Monday, 13 February 2012

Happy Valentine, bring in all elements of love!

Teacher Talk  By NITHYA SIDHHU

Kindness, compassion and understanding are qualities that we should nurture in ourselves and those around us to make our lives more meaningful in the long run.  Give a man the respect, recognition and reward he deserves and see how far he will go in life

A COUPLE of weeks ago, I dropped by at one of the schools I had taught in before. When a group of my ex-students spotted me, they came rushing up to say “Hello”.

A cheeky girl, now in Form Five, quickly covered her name tag and asked me, “Teacher, tell me my name. See if you still remember me.”

Much to her surprise, I remembered. The reason was simple. I had taught her when she was in Form Three and one day, I had given her class a set of open-ended questions to evaluate my teaching.

I must share with you that my favourite questions are based on Edward De Bono’s lateral thinking PMI (plus, minus interesting) set. I would ask my students to tell me, using whatever vocabulary they had, be it in sentences or in words, in Malay or in English, the PMI elements about my teaching.

Attentive: Teachers should not only teach but make it a point to nurture and interact with their students.

This student, wrote very simply that I was a “nice teacher” who had a “nice nose, nice face, nice lipstick, nice hair, nice personality and nice manners.” To round up, she wrote in every column – regardless whether it was ‘plus, minus or interesting’ that I was “nice, nice, nice”.

Reading out her evaluation to my daughters, I remember the older one going “aawww”.
That explains why when met I this student again, I could really remember her full name. With her simple appreciation, she had left an impression on me.

But while I chatted casually with them all, I noticed a Chinese boy hanging back, unsure whether to approach me or not. With my acute sense of “with-it-ness”, I could feel his hesitancy and trepidation.



Since I recognised him, I called out to him warmly to join us. I even remembered his name! The minute I did that, a transformation came over his face and he broke out into a big smile. Soon, he was among the cluster of students around me, laughing and joking.

Caring teachers: Sometimes all it takes is a hug and some counselling to bring about positive changes in a student. – File photo  

The 3A’s
You may wonder what my point is. It is this.

Students cherish the human touch. They need the “3A’s” in their life as much as we teachers do – attention, acknowledgment and appreciation.

In our social interaction, it is a boost to our heart and spirits (brushing ego aside) when we are told, either in words or in actions, that we matter.

An older teacher is gratified when she is told that her contributions make a difference. A younger teacher goes home happy when she has been given a complimentary shot in the arm. A disgruntled employee feels better after his issues have been heard out. A dissatisfied man relaxes when his boss listens to his complaints and then acts on them.

Even the people of a country sleep better when they know they have a government that cares about their welfare.

Say what you will, but it is love that makes the world go round.

Kindness, compassion, understanding, good deeds, empathy – all these go hand in glove with achievement and true progress.

Give a man the respect, recognition and reward he deserves and see how far he will go in life. Deprive him of it, and you may get some results but one that is without much soul and passion.

“These days,” said an old teacher friend, “I do what I can and nothing more than that. Why should I work so hard all the time when others are taking it easy and yet make as much as I do? What more – I’m fed up with the boorish behaviour from people who think so highly of themselves! ”

She was talking about the disparity in attitude shown by her principal to her in comparison to how he behaved and favoured another colleague who did not work as hard as she did.

I told her what I tell all the teachers I give talks to — “Whatever you do, go ahead and be angry, sad, unhappy or miserable, but after that, you should let it go and let love triumph in your heart.

Be focused on the good that you can do, particularly with your students. Come to school with the mind to teach and teach well.

If you let negativity roll in, it will lodge in your mind and fester only pain and disillusionment.

When you teach, you have to give. The giving may seem lop-sided at first and not at all in your favour, however in the long run it always works out for the better.

I may sound like a Maharishi from the Himalayas but I speak from personal experience.

In my teaching years, I was proven right time and time again, that I was a happier and better teacher when I rolled out the good punches in my professional life and worked out the bad ones on punching bags outside school!

This, being the month of February, I think it’s time we ought to give love more room in our hearts.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

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