Thoughts on Teachers

This week at work, I conducted group programs for high-school students. It was about peer relationships. Basically, given the topic, I was catering to a whole class. Due to time constraints, I ran 2 sessions with 2 groups — one group of 25 and one of 15. I could not control the first group at all. They were off! This, in spite of me having a good relationship with the kids. They didn’t harass me or anything but they knew I am not a disciplinarian (read: not a teacher and therefore, will not hand out punishments). They are good kids, but they obviously get out of hand.
Anyway, my experience made me think back to my school days when we did give a couple of teachers a hard time. However, more importantly, it made me think back to some of the teachers — from school and through to uni — who have made an impact on my life. I guess I would like to pay a tribute to them — to the unsung heroes. Since it’d be appropriate to view some of these teachers of mine chronologically, that is exactly what I am going to do:

SS: In Primary school in Salalah…he was a Chemistry teacher and never did teach me. However, he did travel on the school bus that I did and encouraged my reading ability. At that young age, I was always seen with a book, either borrowed from the school library or one that had been added to my own library at home. His nickname for me was ‘Bookworm’ and for some reason, that only enhanced my interest in books and the world of fiction. When I left Salalah at the age of 9, he wrote in my ‘autograph book’ back then about pursuing my dreams and continuing to read and build my library. Guess what, SS, I still love reading and I have also engaged in creative writing thanks to your encouragement.

RV: My Maths teacher from the 7th till the 10th. Maths was never my favourite subject as I was never great at it (except for statistics!). The only time I think I did well with RV was in the 10th when I got an 80-something. But the main thing is that all thought the years, she continued to encourage me and appeared to have more faith in my mathematical abilities than I ever did! She always told me she thought I was capable of doing so much better. And when in my 10th Board exams, I managed to get 91 percent, I think she was happier than I was upon hearing the news. In fact, due to her encouragement, I ended up choosing maths as an elective in the 11th and 12th even though I was in the Arts stream. Thank you for your faith in me, RV, and for all the good things you had to say about me. At a time when my self-esteem was not developing too well, she along with a couple of other teachers, kept me sane.

PS: She was my English teacher in the 9th and 10th. English was always my favourite subject and I continued performing well with her. What stood out though, was her encouragement in other areas — such as telling me to participate in extempores and debates. Back in school, I suffered from severe stage fright (which I have only begun to manage recently i.e. in my Masters). I was so scared of evaluation that I didn’t participate and if I had to, I’d sweat, speak realllllll quickly, feel sick…you name it! Anyway, PS spoke to my mum and told her about my potential. She also told me that. She also supported my decision to take up Arts and sort of convinced my mum who was doubtful. I thought she was a great teacher and it was a shame that I didn’t have her earlier when I could have done something about the stage fright. But, thanks to her, I pursued Arts in one of the best colleges for the stream in India.

RP: Moving on to college, RP taught me Psychology throughout my Bachelors. Right from Introductory psych to Developmental psych to Organisational psych. But it’s not the stuff on psychology that she taught that I remember. I remember other things. She was the most positive person I had ever met. And still is. For a cynic like me, that was a strange experience. But she had the ability to uplift everyone. She would do her best to end the lesson with little anecdotes or sayings or platitudes…and on a stressful day, they were really nice to hear. On a more personal note, she was a big help when it came to my research in the second year. She took the time out to assist me with the area and delve further into it. More importantly, she helped me with my anxiety surrounding the research and having to present it in front of a group. Finally, she was very helpful when it came to giving me a reference for further study in Australia. She had some really nice things to say about me, although like most of my teachers, she did think I had the potential to do better.

FW: My first year in Australia — pursuing my postgraduate diploma in psychology — I had FW as my supervisor for my research project. She was a delight to work with. While her area of psychology was the least of my interests (biological and perceptual psychology to be precise), the experience working with her was amazing. She was the most relaxed and easy-going persons I’d known. Me, being the highly anxious perfectionist, had to clarify the research question a zillion times and FW was only too willing to patiently explain it all to me. She was so supportive all the way through. She could tell every time I was stressing out and would reassure me no end. She was almost like a friend to me and the person I was working with. She has an amazing sense of humour and kept our spirits up throughout the tedious research project. She believed we would do a great job. And we did not disappoint. So thank you, FW for making the research seem so worthwhile in the end.

TH: Last but not least, TH, my lecturer and supervisor during the Masters. He still is my supervisor. Right from the first pass out (where you administer a psych test to him), where he told me that he thought I’d be great working with children, to encouraging me during my thesis, TH has made me believe in myself. He made me realise that I was pursuing the right career path. He helped raising my self-esteem. He bore with me during my panic attacks regaring the thesis. He constantly encouraged me. And he is great in his area of teaching. He told me I could use him as a reference for any job. He agreed to be a reference for my immigration application. He has even said some really nice things to me (e.g. I should get residency as I will increase the average intelligence and niceness of Australia :P). I don’t think he realises the impact he has had on me but it is so great that I don’t have enough words to describe it. So thanks heaps TH…for supporting me and for believing in me all this time.

I certainly appreciate these teachers who have come through during different phases in my life and I am so grateful to have had them. They have all had an impact on me, my development, my self-esteem in more ways than one.

I wish they knew just how much.

Until next time,


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