A Quest on Overdrive … :)

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


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Red October

Reader discretion advised, as this post is more or less a vent.

And no it has nothing to do with that wonderful film, The Hunt for Red October, though I must say that it has certain elements of despair and helplessness seen in it, but that film sort of ends well, and that is the hope with which this too is written, that on Sunday next, 1 November, 2015, I shall write of how the acid tests and the baptism by fire went.

October is at once a happy month, mid way, because it is a darling daughter’s birthday, but it is also a month where I tear myself up, lose a lot of hair, to pulling, and to stress. I’ve just come away from a very pertinent read on teacher responsiblity, and teacher health (LINK) and it suddenly came home to me, that YES! the amount of sleep teachers, these days, lose in this month has to be rather catastrophic. Really. I’m serious.

"We're popping bubble wrap because it's cheaper than tranquilizers."

“We’re popping bubble wrap because it’s cheaper than tranquilizers.”

So what causes this? Simple. It isn’t just lesson preparation, though that too is part of it. It is the pressure of grading end of term papers, computing endlessly to decode/encode grades. And no, it isn’t because, like the kids in class, we do last minute work. There really is a need to give of oneself during this month in a way that sometime, to my jaundiced mind, seems like way beyond sacrifice! (I warned you, this is a rant! Do feel free to continue reading 😛 ). Also the happy event of Open House – a free for all session of tirades, smiles, advice, complaints, appreciation, thinly veiled threats, between the stakeholders in the system – takes place around this time. I have a great time at these thingys, though I am sure this isn’t so with many of those in my fraternity. It is a period fraught with foot-in-the-mouth itis – by all and sundry. The takeaways from these sessions range from despair to howlarious laughter. More on that some-day. Back to the Red October.

stressed

What adds to this particular brand of torture, for “teachers” is that this is the season of “fests” – read inter-school competitions. Now, yes, while we have to help our learner group manage this alongside their academics, and let me tell you, they do it beautifully 🙂 , there is the added responsibility of supervising them, at practise, or if you’re interested, training them, monitoring them, mentoring them. This is just one part of it all.

The next part that I shall share has to make it known in no uncertain terms that even though the medieval forms of third degree are passé, they have evolved into other forms, especially for those who work in schools. The rack was one such device, which I do believe has found itself insidiously creeping into the system. While the earlier device was tangible and intensely physical in the way it inflicted suffering, I have discovered the the new one, or rather the revised one makes one spread oneself so thin, stretched in different directions, reaching out to responsibilities that are varied in nature, either self inflicted or generously transferred upon one. At certain points, one isn’t quite sure what one is supposed to do, but with the profound faith in oneself, and a power somewhere that will lead one onwards 🙂 one manages to do ’em all, with whatever degree of finesse one can. The degree of suffering varies, and is usually directly proportional to the level of involvement out of sheer interest or responsibility foisted upon one as a result of perceived or intentional interest espoused in certain areas. (at the risk of insulting your intelligence, I shall given you a simple example. You, as a teacher, like poetry, know how to type fast, are interested in Drama, and have a great interest in music. Western. Somehow or the other, along with the grading, report card work, you will also find yourself mentoring kids in poetry, writing, music and drama, taking class (ir)regularly, and end up with a some position in the conduct of the event. The thing is you love all this, do this, and therefore are spread very thin. The Rack, in action. )

"I'm desperate to hold on to our good teachers."

“I’m desperate to hold on to our good teachers.”

So why the rant? All of a sudden, the D-Day looms. The participants are ready. The schools gearing up. And on ground zero of the event (believe you me, if the event takes place in your home turf, it s no less than Ground Zero- the impact is inexpressibly traumatic 😀 ) the ones up front taking the flak are those in charge of the conduct of the competitions on Stage. That’s right. Stage Duty is a greater danger than Stage Fright. You can run away with your Stage Fright, but with Duty, you gotta stay put, face the fear, dig in, brave it out, and hope to God that you’ll come out of it, wits in tact. The frazzled, hassled, harried lines that etch themselves on your face are nothing. The real damage is done, within. 😀 😀 You’ve got ulcers by the dozen, and several hair roots on the head have sealed permanently. Not to mention the zombie like state that is going to be hard to recover from 😛

It’s going down, this week. Want a ringside seat to the drama unfolding? Come on over, the CBSE Kalotsav, in our District takes place at the end of this week. 28, at our sister institution, 30, 31 at ours. 🙂

stressed5

I got cookies. I will buy chocolate. And I hope it will rain. This is directed solely at the young lady who knows the lines mean something, to her and me 🙂 One of our recitation sessions.

Well, I’m a survivor, and I know that all my colleagues are too. So good luck to us, as we host the show, and to our participants, young prodigies, each of them, for a fine show to put up, at their moment! Please do hold them in your prayers and wish them luck! Go on, bring it on!!

25 October, 2015

The delightful cartoons all belong to their owners, and have been taken from a google search on stressed teachers 😛


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A Teacher Is

… what her students make of her

… what she inspires, more than what she does

… just another obstacle on the way to growing up 😀 (more so for the teacher herself 😛 )

tchrrs

 

… unforgettable; errrm… eminently forgettable?

… someone who hounds you, but can never get at you the way your parents can!

… a person you can hound, relentlessly too, provided they’re not of species that porcupines are part of, and have blunt quills to let fly 😛

… awe-inspiring on a day she is inspired too; or sometimes on a day she completely loses it, and lets loose a barrage of words you can only admire open-mouthed because you simply cannot comprehend anything other than the fact that she is MAD. 😆

… surprisingly nice, when you’d always thought otherwise; when she drops that mask, and smiles at you 🙂

tchr

… is an all-knowing deity, sometimes, especially when you’re in Class 1 🙂 ; or just another dumb blonde who did not ‘get’ that question you asked, about Stephen Hawking and his query on ….? 😀 

… someone you don’t want your parents to know, too well, anyway 😀 ; the further they keep from each other, the better all around 😀

… a budding-romance-killer 😀

… heck! a terrorist, a kind you simply cannot arrest or even complain about, to the ATS. Sigh.

… criminally more language proficient, or criminally less. Either way, it’s a no-win situation for the recipient of the language skills session 😛

… a lot, a little, more than what is, and sometimes way lesser than what one thought…

But, a teacher is …

… nothing much finally, unless she thinks so 🙂

teacher-quote-apple-back-to-schoolpic

*****

These are probably some thoughts that periodically go through the minds of the learner group, and sometimes teachers themselves. It’s funny, but rather real too, some of them; and having been part of the teaching – learning activities from both sides of the proverbial teachers’ table, I can well attest to the sentiment, or lack thereof expressed 😀 A slice of life in school, if you wish 🙂

But, on a serious note, back to that first line. This is something I have always deeply believed in. Many a time (ahem! indeed, it has been so 😀 ), when we’ve had interactions with parents, they speak of how highly the kids speak of us at home; it’s one thing to take it at face value, but another to believe fully. Each time I have been told this, I always say, and mean it too, that if there is something to be appreciated, it has to be because of the kind of learner group, or the learner himself/herself, that made it so. Appreciation is a two-way street; it has to be, for it to work it’s magic! And I can personally testify to that. I’ve learnt, and still am learning each day. Sometimes, it’s the only way to ‘teach’.

Interestingly a quote that I made a cover picture on FB went like this:

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine, should be.”

Arthur C. Clark

And so it is. In this day and age of information explosion, the only reason why teachers are needed, is to help the learner group wade through life; and that can come only from a dedicated and committed group. Much is being touted about ‘value-education’, and HOTS (HIgher Order Thinking Skills); why only teachers? Anyone and everyone that the learner group interacts with, at home, in the community, each person is just as responsible for the development of these, don’t you think? Of course, the argument being that the majority of the child’s waking hours being spent in ‘school’, it is then quite unequivocally on the teacher to ensure it, is, I find, a poor excuse to avoid accountability. This argument, I know, will, like that Ravalgon advertisement, of yore, continue … 🙂 And then again, the same ‘teachers’ ‘ value system, is it infallible? Or are they equipped with the skill set to infuse the HOTS, in their learner group?

Just a couple of days ago, a former student, Srikanth, who has just finished his Engineering had come to school, and he expressed a great desire to be part of the teaching process; interestingly he mentioned that it would not be immediately, but only after he had some experience in the field, for only then could he be able to relate the content of what he would teach, to the  environment to which his learner group would exit to, Now that is one teacher whose class I would like to be part of, absolutely 🙂 🙂

There are teachers who give of themselves generously, and those who demand. The Mahabharata exemplifies one such teacher – Dronacharya, who demanded of Ekalavya his thumb. A more un-guru like action could not ever be there, even now. Such teachers still abound, and where the proverbial thumb is not demanded, sheer bias and partiality work their poison. Sad, but true. And fewer still are the Ekalavyas of today – who would rather shrivel up and cease to exist, or maybe take the deviant path of letting all hell break loose. The devotion of the Ekalavya of yore is debatable, in its result; a teacher has no business being partial, even though it is purely human that some form of it does influence her. However, there is still to be maintained a stern and unwavering faith in one’s own ability to do the right, by each and every person who passes through one’s time, whether in the Classroom or out of it.

Finally, this here is a  tribute to all the wonderful teachers I have had, and have had the good fortune to know, and work alongside 🙂 🙂 To some of the most awesome parents too, mine, to start with: Here’s to you all!

tchrss

Google Image search threw up some wonderful quotes and pictures for ‘teacher’; and I’ve used some of them on this blog, for they say so much better than me, what I want to 🙂 All the pictures here belong to the owners of those creations; I’ve merely aired them here too 🙂

Today, I remember, with poignancy, and with a hint of mischief as well, 5 September, last year, when we had a meeting with some members of the Management, and our interaction with the legendary Dr. T. I. Radhakrishnan (link), who is no more with us. Yet another Dr. Radhakrishnan Sivan (fellow teacher at a sister school) and I were the recipients (lol, no award this! 😛 ) of questions, put by Dr. T. I. (I’ve recounted that incident on the blog dedicated to him); and how I googled the answer on my mobile 😀

Happy Birthday Dr. S. Radhakrishnan!

Happy Teachers’ Day, to the fraternity, the sorority, and to mentors, everywhere 🙂

May more such teachers continue to be sources of inspiration for us!

 

 

4 September, 2013, for 5 September, 2013

Related posts 🙂

Teachers’ Day 2012

Teachers’ Day 2011 

Teachers’ Day 2010


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The Ogre is Charmed :D

Quite seriously. You see, like the now famous Shrek, she does not even have the excuse of being banished, being green, big, and ‘un’easy on the eye. To make matters worse, she’s in human form. There. And yet, each day, whether or not she wanted it, the ogre in her would somehow make itself known, and the resultant fall-out would always make her wonder at days like she had today, or rather yesterday 🙂

But should she have been so surprised? Her kids, the ones who see her almost daily, are clever, indeed, verrryyyy clever. They’ve learnt to apply what they pick up in class. They collaborate. They research effectively. They are getting better and better at divergent thinking and delighting with their creativity. And they have such great timing 😀

Day: 14 August, 2013
Time, 3.45pm, thereabouts, special class for them, about to begin

The ogre is busy getting the ‘smart class’ video ready for them, having given them a small story to read while she works.
A loud cough is heard, very very loud, and very very painful. She decides to ignore it, knowing them 😆
Suddenly, clapping, and the words of the Sanskrit Birthday song (will edit and add later, as I had not recorded this as it unfolded :D) fill the room, and the shell-shocked ogre, who cannot stop grinning, and blushing at the same time turns to face them. She’s wearing red, and is sure her face is just as red. (Have to ask the kids about it 😛 )

This had to be a first. For her, at least 🙂
A young lad, A., comes up and hands her a card, hand-made, with a verse he had written, and a gift wrapped book. She is persuaded to read, and to open her ‘gift’. Richard Bach’s ‘Bridge Across Forever’. Woah. Woah. She’s super-overwhelmed and speechless. She is. (You see that was what was meant earlier, their researching skills, and collaboration :D)

The verse, the book, the gift wrapping :)

The verse, the book, the gift wrapping 🙂

DSC00455

And she is enchanted, charmed no end. She knows that her heart holds much more than the words she has spoken, in deep affection, for them. For she’s shared, here, more on them. They are a Class Apart, truly. And one whose affection is seen in this Rich Harvest. She’s been three times lucky to have them, and while this may be the last year they are together, with her, she knows they will be added to the ever growing list of really special people who have touched her heart.

She wants them to know this. She wants everyone to know 🙂

Heck. Enough of sounding like an imbecile, talking in the third person. I think I ought to do the actual thank-yous myself.

Thank you, endlessly and infinitely, you marvellous  😄 kids. You’re awesome. Truly. I mean, I give you all something close to verbal overdoses quite regularly, and yet you do this. Sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart 🙂 (Interesting trivia: a couple of years ago, another 😄 class gave me the most wonderful ‘farewell’, the picture of which I’ve shared on one of the albums on FB 🙂 ) Yeah. (and my own two kids would underscore this – 😄 is awesome :D)

And, to top it all, my phone rings, while I am out with Kiran, and N., and the voice asks me to come out, for he has a surprise for me 😀 I have to explain I’m not home. Undettered, Karthik pops up at where we are, with a bagful of goodies: candies and chocolates! And yet another a belated wish 🙂 And a certain young girl,K.,  of the above mentioned class – she was the surprise 🙂 🙂 My day is made. Thank you, both!

15 August, 2013

I want to wish you all for the Independence Day, but coming away from the tragic news of the INS Sindhurakshak, and her missing crew of 18 (as of writing this), I find a heaviness inside that prevents me from rejoicing for the nation. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the crew as they pass through this difficult time.

And while I’m at it, all of you kids, and others who are here, please do take a look at this link that warns us about our use of smartphones. You might want to change certain settings, if this gets you worried.

http://kyeos.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/warning-if-you-take-photos-with-your-cell-phone/


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Truly a Vijay Diwas

This is in continuation to my previous post, about Vijay Diwas (link ), that was to have been observed on 26 July, 2013, to mark yet another anniversary of the success of Operation Vijay, at Kargil. The fourteenth anniversary.

So why am I here, at least two days late, and that too with a weekend in between? 😀 Do excuse me, but I had made a promise to myself, having mounted a personal Operation Vijay to succeed with marking papers (and nothing, NOTHING was to come between me and that task 😛 )! Let me give you the good news of that success first!

But, more importantly, it was the success of the activity at school that really makes me call it a Vijay Diwas. Victory in small and great measures. In that single day’s activity, whether it registered fully or not, the entire campus, each classroom, the corridors, the window panes, were awash with messages of Patriotism, with skits, paintings on the walls, puppets, models, charts, candles lit, and the air of festive victory was indeed tempered with a bit of sombre memories of the happenings  fourteen years ago. 🙂

I normally do not like to share pictures of students for obvious reasons, but I think this time I should, just to show you their fine effort here (my class particularly :D) and also when they had made displays for the first and second days of this Malayalam Month, Karkidakom (this year it is started on 16 July… also called the Ramayana Maasam (meaning month). They learnt much then too, of the ‘Dashapushpam’, the ten plants that are revered, and used through the  month, and honoured too! And the “Pathela” (10 leaves, Pathth – 10, Ela – leaf)). which is cooked ( a recipe that my mother shared and which has been written down in Malayalam figures in the picture 🙂 ) on the first Friday of this Malayalam month. The activities really brought home the ignorance of the kids, who could not recognize these simple plants and leaves that grew in abundance in their own little compounds, and even on the roadside. It however helped to rectify this problem to an extent, when they actually did research, and did the arrangement; and more importantly, connected with their grandparents in finding out the history behind it all! For me too, it was a huge learning experience! Let me just show you 🙂 The pictures are extremely amateurish, but what the heck, they’re still precious to me 🙂

26 July, 2013, in School 🙂

A section of the boys :D

A section of the boys 😀

The display at the back of the class... the concept was entire theirs :)

The display at the back of the class… the concept was entire theirs 🙂

A few lines of 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon' It was sung at Assembly that morning!

The PVC awardees... three of whom received it Posthumously

The PVC awardees… three of whom received it Posthumously

The zeal of the students in explaining to our visitors was so touching!

The zeal of the students in explaining to our visitors was so touching!

Us! A glimpse :)

Us! A glimpse 🙂

Us again... with a view of the back wall where the main display was!

Us again… with a view of the back wall where the main display was!

16th and 17th July, 2012: The Dashapushpam and Paththela Display 🙂

A look at the Dashapushpam, and the chart alongside

The making of the 'Paththela' Chart - the creativity was wonderful!

The making of the ‘Paththela’ Chart – the creativity was wonderful!

Many hands make light work :)

Many hands make light work 🙂

Getting in touch with Nature :)

Getting in touch with Nature 🙂

The Dashapushpam Display

This was simply out of the world! Paththela, written in Malayalam, on a leaf (I don't know which one it is, truly :D )

This was simply out of the world! Paththela, written in Malayalam, on a leaf (I don’t know which one it is, truly 😀 )

The chart, the leaf, and a recipe to boot :) Errm... to cook :P

The chart, the leaf, and a recipe to boot 🙂 Errm… to cook 😛

Today is also my second born’s “Malayalam” birthday 🙂 We’re really lucky in that we can celebrate a birthday twice 😀 Twice the happiness, twice the effort too, sometimes, but it’s also two days we feel special, and love to make another feel special 🙂 Our parents have always done this, marked both days with little joys, and so it continues 🙂 🙂 Achukutts, the real post is coming, but do take your share of good wishes, and perk up your awesomeness factor 🙂 It may be the end of the day, almost, but well, that really doesnt matter :D! What matters is that you are so so so loved 🙂

28 July 2013

Edited to add, on 29 July, 2013

The Class (9D), won the best class in their category 🙂 🙂 Proud of you kids 🙂 🙂 They got a special mention for the way they took our visitors around, and graciously explained the display! Yippeeeee!


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You’re worth it!

The day promised to be long. Heck, her class to start the day. He missed last year’s class.  No one claimed his attention. No one insisted he bring his book. He could conveniently and silently slumber, mentally. Play games, lose himself in a whole game, playing at multiple terminals. He had even wondered if he should simply not put in any effort his mother pushed him to, in order to pass. But there were limits to how much his imagination could rule. Reality had to intrude.

And, so, a new class. A new person, the same though, each day, to begin. He knew her. He knew how tenacious she could be. And that she’d allow nothing to escape her eagle eye. He gave himself up to the certain knowledge that she’d zero in on him, and make life difficult. He’d have to live, real-time.But he was pleasantly surprised. She smiled at him, and left him alone, to do as he wished, in the second last bench, then the last one, and then, as his turn at the front benches rotated, the first, second, third, and yet again, to the second last. Not a peep out of her, as a week and yet another half passed. He heaved a sigh of relief, and moved on, day-dream-wards.

Till that day, a month ago. Suddenly, out of the blue, she summoned him to the first bench, away from his comfort zone. She spoke often, directly, to him. She kept his mind zinging, ensuring that he needed to concentrate, directing sudden questions at him, to gauge his understanding. He had to participate. No matter that he could not relate, or could not give that satisfactory response, she’s put words into his mouth.

Still he resisted. He’d come unprepared. She let him prepare. She’d give him space to make his assignments complete, she’d give him leeway, and not call his parents when he knew she had to, in order to keep her sanity at least. Unwelcome and grudging though it was, he was beginning to respect the way in which she persevered, badgered and coerced without him knowing, it seemed.

Till last week, Thursday, when a perverse streak in him surfaced, yet again, and he came with studied nonchalance, his work incomplete. It had to be her bad hair day. He never knew when the swift rapier sharp words hit, but he found himself in detention. A phone call was made, to his father, who gladly agreed to have his son stay back. She had assured his father she’d drop him home. No escape.

Sullenly he waited after school, watching his friends leave. Friends? Ha! How could they just leave? She called him, and asked him to wait in class, leaving a small package for him. Eat, she said, and I’ll join you in five minutes. He opened the packet. A vegetable puff and a cutlet. Wow. And boy! Was he hungry! He made short work of it, and wondered how he could continue to stay mad at her. He had to try though. It did very little for his self-respect to suddenly be pliant and willing. But what could he do other than just wait it out?

She came in, suddenly, briskly, asked him to sit. Opening his book to show her what he’d done, he quavered, wondering how he was going to word his half hearted apology. He felt he owed it to her, for her concern about the state of his stomach at least. She knew fourteen-year-old boys, that he realized.

Out of the blue, she asked him about his daily routine, his tuition classes, the subjects he liked, and did not, and the general methodology of his learning pattern; what he’d liked to do, if he didn’t have time to come school, or the desire to. They spoke in his mother tongue, and did not study a word, or write, or read. They simply talked. Again, grudgingly he acknowledged her ability to do just what he never thought she would. She was a wily one. He’d have to up his guard some more. However, in the course of simply sharing simple things, he managed to let slip a lot of closely held secrets. How self-conscious he was. How he hated to be laughed at, and how the others in class would, knowing this. How he could not get along with most of the boys. How he hated to ask for help.

How an hour fled, he did not realize. Then, in a couple of minutes, his father was there, to pick him up, having arranged it with his teacher. She spoke to him, suggested a few things, patted him on his back, and did not ask anything else of him, other than he commit himself to being better, because no one else could, for him. Hearing it from her, it made that difference. He’d almost decided to forgive her.

Till yesterday. When he got summarily thrown out. He’d pushed the limits of the Devil’s patience. He smirked at that memory. How apt! The analogy too. Though guilt tinged, and tingled where it should not, really. Nothing was complete for that day’s work, despite reminders.

So, there he was, reluctant to face her that day. More so as his work was complete and she’d know. In an about face, she did not ask him, or anyone. Instead, she got the whole class to do a written task, in class. Identifying about fifteen students, she asked for their work. He, of course, had to be one. Every now and then, she’d glance his way, and nudge, with her expression, in a manner that only he could make out. He gave her full marks for discretion. He did not want to, but then, he sighed, and did. They had to write about rains. He loved the rains, but he did not know what to write.

Half an hour passed. The bell rang. She collected the books and left. The books were returned an hour later. He didn’t open his book; he knew it would be bleeding. Her strokes were vicious, to him, each time she’d taken a look at his work. So what was new?

The last period came by, and he was in a hurry to go. Arranging his books to take home, he spied the note book. What the heck! he thought. I might as well get it over with, before Amma does. Cautiously he turned to the page. There! Red. Red. Red. But wait… seriously? Oh God! Really?

A fine attempt, she wrote. Try to write in paragraphs, and organize your points better.

Damn. For the first time, he understood that girly shampoo ad, that he laughed at all the time!

11 July 2013
Based, loosely, on a real time incident. Fictionalized appropriately. But of course 😛