Love is all you need

Shree Singh Kuriyal

Name – Tashi Dolma
Profession – Teaching
Experience – 7 years
Present posting – Government Girls High School, Badethi, Uttarkashi

If somebody tells you they know of a teacher who has never hit her students or raised her voice at them, you are likely to take it with a pinch of salt until you meet Tashi Dolma and interact with her students at the Government Girls High school, Badethi, Uttarkashi.

Tashi is a tall and sweet lady who understands the psychology of her students very well. Over the years, she has developed unique strategies for dealing with children who might be unruly or disruptive. When Tashi came to the school as a new teacher, one of the first things she was warned about were a couple of ‘bad eggs’ (students) in her class. However, Tashi refused to form opinions about her students on the basis of what she heard. Instead, she worked on them by working with them. She spoke to her students and listened to them. She became their friend. She soon realized that these ‘bad eggs’ had never been heard before. So far everybody, including other teachers, had only ever pointed out their mistakes and taunted them for being stupid. This constant insulting behaviour was actually turning them into troublemakers. Tashi told her ‘bad eggs’ that she loved them, she did not think they were bad or stupid and wanted to see them behave and do good. Her faith and belief in them made these students turn a new leaf. They started responding well in class and helping other students as well with the lessons.

profile-1 Tashi says that she loves all her students like her own children and does not feel that any child is bad. She believes and has also seen that constant criticism and taunts can create negativity which continues to be reinforced till there is no hope for the child. The child will start believing all the bad things she hears about herself and will begin perpetuating this image. Tashi believes in breaking this cycle of negativity with pure positivity. She never badmouths a child and constantly keeps telling children about their good points and all children have good points which if nurtured properly will generate more good points.

A strategy she often uses to befriend her students is to behave like a child herself. She is actually hurt if children are disruptive in class or if they misbehave. She then shows them that she is hurt by their behaviour, and that she had greater expectations from them. When she stops talking, the children themselves come to her, apologize and do not repeat a particular behaviour. She is a mother to all her students. She talks to them, listen’s patiently to their complaints, tries to help them in and outside the school, is ever ready with motherly and friendly advice for their troubles. She is not unfamiliar to them and is never preaching to them from a pedestal.

In her classroom, there are no pedestals. She and the children embark on the journey of learning together, and indeed the children end up teaching her as much as she teaches them.

profile-2 Her children are confident around her and the classroom is redolent with what the children create. They are encouraged to sing, dance, write poems and stories and share them without any fear of being judged and discouraged. English, which Tashi teaches, is invariably her students’ favourite subject. They all get together to read, write and post their writings on the walls of the class.

When Tashi comes across a child who is not able to string words together to make sentences, she uses songs, rhymes, poems and simple conversations to organically inculcate the language in the child’s daily life. In the process, she aspires to and is able to inculcate respect and discipline in a child as well.

As a mother of two, Tashi is well aware that a child cannot be a disciplined robot. Children have to enjoy their childhood. Instead of reprimanding the child in any situation, she simply reinforces positivity by reminding them of their goodness and lets the child come back happily after exhausting their pranks for the time being. This constant reinforcement of trust in a child ensures that the child does not become a ‘bad egg’.

She believes that love works wonders when it comes to making a child listen to her. Respect is a two way street in her class. The children know that they are loved and that their thoughts are valued. There seems to be no other route to discipline.

She really is a pioneer of a fear-free environment!

The author works with the Azim Premji Foundation as an English Resource person for Uttarkashi district. She can be reached at shree.kuriyal@azimpremjifoundation.org.