Note: Have you ever received "A Letter from the Future"? A letter from one of your current 2nd grade students maybe? Here's one such letter. Dear Educator, the future looks up to you. There's a lot of hope and joy in store there. Because, we know you cared for this child today! Read on...
You may not remember me. I was in your school. Joined in 2nd grade...year 2019. I would like to talk to you about my first day at our school. I was a shy boy who walked into our school with wide-eyed wonder and apprehension. This was a new school for me. I didn't tell anyone then. But I was worried. Anxious and almost fearful.
But little did my 7 year old self know that this day would be a turning point in my life. I walked into my classroom with shaky legs and butterflies in my tummy. The first thing that met my eyes was a chart that asked me how I felt. It had everything from sad to OK to happy. I was intrigued. So it's ok to feel sad or ok in a class? Really?
That was probably the school walls telling me that "I hear you. I care for you." I felt safe and free.
That's when Rekha miss walked in gracefully in a blue cotton saree, her smiling lifting up the whole class instantaneously. I stood up to sing the usual "Goood mooorniiing Miss" that I was used to. But instead the class jumped in to do a little activity written in a card from a box that Rekha Miss had kept on her table. What fun it was!!
She asked us to pick up our books. I got ready with my writing gear notebook, pencil, eraser and all. My parents had prepared me...you see. "Listen carefully. You have to be fast in copying answers from the blackboard. Write neatly. And you can't make mistakes either. Because you will then get red cross mark on your notebook."
But that day, Miss didn't write any answers on the black board. Instead she started questioning us. We were told to first 'talk to our neighbour' and 'write down OUR answers'. I was taken aback. How? It was always the teacher who wrote answers. Right? And why 'talk' in class? Whatever happened to 'children...pindrop silence'?
The girl next to me nudged me to look at a revolving chart on the wall, that now read normal. That meant we could talk. And she also told me, there are even times when we could be noisy. Now that was just my cup of tea. And the girl, Maya was my first friend in the school. We discussed the activity...wrote down OUR thoughts. Rekha Miss even read out our answers. Looks like later she even shared it with my mom.
For the first time in my tiny life then, I felt heard.
From then on...I came to school with a little jump in my steps. School was fun. Learning was fun. My fear of the red cross mark vanished. I was free to think. Free to express. And was guided gently when wrong and appreciated for every little effort I took to learn in school.
As time went by, I realised there were more teachers like Rekha Miss. And when mamma and papa came to school, my teachers never reported my grades to them. Instead they told my parents how I learnt what I learnt. Later mamma told me "every PTA meeting I used to learn something new about you". That was such a relief. In fact it reflected in their behaviour when they sat with me for "home-fun".
Yes...my ‘homework’ was never a burden, it was 'homefun'.
Coming back to today, you may wonder why after all these years I decided to take a trip down the memory lane. There's a reason. I turn 27 today. Every birthday I look back on my life's journey so far. Can't help it... some habits die hard.
When in school, you always taught me the value of reflection. Can’t drop it now. Can I?
My journey so far has had its ups and downs. It was not always rosy but every block on the road was just another problem I had to solve. Think critically...be resilient and persevere. The values I learned always taught me to look beyond these obstacles and also look within myself for answers.
I took up Science. Loved it in school...and it continues to be my first love. I was also passionate about teaching. Role plays in school gave me my first signal that I had it in me. My first job was as that of a researcher. That was tough, challenging, and yet extremely satisfying.
And... today I begin my new job. My second one. As a science teacher in a little school. Having seen teachers like Rekha Miss...I know it's a lot of hard work. I am aware of how she was a lifelong learner.
But I think I am up for it. If I may say so...I am confident because I am happy and at peace with my choice in life.
And I have that “first day at school” to THANK for this moment in my life. The day, a school showed an anxious little boy that it cared for him. And today, I hope to pay it forward to another little boy or girl in my class.
Wish me good luck ma'am. And thank you for everything.
Class of 2029