Life Lessons: Teaching

By Hema Ravi

Teachers that work too hard are the ones that burn out…

“Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.” Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”  I have just picked up the concluding sentences to put forth my views on the essential question.

To begin with, this was an anecdote I heard from a motivational speaker who was addressing a group of teachers at a large gathering some years ago.   Although some say it is not a true story, it touched my core, how a teacher ought not to be-  never judge a student by his external appearance!

“Teachers that work too hard are the ones that burn out” –  Let us examine this a little.  Work, in dictionary parlance is -activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result, mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

Anyone who enters the teaching profession for ’employment’ (as stepping stone to other jobs) is definitely the one who would suffer a burn out within a short period;  on the other hand, the one who engages in  teaching as a meaningful pursuit, to achieve the larger goal of igniting young minds positively would only spread more radiance and positivity.

Having worked as a teacher for over fifteen years at elementary school (currently, I am an IELTS and Communicative English Language Trainer for adult learners), I have never wanted to run off from this profession, even though I have been mocked at by people for not making good money, remaining stagnant and overworked.

As a matter of fact, there is greater joy in giving back to Society as a teacher, more than as a daughter, wife, mother, daugher in law, or as upper divisional clerk in a government setup (where, I once was!).  No bank balance is stashed, nevertheless, the goodwill earned through the several students – ‘My Teacher’ compensates for all that.

Having said this, it’s not that one can be doing lesson plans, evaluating answer scripts and preparing exercises 24×7, a moderate approach to the profession (aka work-life balance!) will relieve the monotony of the profession.  Through networking (online forums),  the same topic can be approached in a new light, taking tips from the interactive sessions.

Limiting oneself to “I’ve taught this for several years” and the people around often brings in a sense of disillusionment. Contrarily, a new approach to the same topics would be a whiff of perfume in the class that the teacher and the taught would enjoy.

I would like to conclude with this favorite quote- “The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.”

About the Author: Hema Ravi is a freelance trainer for IELTS and Communicative English.  Her poetic publications include haiku, tanka, free verse and metrical verses.  Her write ups have been published in the Hindu, New Indian Express, Femina, Woman’s Era,  and several online and print journals; a few haiku and form poems have been prize winners.  She has contributed to the ‘Destine Literare’ (Canada). Besides,  she is the author of ‘Everyday English,’ ‘Write Right Handwriting Series1,2,3,’ co-author of  Sing Along Indian Rhymes’ and ‘Everyday Hindi.’  Her “Everyday English with Hema,” a series of English lessons are  broadcast by the Kalpakkam Community Radio. She is the Secretary of the Chennai Poets’ Circle.

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