A Second Chance
It all started with a conversation over coffee with my husband. We had shifted to Gurgaon after five long, wonderful years in Chennai and I had quit my corporate job to take care of my son. But as an independent working woman turned home-maker, I had this inner struggle to get out of my comfort zone and do something meaningful. My husband suggested that I attend an information session of “ I Am A Teacher” (IAAT) in Heritage School which was right next door. I immediately researched about the program and one look at their website made me crave to go back to my school days and re-live all the fun-filled experiences. That was the first time the thought of being a teacher crossed my mind. And once I attended the session, I realised there is a dearth of good teachers in our education system today. The decision was spontaneous! The program is designed to train a cohort of educators who wanted to be and lead the change they believe is needed in the education system and I wanted to be a part of it.
With IAAT, I stepped into a new world of learning – a space where the journey of learning began with unlearning. It has been a journey of facing fears, inhibitions, apprehensions and physical constraints to celebrate and embrace the unique individual one is. The first leg of the journey began with a five day retreat in the middle of wilderness where we, a group of aspiring educators, were put through extraordinary experiences and then reflect on those experiences collectively. It was a powerful journey of self-exploration unlike anything I have experienced before. But what is the purpose of working on inner self for people who want to be teachers was a question that bothered me. It did not take me long to realise that to truly make a difference in the lives of other people, be it children or adults, it is important to know and understand oneself. The self has long been neglected in educational and professional spaces to the extent that we have started to believe that it is dispensable. And while this may allow for greater efficiencies and practicality, it has also stolen from us some of life’s greatest gifts – joy, love, clarity, purpose – which make life beautiful and meaningful. We cannot live our own lives shrouded in darkness, sadness and confusion if we hope to provide a loving and caring environment to children where they can access life’s gifts and flourish as human beings. And similarly, we cannot hope to make good teachers if we do not want to be learners ourselves. However my doubts and anxiety was put to rest as we immersed ourselves in experience after experience that showed me that it is actually never too late to begin learning.
I came back from the retreat rejuvenated. Unfortunately due to unavoidable circumstances I had to quit the course immediately thereafter and shift to Mumbai. A few months later, I got a call from IAAT asking whether I would be interested to re-join the course in the subsequent batch. With a heavy heart I replied that I have shifted to Mumbai for good and hence will be unable to pursue it. A moment of pause… and then with a warm tone they informed me that IAAT was starting in Mumbai in collaboration with American School of Bombay! My happiness knew no bounds. I knew I could restart my journey. And since that day, there has been no looking back. It has been a beautiful journey so far of learning to become an educator, of reflecting, of transforming, of believing.
In order to be a truly effective teacher, you must know your students, and most importantly, you must know yourself– Peter Filene.