A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)

Perspectives

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Yesterday, we had Class Parent Teacher Meeting in school. We’ve had numerous PTA Meetings, where attendance is usually limited to parents who want to make an noise and bring in complaints (never, till date, have I ever seen a meeting here, where something positive, either about Student/Teacher is expressed!), and some grouped meetings, that Parents of some classes grouped together are asked to attend to discuss common matters pertaining to that class. Usually to do with syllabus or general developmental issues (of Children ie).

In the newly patterened meeting, the Parents of one Class, the same division of the class, met together with the Class Teacher and their children, in a full group, had a general session followed by individual one on one meeting for those parents who wanted to have more to say/ask. From nine in the morning to twelve noon the room was fully populated 🙂 Well I have 52 students, most of whose parents did attend 🙂 .

A lot of common issues were taken up first, else what usually happens is that the same question gets asked innumerable times. Eg. My son/daughter does not read. How can I get him/her to do so? Or He/She just does not open her text books! What can we do.
(Mind you, this same question would have been asked by the same parent, on all the previous occasions we would have met 😀 Do you get the exasperated feeling I sometimes have? )  So these were addressed early, in the whole group, thinking that it would not get repeated later. Boy! Was I wrong! Now I know I shall have even more patience with their kids! 😀

A few pointers were also given. Asking parents to be aware of what their child does on the internet, their use of FB, who calls, what is discussed 😀 And also the fact that most times notes are copied over the phone, instead of being completed in class, where they are given time to 😀

The moment I indicated that the general session was over, my table was surrounded. Fighting panic, I suggested the parents join a line that had already formed, to my right, where there was more space. I must admit that they complied. Perhaps because I did not listen to anyone’s remarks/questions/ suggestions, but only smiled, broadly and insisted, patiently that they do. The smile I am sure did not reach my eyes! 😛 And, well, they probably knew what their kids had told them about the ogre I could be 😛 😛

While most parents were kind and inquired after my health, and expressed they were glad to see my (typo, do excuse me :D) me back, one particular irritable parent came with his stubborn looking son, and his long suffering wife. (This child had, in the previous year, been caught for being part of a group of boys who supplied/exchanged/ shared pornographic films – they’re known more familiarly here as “Blue Films” – in school. Sigh. Please believe this to be entirely true. 😦 ) The child in question, let’s call him A, was all ready for a verbal lashing from the teacher (me) to his father, who was adept at it, and who looked belligerently, daring the teacher to say anything kind about him. I mean, here was a child, who has never had much positive said about him, either at home, or at school (an only child).

Father: Teacher, what do you have to say about him? (Pointing to his son, whose expression was filled with daggers at his father)

A (his thoughts, probably): Dad, can’t you just shut up?!

Me: Oh, A? Yes, well, he’s improved vastly, and he pays attention in class. I must tell you that was one the few children in class who had completed his notes and had even done it neatly. I checked yesterday. Isn’t it, A? (A. nods, quickly looks at father, and the sullen expression is back when he sees no smile on his father’s face.)

Father: But, teacher, he does not speak in English at all!

Me: Oh he does, to me, in English class. And in most of the other classes!

Father: But to others in class, he does not. (all this is spoken in Malayalam 😛 )

Me: (Smiling through my teeth 😀 )You see, Sir, why does anyone use a language? To communicate. And if A can communicate in Malayalam, when there is no need for him to use it (read, no Teachers are around to check 😀 ) why would he? Would you? Language as I see it, is need based, and if they can get by in another language they will. Most kids I know, who can speak English fluently still use Malayalam to interact with each other. All classes. And if he were to continuously speak only in English, he would be laughed at, here. Peer pressure is a strong deterrent, so while I am sorry he does, not, and because we do not have “punishments” to check that, sometimes this happens. But , I assure you, he can speak, and well too.

Father: (more annoyed) But something has to be done! He does not read at all!

Me: Do you? (turning to his wife, who had a deadpan expression, and let her husband do all the talking; I’ve been told that neither her son, nor her husband value her words or opinions) Do you?

Father: Yes, I do. And I buy him books.

Me: Do you read, with him? I mean, during the same time, share things with him, etc?

Father: But he does not! (he hasn’t answered my question, but I’ve had it with him, and am beginning to feel sorry for the child! )

Me: Have you tried incentives? Do, please, and do remember that they’re at an age when it is difficult for them to cope with so much of stimuli around them. I assure you, A will do well, and he will be able to do all of this!

A. by now is looking rather astonished at this exchange, but quickly brings back the stubborn expression when noticed. The unhappy father, the long-suffering mother and their recalcitrant son are then gently signalled off, with a sweet “thank you, we’ll certainly work on this”, and the next parent invited to come up! Phew!  I almost wiped imaginary beads of sweat from my brow, theatrically 😛

The next parent had been all ears, at this exchange and the moment she stepped up with her son B. , who is A.’s classmate, she said, Teacher, you don’t have to say anything more! I know what you’re trying to say, and yes, I did want to tell you all about B, being this way. But yes, the peer pressure is a factor we do need to take account of! Thank God for parents like this 🙂 They give me back my faith in humanity 🙂 🙂

For three hours, I stood (as did my brethren at school 🙂 ), smiled, talked, endlessly. But I must say that it was fruitful. We did not give out report cards, we simply shared what we knew of the children, discussed ways and means for their betterment, sometimes complained a little (both parents, and me 😀 ), ranted a bit (me 😛 ), and I do believe we have all taken away something positive from the interaction.

This meeting was something a lot of us were against saying that it would have been better had it been a bigger group, not small individual class groups, but I know I was wrong in thinking that. Tired, and rather exhausted though I was, I learnt a lot, and gained much by it. For once, I’m happy to be wrong 🙂

22 January, 2012
(I’m Keeping My Promise to myself (posting each Sunday), though I’ve decidedly become wordy again! 😛 Can’t help it 🙂 )
#92

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Author: Usha Pisharody

A rambler, pretends to be a teacher, loves to dream, and go on Quixotic Quests in the Realm of Romance With Life...

18 thoughts on “Perspectives

  1. Every time I see my daughter’s teachers, I just get amazed at their dedication. I know, for a fact that it is not a job that that I would be able to do justice to. And the way you write about your students, I can see how lucky your students are, to have you!

    So many parents are ready to challenge teachers without even realizing that a child learns as much from them as from their teachers. And the environment, priorities at home will influence the child as much, if not more.

    Here’s to mote teachers like you and hoping that my daughter continues to have teachers like you in her life.

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  2. Smitha, that is such a wonderful observation you have made, that children learn as much from their parents, as they do from their teachers! And more often than not, restrictive environs of the home tend to make aggressive and totally unruly kids outside the home! That influence is something parents still have to perceive, and accept.

    And thank you for the kind words, though I am not sure about being that way 🙂 But I do love being with them and though it’s sometimes rough at the end of the day, it is what brings me the greatest satisfaction too 🙂

    Thank you so much, Smitha!

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  3. I went back to my sons’ PTA meetings in their schools! They had good teachers like you, Usha!

    I remember once I complained to a teacher that my younger son played at school till late and came home late. Could she ask the school authorities to send the children home by 5.30 at least. I remember her reply even now: ‘This is their age of playing. Let them play. You and I cannot play if we want to, at our age’. I stopped worrying about my son coming home late!.

    Both of my sons had good teachers and they did very well in subjects of their favourite teachers! I still miss their school going days!

    I am sure the boy A’s and his father’s nature will change in the days to come.

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    • Thank you Sandhya ji, for the visit and the kind words for the write, and for sharing your experiences with PTA meetings 🙂 It is my sincere hope that first of all, the child’s father will learn to accept certain ground realities, and that in some way this will better his relationship with is son!
      Your son’s teacher is a wonderful sport, and so are you for having accepted her perspective and together, you’ve ensured your sons had a wonderful time at school too! That, truly is what should be happening!

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  4. Brought back memories of school meetings I have attended in the past. Luckily for me neither did I have complaints nor did the teachers about both my children. But I have been witness to some similar scenes 🙂
    Ogre eh? Lol, I remember the only time I was a teacher (of Economics, for a year and a quarter) and found out much to my surprise that they were in awe of me! Five feet nothing and weighing just 40 kilos.

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    • Lucky you Shail, but then you’re very grounded, and consequently your children too would have been helped 🙂 Lucky them too! 🙂 These scenes have been playing out, in almost all PTA meetings, with most of us, and even when we were in school, there would be stray parents who’d be like this, or sometimes the teachers. But these days, such incidents are the norm, most often!
      I’m not surprised they, your students, were in awe of you. I am, even now :D! Believe me, it has nothing to do with stature or whether you’re a woman… :D! Sometimes it’s like that 🙂
      Thank you Shail 🙂

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  5. Usha first of all congrats on surviving a PTA…I know how it can be used to teach in my daughters school( voluntary) ..Although its easy to blame teachers or parents but how you handled the situation of the kid A is really commendable..I wish there were more teachers like you who understand that there is a life outside books where kids learn ot of things and that if parents are not actively participating in a kids life they will never understand properly where his/her problem lies..just blaming your kid on a PA will never solve anything
    well done and thanks for such a lovely share hugs 🙂

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    • Soma, thank you 🙂
      I know that you too think of that aspect of life beyond the strictures of a school. And that is precisely what I had tried to talk of. Participating in your child’s activities, learning, et al, not just controlling it. One of the horrifying things is the amount of exposure they have to all sorts of influences, and for a child who has a restrictive atmosphere at home, and in school, it is so easy for him/her to take another darker path altogether!
      Thank you for sharing in this also. Hugs 🙂

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  6. I am sure this would bring back memories for all parents 🙂 When my daughter was young I was always told in every PTM, that she talked too much in class, and my niece was told the same thing, and then my brother asked her in adoring wonderment, “But please tell me what do you talk about?”
    I think it’s really nice to have teachers who can bring out what needs improvement without belittling a student, and parents of course. I knew of one father who said he didn’t see how a teacher could ‘control’ his son without corporal punishment, when he couldn’t.
    Your students are fortunate to have a teacher who can understand why they don’t read, or why they don’t speak in English. Sad that some parents can’t 😦

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    • IHM, it is so true that most parents wonder that we can manage without corporal punishment, and that they are sure we must be doing it, or how else were we able to get results. That would be a laugh, if it weren’t so sad. On the other hand, there are teachers who still use corporal punishment, which is inhuman and illegal to boot, and are strong believers of the rod rules theory. Sadder still.
      I love your brother’s question. 🙂 These days however, we discovered lately is a game of “bad words/ bad language”- who knows most and whose has the most intense level of obscenity. 😦 Apparently this is a game played out between youngsters. Well, the GK is catered to by the stimuli they are surrounded by!!
      Today in school, I happened to mention this interaction with A’s dad, and was glad to note that at least two other teachers who take class for him, rooted for him, and begged the father to try and get down to his level, and learn to be more acceptable. Mind you, this child is one of those “trouble-makers” (hate the labelling! 😦 ). Our students, in that sense are lucky to have empathetic teachers, most of the staff anyway!
      Thank you IHM, for sharing in this, and the kind words 🙂 🙂

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  7. I only remember PTA sessions being held int he Bombay school (when I stayed with uncle-aunt) and not Ahmedabad school where mom could come. PTA was umm. fun.. A frequent from the teachers was that I talked a lot. Would give competition to some of the girls .. But talking is so much fun.. sigh, they wouldn’t *unserstand* .. But my bbay teachers are awesome. It was fun to learn from them, and for that neither of us had a complaint. My aunt always cribbed that I got lower marks than I should, and my teachers coolly said that it all depended on how much effort I wanted to put in (of which they said that unless I took a personal interest in things, I would put in the minimum). They encouraged in doing things.. From making masks and puppets for craft class and having the KG kids (and not them) mark us for putting up the best puppet act, to making KBC simulators to get us in to programming (that was when KBC had first come out). Technically we were to have one period of library per week, where we could have different books issued to us. However, they encouraged us by having us write reviews of the books we read and ‘publishing’ the good ones on the notice boards. And these were the things that were also discussed in PTA (like how you told of the boy A) that how good a child was in such thigns as well instead of cribbing about his or her performance

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    • Welcome here, Hrishi, and thank you for your observations 🙂 Indeed only in mentioning more of the child’s other abilities than the academics will the learner group also find their niche.
      That was a nice school you went to, where such activities were just as important. Glad, really glad!
      Thanks for participating in this blog too!

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      • Today this post makes me feel a tad afraid.

        I have had my fair share of doing things one is not supposed, and not doing things one is supposed to. Kids in their teens are very impressionable, and fragile. You never know what form of reward or punishment leads to what sort of permanent impression on their thought process.

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        • Kids will be kids, and the discerning ones will at some point question who they had been and what they did 🙂 And that is all. But indeed, just like the early years, the teen years are so darned fragile. There’s so much of idealism and rebellion within that it’s so hard to come to terms with many things. Even we, without the added distraction of the virtual world, struggled a fair bit. So it’s a minefield of things waiting to blow up, for the kids these days. And yet we expect them to conform as we did. That is the first thing that we need to throw out of our perceptions. The hardest too, let me add. 🙂
          And yet again, when I reply to this comment, I want to share what I have been garnering over the years. A sense of peace finally, when you meet young people who were just like you, and knowing, to a certain extent, what goes on in their minds, and responding to it in a manner you’d have wanted your teacher to do so. I guess I have been given a reprieve 🙂
          Hrishi, I’m sure you ARE over it. And that you’re ok with it too! 🙂

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  8. So PT meetings are the same all over the world! Glad to know that. I like the way you dealt with the worried parents. I too try the same: not adding fuel to the already burning fire.
    Teachers get to see many batches of students, and in the long run they learn that children of a particular age group have almost the same problems (quite normal in that age). But for parents it’s once or twice in a lifetime experience. I think all they need is some sort of reassurance from the teacher’s side.

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    • Bindu, glad to know too that PT meeting are similar there too! (Would have hated to be the only ones suffering 😛 😛 ) Kidding! But you are right when you speak of the anxiety on the part of the parents. They really are. And it is for them that no matter we’ve said this, or done that before, we need to go patiently through each one, and give them that space to recover too!
      Thank you, Bindu, for the insights you bring in 🙂

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