with you.
Let me say ‘Das bidaniya’ as you are passing out. Maybe not ‘Good-bye’.... just ‘See you later’.
Signed with all best regards,
Rebat Kumar Dhakal
Your English teacher
p.s. I hope you are having a nice time after the exams! Wish you all the best for outstanding results! ‘Omigosh! That’s it! Stick a fork in me – I’m done!’ these are some of the things you might say if you get lesser marks than you have expected, but it’s not the end of the world!