I grew up at a time when school teachers seemed distant figures, who were happy to be distant. That notion went right out of the window on the very day I wrote my last board examination. On that day, a group of us, elated students, visited our rather awe-inspiring teacher of mathematics to give her a gift. She treated us to cake and said thank you with tears in her eyes. She told us that she knew we were a mischievous lot who probably had fun at her expense in class every time her back was turned. She knew exactly which one of us was a mimic and who was the prankster.
At university, I had the good fortune to be taught by Russian teachers, who kept the doors to their homes open for their students. I have eaten meals with my teachers in Russia, I have heard exquisite poetry in their living rooms. From my American teachers I learned that you could be on first names with your professors and line up for a sandwich with them at lunch time, and keep your learning opportunities open throughout.
When I became a teacher, I am sure that those experiences shaped some of my beliefs about my role in my students’ lives. I know that I have consciously tried to develop a personal rapport with every student in every class I have taught. I know also that I am hardly unique in finding ways to build a personal connection with students.
Dr. Kamakshi Balasubramanian is an educator and writer with significant experience.