Ankita Mishra has been a pre-primary teacher for four years. She enjoys being with children and is very passionate about teaching. Her other interests lie in interior design, animation, and photography.
Ilma is my student. She has problems controlling her anger. She sits in the back row. I always ask my students questions about what they do after school and how their day in school was. Ilma never answered my questions. A month into the new academic year, I was tearing my hair thinking of ways to connect with her. Ilma never listened to me and seemed proud that she was somehow getting the better of me.
One day, Ilma was talking while I was teaching and disturbing the whole class. My instinct was to shout at her and quieten her down but instead I tried something new. I calmly told her that she could join our discussion instead of having one of her own. Within a fraction of second, she pushed her chair, stood up, took a few steps forward and shouted, “You B…!” Well that was definitely referral time. I sent her to the office and she received a one week suspension from school.
I am sure the readers are wondering how this could be my best teaching experience; actually it was my worst. When the week came to an end, I began dreading Ilma’s return. But I had to face the situation and not hide. I devised a plan on the day of her return. I stood at the door waiting for her. As soon as I saw her, I asked her “Ilma how are you?” She wasn’t happy to answer, but she said, “Fine.” I told her whenever she felt angry she could step outside for some time without taking my permission. From that point, Ilma was a changed student in my classroom. She listened, she actively participated. She was a smart child and I could finally see this in her. And the most ironic part of it all, she never used the privilege I had given her. I believe that just giving her the power to decide for herself made the difference.
For the last parent-teacher meeting of the year, she brought me a rose and you know what she whispered my ears? “Sorry ma’am for that day”, and she gave me a hug saying that she didn’t want to go to class 3. That was the most touching moment in my short teaching career.
This experience changed me as a teacher. Students are also people who have feelings and who don’t want to feel cornered. They want to learn but also want to feel some level of control. Every student is different; no two students react in the same way. It is our task as teachers to find not only what motivates each student to learn but also what motivates them to misbehave. If we can convince them that we are there to help them then we can go a long way towards creating a more effective classroom and learning experience.