When the teacher becomes the taught

By Gayathri Devulapalli, Teacher at Tejasvita

As a teacher at Tejasvita in the Preschool program, I work with children very closely and I view this as a great opportunity for my own growth.  Each passing day with the children brings in fresh insights and opens up the window of opportunity even more. It makes us unlearn our old beliefs and learn new ones. This is because of the children and the process of working with them. Let me say that the relationship we teachers share with the children is a symbiotic one. A symbiosis where we help the children to realise/explore their potential and they help in turn by making us grow as people. If you are wondering if this is even possible then I can say an emphatic “yes”. Children do this unintentionally and that is what makes it even more impactful. A tiny word here, an innocent conversation there are what I am talking about. Let me share some of these experiences to make it clearer.

A beautiful instance comes to mind. One day, during art activity which  is an opportunity for the child to unleash, explore his/her creativity through process based art, we had given play dough with moulds to children. We had demonstrated to the children, how to use the simple moulds to make models. All the children were working with the moulds very intently. One boy came up to me and showed me his creation with the dough. The boy had explored the dough with his free hands without the moulds. He told me that he had made a “JCB”. I got to understand that a  “JCB” is a crane used for construction of buildings etc. He also told me about the construction work going on near his house and how he loved watching the JCB do its work. His creation did not look like JCB to me but the child’s belief that it was a JCB made me realise what self-belief can actually do. Self-belief breaks all the limiting boundaries around us and makes us free. And with self-belief we are free to explore, learn and grow. As adults we worry about the goals and destination and in the process forget to enjoy the beautiful journey unfolding with interesting experiences. The little child made me realize the simple pleasure of exploring something with a free/unbiased/limitless mind without worrying about perfection and correctness. We as adults who are constantly trying to fit into moulds of perfection and  conformity, suddenly realise that all these do not hold any weight in the world of children. It was indeed a big learning for me. 

Our journey, as teachers, is loaded with such experiences every day at Tejasvita. Each experience is a rung which adds up to the ladder of our growth. Another example is when we were doing a pattern recognition activity with the children, and I got to know what pure innocent joy was. I understood how happiness can be brought about with simplest things in life. In this particular activity we asked the children to make patterned “torans” using a strip of paper and mango leaves themed paper cutouts. We gave the children, paper leaves of different colours and asked them to stick the leaves on a strip of paper in a pattern. We also gave them decorative articles to decorate their “toran”. The children enjoyed the activity very much and poured over various designs to decorate their toran.  Normally, we take their creations back from them and give it back to them only after a few months, after evaluating their work. But this time, when we told them that they could take these creations home, they were ecstatic. The pleasure of seeing them derive joy from such a simple gesture was amazing. They had an extra “skip” in their gait that day owing to this. Wonderful isn’t it?

These are but a few examples of what I experience every day with the children of Tejasvita. The impact of working with children also helps me to become more patient, more aware and empathetic towards children. I have now become more thoughtful and mindful than before,  when I am around children. Each child is unique and has a different thought process. I realise that applying the same formula to help/teach all children will not work. We as teachers must be ready to adapt and change our methods of helping children after knowing them a little better. This is what a symbiotic relationship is all about. Isn’t it?

 

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