A Teacher – What does she mean to YOU?

Having spent half a decade in teaching profession, I had the opportunity to work and interact with the most unfortunate fraternity of the most powerful, yet the most helpless souls on earth – teachers – and yes, I was one of them.

I am calling teachers the most powerful souls because they shape a country’s future, by nurturing its potential resources – students. But, why am I calling them helpless? You will get to know in the next 3 minutes of reading this post.

Year 2003: A woman, in her early thirties or late forties, wakes up at 4 am. Cooks lunch for her old in-laws, husband, and children. She packs everyone’s lunchbox, including hers. Makes breakfast at 6:30 am and feeds her school going kids and her husband at 8 am; sends them off to work and school. Then, breathlessly gets ready to rush to work (misses her own breakfast in the rush to reach school early, before the school assembly starts, and to avoid the nasty yelling of the school Principal).

Reaches school at 8:45 am, almost discharging all her energies all the way enters the classroom, comprising 45 teenaged students. Tries to calm a noisy class, fearing the Principal and other teachers might consider her incapable of managing a class.

Then, she starts the class. Forgets all her stress she has undergone since morning. She teaches her students with all her efforts and abilities. Tries her best that she communicates well, and her students understand what she is explaining.

She spends all day doing this. In the end of the month, she is paid a meager 2500 to 5000 bucks. But she doesn’t mind! She loves her work of interacting with students – guiding them – being their friend, psychologist, and parent – performing multiple roles.

There is no scope for promotion and no hopes of a good pay. Because there is no performance management process in place. But, she strives hard to do her best.

During this journey of being a teacher, some students leave a mark on her mind and heart, by their abilities to do better – in academics, sports, or cultural activities. She gets closer to these kinds of students. In the process, she never forgets others. She tries to find talent in others – because she believes each student is blessed with a unique quality. At times, she is successful in doing this, at times is not.

But, she never gives up! In Creative Thinking classes, or in proxy classes, she makes her best efforts to interact with as many students as possible. Understand them and their issues – makes efforts to resolve them.

When her students perform well in class, she feels overjoyed. And when they don’t, she works hard to make them do well next time – encourages them to do better day by day.

On occasions, her patience gives way (not to forget that she is a human being after all!!). She slaps a student and tells him what a worthless effort it was to have expectations from him/her.

Gets back home with the burden of slapping a student, whom she is nurturing with all her care, just so she feels proud of his/her achievements, years later. For her, slapping, punishing, or admonishing a student is just like doing the same to her own child.

But the world outside – comprising the school authority, parents, and also her students for that matter, don’t think that way. Their expectations are very high – incommensurable! For them, she is super-human – an epitome of patience, knowledge, and a field of undying energies. They forget that she is a human being who is underpaid and overstressed, yet helps her students graduate from one class to another – learning concepts to concepts – developing them mentally and psychologically, preparing them to step out to the BIGGER world outside.

Imagine a time years later: She takes pride to see her students doing well in life – someone is an IIT alumnus and an engineer; someone is a doctor; someone is a Business Consultant, while someone works with an accountancy firm. For her, all are successful in their own fields. She boasts of laying the early bricks in the foundation of their career.

She is happy and content. Whenever she looks at the mirror, she doesn’t regret growing old or seeing her greying hair. Her heart brims with pride that she spent her youthful days preparing her students for their respective careers.

But, one day she is in tears. She finds a page on social media, with hate speeches against her colleagues, made by her own students. She feels helpless – ruined – devastated. She finds a couple of good comments about her. But, how does that matter?

She told herself: This is what I nurtured them for? This is what I taught them? Did I go wrong somewhere in educating them? Didn’t I tell them not to follow the blinding and injuring principle of “An eye for an eye”?!! Was my love and care – motivation and encouragement not enough that they started expecting the same from all?

I taught them to be good in all circumstances – I taught them to be kind.

Tear drops go gliding down her aging cheeks. She buries her face under her wrinkled arms, and weeps for hours.

For the first time, in years of teaching, she realizes the thanklessness of the profession. She feels forgotten and lost. She feels broken from within.


12 thoughts on “A Teacher – What does she mean to YOU?

  1. And yet, we never tried to understand the reason behind the over reaction and the slap – ¤maybe she had a big quarrel with her husband that morning,

    ¤maybe she wants a child but can’t conceive

    ¤maybe her own child has gone to the dogs while her students continue to fluorish

    ¤maybe the principal just gave her a dressing down because her students performed badly.

    Thankless profession, indeed.

    1. Thanks for understanding, Shubho. My point was: Find good things in others – be it your teacher or your friends – no one is perfect. It is easy to point fingers at others, but tough to justify your weaknesses.

  2. My mother was a teacher as well and i would never want this to happen with my mom or for that matter with any of my beloved teachers for they contributed enormously to my little success in life.Students/sons/daughters have no right to ridicule their source of knowledge.No individual has ever succeeded by betraying their parents/teachers. Such attitude can only lead anyone to a halo of failures(SORROWS) in the greater version of life.
    Walking down the lanes one is bound to realize his mistakes and i wish luck that the realization comes sooner than later.

  3. The kind of character shown by that student in making those nasty confessions is nothing but immoral. He has totally failed in his pursuit of attaining knowledge. He may be working for a big MNC or may be an alumnus of an IIT or an IIM, but he is still illiterate because all he did all these years was memorizing what was written in the books. He hasn’t learned to respect his elders, teachers neither has he attained the maturity to understand that people hurt you sometimes because they care for you and want you to live your life as an honest, dignified person. And I strongly feel that the teacher should not blame herself because she did it for good.

  4. A teacher means a lot to me. Whatever I am today is because of my teachers.

    Teaching is a noble profession. I regard teaching as one of the noblest of all professions in the world.

    I really feel sad that after all the years of teaching the students have let you down by posting hate speeches. 😦

    1. I think each one of us must have encountered harsh, partial, and rude teachers, along with a couple of great teachers.
      If you ask about me, honestly, I never felt broken or angered by their words. In our times, we BELIEVED that teachers have the right to be harsh or rude. Reason? They are nururing us!

      If my father tells me that I am hopeless, will I start posting hate speeches against him? NEVER!

      When I read the hate speeches posted on this page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/HCHS-Confession/133581716823213?fref=ts#!/pages/HCHS-Confession/133581716823213, I felt deeply troubled.

      I just realized one thing: My goodness and teaching, both, went in drains. I have nurtured such heartless minds. I am extremely saddend.

  5. TEACHER- the word itself holds gravity, and that can’t surely be denied by anyone. No doubt, there would have been quarrels or whatever but no one ever gives a thought to the fact that if they learned to write or speak the simplest of words, that is because a teacher spent his/her valuable time for that.

    I can’t deny that some of the teachers, back in my school years, did under-estimate me, but their contribution on nurturing me into what I am today can’t be ignored, can it? And, I owe my life to these wonderful people on Earth.

  6. I’ll be true here! Even when I was in school, I found few teachers dissapointed. I found teachers who least bothered to even knod when I wished them leave aside teaching. My sister comes to me and greives about her class teacher being bias in selecting volunteers for a particular function. Somehow that connect is horribly missing nowadays. But I’d also mention that all are not the same. Infact I’ve been lucky enough to come across few amazing and out standing teachers in my life as school/college/home tutors. I am in the shed of few even now. All I have in my heart for them is IMMENSE RESPECT! However I honestly feel if you don’t respect someone, no one gives you the right to disrespect them publicly. I guess these are all the ill effects of social media. Too much of anything is bad.
    But ma’am plz dont think all our efforts went in drains! You’ve students like us on your credit who would never indulge into such cheap display of emotions!!!

  7. I guess Sorry won’t be enough for what was done (by my school mates)…

    I distinctly remember an incident of yours:

    You used to teach us Geography and it was after Unit Tests. You showed us answer sheets. A girl came upto you and said, “Miss, why have you given me 0 in this answer. Only one word is wrong.”

    You replied, “That was the keyword. It means you don’t know the thing. So, 0.”

    That incident stuck with me throughout the years (even now). Inspite of anyone says anything, you do create an impact.
    Students realise that importance (although lately)…

    All I request you in not lose faith on us.

    P.S: You still inspire me. (I can find someone I love too. It is not something that exists in books only)

    1. Dear Gagan,

      I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experience with me. I am touched and humbled. It is because of students like you that I always felt rewarded in a thankless teaching career.

      I have not lost faith on my students. Just that I chose to withdraw and watch from a distance. Students like you will always find me around.


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