Monday, September 13, 2010

More first day jitters and joys

Taking on from where the print edition of Teacher Plus (September 2010) left off, here are more anecdotes from teachers who refreshed their memories of their first day on the job, and shared them with us.

We would like to thank all the teachers who allowed us a peek into their first day as teachers.

Anitha Sreekumar, Abu Dhabi
I was 24 years old when I started my career as a teacher in a professional engineering college. I was supposed to take class for the final year students, about 22 years of age. Since the difference in age wasn’t much I was sure my students would look at me only as a senior with whom they could have fun. But as a debutant teacher, I expected them to be very humble and receptive.

With a storm of thoughts in my mind I entered the lecture hall and started teaching a subject which I hadn’t really specialized in. I had mugged up a lot on Town Planning (while my specialization was Structural Engineering), and tried to reproduce it in the classroom. But I realized that halfway through the class, many students had escaped through the windows when I turned towards the blackboard to write something.

That day I realized that I have to develop a keen interest in any subject that I teach and make sessions interactive for students to engage them in the learning process. Students' pranks are just a reaction to deal with their boredom.

This is not to forget that teachers also have their ups and downs. But we have better ways to overcome it - by practicing yoga or meditation. Today, when some of my students come to see me I feel that teaching is the most wonderful job in this world. I cherish teaching...

Chandrika Seetharam, Bangalore.
Destiny it was that brought me face to face with Sister Cynthia as I escorted my two children to school. She had a worried look on her face as I wished her a very good morning. At this she seemed to brighten up and asked me if I was interested in teaching as one of her teachers had reported sick and would not be able to get back to school for two months.Having nothing else to do I accepted. But I was very apprehensive as well as I had never taught in any school. The only teaching that I had done was that of teaching my children. The fact that I would be teaching the II standard made me a little more confident. My daughter was the same age. I entered a class of 70 children all aged between 7 and 8; the noise that they created was deafening and I racked my brain trying to think of a way to keep them quiet. I said to them, “Who wants to hear a story?” and then like the audio had been turned off all noise ceased and they looked at me in rapt attention. Now, the only problem was that all the stories I knew had fled out of my mind. I frantically made up one and that is how my love affair with children began. Slowly I made friends with the children by asking them their names, not that I could remember them but it made them feel important. We started with the lessons and I slowly realized that this was my true calling. There were many incidents that had me rolling in laughter at times and exasperated at others.

The examinations evoked different responses some would be super confident while others would be nervous. One super confident child would keep asking for extra paper and I would be very happy to see him writing so much, only to discover that he was merely copying the question paper. I was a natural at teaching and though I had not given much thought to my career, destiny had decided it for me.

It has been nearly twenty years since that fortunate meeting with Sister Cynthia when she unwittingly set me on this joyous path. Now I have a lot of students past and present who
update me on their journey through life. What could be more satisfying than to have ignited a passion of learning in young minds?

Gita Girsh, New Delhi
Teaching has always been a passion for me since my childhood. After finishing my M Sc in Plant Physiology I took up B.Ed to become a full fledged teacher. Towards the end of my course, I had joined a school for practice teaching and coincidentally that was the school where I had studied. The first day, I went with mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness. I was extremely excited to be on the other side of the table for the first time.
The Principal gave me the timetable in the morning and my first class for the third standard. I wondered how I would be able to reach out to such small students. When I entered the class I was overwhelmed by their innocent ‘Good Morning ’and that set me going. I fell in love with my job and the students just in one go. Initially, I was nervous whether I would be able to control the class. But it was a wonderful experience and I was able to establish a bond with the students soon. I thoroughly enjoyed my first day at school.

Kumud Sharma, Ahmedabad
Since childhood I have been an ambitious girl. I wanted to stand on my own feet as soon as possible. Teaching children always attracted me as I found it to be the most respectable job and I always enjoyed the company of children.

After completing nursery teachers’ training I was lucky enough to get appointed in a well-reputed school. Since it was my first day in school I was excited as well as nervous. Dressed in a sari I went to the class, wished the children good morning and introduced myself. But none of them replied they were just looking at me. My confidence was beginning to wobble. Why were the children not returning my greeting? Was there a language problem?

There were some children crying in the class. I continued with my efforts and tried to be friendly with them. I was thinking, will I be able to manage? Finally the ice broke; one tiny angel came to me and said, “Aap acche dikhte ho.” It gave me a ray of hope as some conversation had begun. Gradually they felt comfortable and some wanted to sit in my lap all the time.

As I was appointed a nursery teacher I started with rhymes and songs and helped children do other activities. I had a tough time helping children finish their tiffin boxes. The last activity of the day was telling a story which I had prepared before going to school. I started narrating the story but children started coming up with the own stories.

During dispersal time, few children said, “Hum kal phir school aayenge.” In the morning, handling these children made me nervous but now these words gave me confidence. This sentence gave me the strength, “Yes I can”. I went home happily with a feeling of great achievement and became a teacher for good.

I have been teaching children for the past 17 years, each day I am growing and learning from my children.

Lilly deSousa
I vividly remember the day I walked in the school to begin my first day as a teacher. The school was familiar as it was the same school I had passed out of. That was nine years ago and today I was walking in as a teacher.
With nervous excitement and trepidation in my heart I marched ahead. I was given charge of class 5. The bell sounded at 8 AM and I walked into the class with some books, a handbag on my shoulder and exhibiting the confidence I didn’t really have.
As I entered the classroom I was assailed by the chorus of ‘Good Morning Miss’. I wanted to turn and run away as I saw 50 pairs of eyes watching me and my every move. However, gathering all the courage I had and sending a silent prayer to the Lord Almighty I wished them ‘Good Morning children’. (Children?  I felt like a child myself.)
Since it was the first day of school we were instructed by the principal to just have the introductions. I had a few games lined up in my mind to get going. As I started the ice-breaking session I could actually feel the ice melting and the children had so much to share about what they had done during their summer holidays. Only when the bell sounded announcing that the period was over did we realize how quickly time had passed.
I have come a long way since then, but still I can’t say I have learnt it all. It’s a new experience as I deal with a new set of students every year.

Meeta Mehta, Ahmedabad
I still remember 1-8-2005 as it proved to be a turning point in my life. I love to be with children, but never thought I would become a teacher. As far as I was concerned a teacher’s job was very monotonous and therefore boring. Even today I do not know what motivated me to go for an interview at the Greenwud campus for the post of a pre primary teacher.
Every teacher can recount numerous highs and lows in their teaching career. Personally, I experienced many great moments while teaching, but the first day is always very special. On my first day I was as nervous as a toddler. My mentor asked me to observe the children and help them when required. I noticed that she kept asking children to converse in English. A small girl came to her and told her in Gujarati that she hurt leg when she was playing in the garden at home. So ma’am asked her to say the same thing in English and she replied, ‘Ma’am, my leg waga hai’. The teacher heard this patiently and told her how to say the same thing in English. Her sensitivity towards the child was very touching. This incident left an impression on my mind.

I was not very good at drawing and since the children were too small to read most of the black board was filled with pictures. The children were going to listen to the story of the Thirsty Crow and so I was asked to draw the story on the board. Once I had finished drawing, one of the children came to me and said, “I thought you were going to tell us the story of the ‘Thirsty Crow’ then why did you draw the Ugly Duckling on the board! God! Was I that bad? I learnt how to draw on the blackboard from my colleagues.

I would like to conclude this article by taking back my words - a teacher’s job is not all monotonous, in fact a teacher needs to be a multifaceted personality. The object of teaching a child is to enable him/her to get along without his/her teacher.

Geeta Nair
I chose teaching as my profession as I enjoyed being with children and spending time with them. After my graduation I decided to teach in a school in Baroda. I chose to work with Shaisav school which encouraged inclusive education. On my first day at work I was welcomed by the supervisor with a warm smile. She suggested that I look around the school and said that later one of the teachers will take me to the kindergarten section.

All the little ones were busy when I entered my classroom. As soon as I stepped inside I felt somebody pinching and pushing me. I turned to see a boy around 10yrs staring at me angrily. He was Zuber and was suffering from Down’s syndrome. I was told that he always did that when there was a new teacher in the class. Later, after all the introductions were over, Zuber came up to me and showed me the door as if asking me to go out. By then, I knew that I had to get friendly with him. I recalled the words of my mentor, “To be with children and know them better you need to be a child first”. I went up to him and smiled. He ignored me and started tearing some papers. I then held his hands and told him to stop doing that and to play with me. I made some funny faces at him to make him smile and then he started laughing and some of the children joined him.

Soon I found myself alone with 25 noisy children in the class. Nothing I said helped quiet them down. They all behaved as if I was not there at all. Some left the classroom and some opened their lunch boxes. Exercising some restraint, I managed to get the children in and started telling a story about the cap-seller and the monkeys. After the story they all enacted the story. I was unaware that I was being observed by the school director Ms.Rajeshwari. She walked in and told me that I was doing a good job. I was happy as my work was appreciated. That motivated me to do even more. As each and every minute passed by Zuber was getting more close to me and I was getting to know him better.

By the end of the day, I came to know that I would be handling this class independently. When it was time to leave, Zuber hugged and kissed me.  Wow! What a day it was! I realized that one had to be patient, loving and caring while dealing with children. It has been 13 years since I began teaching. I am thankful to God for making me a teacher. Oh! I really miss that class of mine and of course my little gentleman-Zuber. This was indeed the happiest day of my life and I don’t think I shall ever forget it as long as I live.

Parul Yagnik, Ahmedabad
“A child is not a vessel to fill, but a lamp to be lit.”

As a young girl, I always wanted to be a teacher. Why did I choose to become a teacher? First, I love children and second, I love learning and helping others learn.

Every teacher remembers his/her first teaching day vividly, such experiences are hard to forget because the first experience itself decides the career of a person, whether he/she continues in this profession or chooses another.

I was appointed as a co-teacher for preschoolers in Delhi Public School, Ahmedabad in the year 2002. When I entered my classroom, I was introduced to my senior teacher. I was a little nervous and had mixed feelings and emotions. The students too stared at me with apprehension. The day started with prayer, national anthem and daily attendance. As I was determined to give my best, I tried to build a rapport with my children. I introduced myself to them and asked their names too. Being a fresher, I was not aware of the methodology, the planning and also the proper usage of teaching aids, I was just helping myself to get acquainted to the class.              

But, I would like to thank my senior teacher who helped and guided me. She made me comfortable by asking me to sing an action song. For little kids, body language is the best way to gain their attention. I used my facial expressions, gestures and voice modulation, which really helped my children develop a bond with me. I could feel that children were having a great time which eased me. I was sure I had made a good beginning. Dispersal took place after giving them their home assignment. The day went off smoothly.
After the students left, I started thinking to myself, how difficult it was initially but finally I had found the right direction to my life. I have never looked back ever since. I have always tried to give my best and have been proud to be a teacher.

“The time to be happy
Is now.
The place to be happy
Is here.
And the way to be happy
Is to make someone happy
And we’ll have a little heaven ride here.”

It was my first day at this pre primary school and I was very nervous. I knew I had to make learning both creative and interesting for these little children. Although at first the children found it difficult to accept a new teacher, I managed to break the ice with them. We started off with our introductions, post which we moved on to the part which was less interesting to them, studies! Now it was a challenge for me to make this part very interesting for them, so I adopted a learn-while-you-have-fun kind of approach with them, because teachers, especially at the elementary level, must be very creative with their teaching styles. Not every child learns the same way, nor are they interested in the same things. These children were really fast in grasping the new way of learning. But amongst the fast learning children, there were also those that were less blessed – the special learners. But I really had built a very strong bond with these special learners who were trying to catch up with other children in the cat race.

Thus, my first day at school was full of mixed feelings, feelings of pride and joy and of sadness and pain. But all in all my first day at school was an amazing experience and as it is said at every point of life along with every experience you learn something and my learning was
“ Life is not a race,
Do take it slower!!
Enjoy the music,
Before the song is over!!”

Saminder Kaur, Bopal

As a young girl I always wanted to be a teacher. The day when the appointment letter landed in my hand, my ecstasy knew no bounds. It was like a dream coming true for me.
I still vividly remember the first day I stepped into the school. It was a bright sunny morning with cool breeze emberacing the ambience. Slightly nervous but confident, I entered the classroom.

It touched my heart when the children stood up and greeted me. This made me very comfortable because it was really a good start. After the initial mutual introduction, I wanted to get the children excited about environmental studies as that was my subject.
They say, “The goldsmith heats the gold before he carves an ornament out of it.” To get their attention I said, “Do you know children, you are the true custodian of this beautiful planet called, The Earth?” The children looked at me bewildered. I broke the pin-drop silence with a joke.

The children were happy to listen to this and I knew that this was the time to start my lesson. The whole period flew by before I knew it. I ended the period as I began with a joke. At the end of my first day, a few lines of an old melodious Hindi song were reverberating in my ears. It is most apt and apposite for the children.
“ Tu pyar ki rah dikha duniya ko,
   Roke jo nafrat ki aandhi….
   Tumame hi koi Gautam hoga,
   Tumame hi koi hoga Gandhi…” 

Gayatri Nair, Ernakulam
“The day you think of yourself as a teacher you stop learning”.

This adage was resonating in my mind as I walked through the corridor of my alma mater to share what little knowledge I had. Entering the staff room was surreal as I had previously walked up to many a teacher, in the staff room, for the customary Q&A sessions. But now, here I was in the vicinity of my gurus, being warmly welcomed as a colleague.

Fresh out of college, walking into a class of young adults I can say that I was tempted to sit on a bench rather than on the pedestal that teachers are often asked to sit on. As I watched many pairs of eyes following, observing and critiquing me I suddenly realized that they were as scared as I was. Teaching is actually the easier job. It is learning, understanding and assimilating that is harder. To further this end it is imperative that every teacher be an educator, realize that every student is not just a name but a person in the making whose world views you will shape, mould and bring to full form.

Shakuntala Jaisinghani
Some are born to be teachers, some have teaching thrust on them. I belong to the latter category which culminated in my conviction that actually I belonged to the former. Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it?

I had gone for my daughter’s admission to a convent school and in the course of the interview, to my great surprise, she not only got admission, but I was offered the job of a ‘substitute’ teacher for a week! I was quite reluctant to take on a responsibility for which I was neither qualified nor experienced but the principal persuaded me to take it up as she said she saw the potential in me! I finally succumbed to her request and agreed to do it-but only for one week.

When I left the school after my first day of teaching I said to myself ‘I’ve found my niche in life’. This was 32 years ago and I’ve never looked back since then. I started teaching as a Primary school teacher, did my B.Ed and went on to teach secondary and higher secondary classes ,ended up as a Principal and now I train teachers and am a consultant for a number of schools.

The trust in the eyes of the students, the feeling of doing something worthwhile, the fulfillment you feel at the end of the day, even though you may feel drained physically(and sometimes mentally and emotionally too); all this and more is what I have gained as a teacher in all these years.

It’s not always been smooth sailing. I still remember the number of times I would run to my Principal with my resignation, telling her that I was unfit to be a teacher, but her undying faith in me and her valuable advice always saw me through.
Even today I ‘m happiest when I m teaching children-of whatever age, as it still remains my first love (a kind of addiction is what I call it when I’m training teachers)
I owe it all to one person who taught me, directed me and believed in me, to be a “teacher” (or ‘facilitator’, the new term for teachers) in the true sense.

Remediana Rodrigues e Dias
I remember I was very excited and overwhelmed on my first day as a teacher. I had my own classroom and with it unlimited opportunities. I organized my class first and then we had the introductions. I took the children out to play the dog and the bone game. Children are very clever. They gauge you quickly. They found me soft and for the rest of the week they tried to take advantage of me. My first day was a wonderful learning experience. I realized that a teacher needs to show that she means business right from day one and that children pick it up from there. I have grown as a teacher and today after more than 10 years of teaching, I smile when I recollect how raw I was on that first day of teaching.

Vijayalakshmi Ramsai, Chennai
I had always wanted to become a teacher and finally at age 35 I decided to live my dream. In June 2000, I joined a school as a computer teacher.

I teach 1000 students every week from kindergarten through second standard. My classroom is set up with computers on two walls of the room. My first period started with 40 children of the LKG. I had to keep these 40 children engaged while introducing them to computers. I selected The Lion and the Mouse story. and played it on the computer. The children were very attentive as the story was a rich mixture of graphics, sound, animation and narration. I then gave the UKG children an ice cream counting game and a game with rhyming words. For the first and second class students I had addition sums using pizza.

The first day went off very well. My classes were interactive and therefore attractive for the kids. I realized that the computer could be a very useful assistant in the process of education. After all the 7 periods got over, I remember each class went away joyous and happy. Thinking and learning cannot occur without innovation and classroom management skills.

Even though my schedule is challenging, I really enjoy it. I know that the children I teach are learning and growing because of my efforts and that makes the time I invest worthwhile. I hope that eventually more people are motivated to transfer their skills and talents.

A.G.Lakshmi Sujatha, Hyderabad
A fresh out of college, B.Ed graduate in 1990 I got my first opportunity to teach when I was asked by a school to teach some of their students who had failed and others who were considered slow learners after school hours. I was to teach all subjects be it mathematics, science or English to these children. I took this assignment as a challenge and helped my students improve. Around the same time I got this assignment, I also had the opportunity to attend a workshop on low cost teaching aids organized by N.R.K. Murthy, an educational advisor. The workshop gave me both ideas and the direction to take with my first students. I was also fortunate to work with colleagues who gave me all the support and co-operation that I needed during my first days. .

Vandana Devan, Kochi
Immediately after my marriage I went to Jaipur. I was just a graduate then. I joined a nearby school as an English teacher just to kill boredom at home.

My first class was Std. I. When the tiny kids stood up and gave me the customary 'good morning miss,' I have to say I felt very proud and happy.

I opened the textbook and the lesson was "The Sun". I read the first sentence out aloud, "The Sun rises in the east." The blank look on kids' face startled me. I sensed that language was the problem and quickly tried to translate the sentence into Hindi and said "Sooraj poorab mein nikaltha hain." They continued staring at me without knowing what 'poorab' meant! I just said "dekhthe hain na, sooraj subah hote hi pedoen ke peeche se aata hain and went to the next sentence. That is when I realized that teaching needs a lot of traning!

Vandana Joshi, Ahmedabad
I was assigned to teach Classes I, VII & VIII when I joined as a teacher for the very first time in my life. I was to first teach Class I. I had mixed feelings and was a bit nervous. But the fact that I was going to first face Class I students gave me courage. My training to become a teacher came in handy. They seemed to have ‘accepted’ me once their short lived curiosity about the ‘new teacher’ waned. After the initial interaction, I started teaching my subject. After doing some reading work we proceeded to do some writing work. I was getting more comfortable with every passing minute.

My students perhaps liked my teaching style as they were very cooperative and attentive in class. When I gave them writing assignments to complete all my students got busy. One little fellow in the corner, however, had not started. I wondered, “Is everything not well?” I went up to the student. Before I could ask him, he lifted his face revealing his cute large eye balls with a sense of desperation in them. Simultaneously, he slightly raised his hand and tried to hesitantly show me his pencil. Before he could say anything I realized that the tip of his pencil was broken which was preventing him from writing.

I offered the little one my help by sharpening the tip of the pencil. I could see the ‘thanks’ emanating more from his eyes that in the words he spoke in a very soft tone.

Suddenly, I heard ‘tuck’ ‘tuck’ sounds all over the classroom. All the children were trying to break their pencil leads! I immediately recognized that they all wanted the attention I had just given this one student. I had to patiently sharpen many more pencils. Though it was a bit tiring and an odd experience, it was a great learning experience as well. Students crave for attention. If as a teacher I am able to give attention to my students they will be charged to learn and I can achieve my objective. This first day experience is still fresh in my mind and whenever I enter a class this scene flashes before me and every time helps me to remember what I am supposed to do. I treasure this learning from my students on the first day as teacher and it has helped me all along in trying to be as effective as possible as a teacher. And the learning has worked well.

Bharti Hingorani, Ahmedabad
I have always wanted to be a teacher. I enjoy the company of small children so I became a preschool teacher. On my first day, I was escorted to a huge hall where simultaneously four activities could be carried out by four teachers. I was given one batch and was told to take craft activity to begin with -teach paper folding to kindergarten children. Children started coming, like other teachers I stood out to welcome them with a “Namaste”. The little angels stared at me, looked here and there for known faces to feel secure. .After the bell rang; another teacher came. After saying the prayers the teacher introduced me and left me to manage the class. I got nervous when I realized that all that the children could speak was Gujarati. I didn’t understand a word of the language. One child came forward and said “pee pee” (wanted to go to the washroom). I couldn’t understand and kept asking “What do you want? I looked around for help; the other teachers were busy teaching. But I got up to ask one of the teachers the meaning. She laughed and told me the child wanted to go to the washroom. I rushed to call the maid to send the child to the bathroom before he made a mess in the class. Then I resorted to sign language with the children. I showed them colourful glaze papers and started folding paper to make a boat. One child shouted “Mane aapo” (give me). Again I looked for help to understand what the child was saying. A feeling of helplessness started creeping in.                                                                                   

 The first thought that came to my mind was that I wouldn’t be able to teach for long. Then I braced myself and tried to make a success of my first day as a teacher. I made efforts to attract them with my gestures and voice. Slowly the children started responding to me, they sensed my discomfort so they also tried to explain through actions. It struck me that it was my job to make them comfortable and not theirs to make me comfortable. But these little kids were trying to put me at ease. I managed to pass three hours with lots to learn. When it was time for them to go home, one little girl came near me and pulled my kurta, and asked “Kale aavso” (will you come tomorrow?) When I managed to decode the meaning, my happiness knew no bounds as I had been able to touch one little heart. I had not been a failure. And it’s been 13 years and there has been no looking back. These small souls have become a source of immense happiness and inspiration for me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

going on, and ongoing

After that dramatic notice of the shut down in July, our subscribers and well wishers may have been surprised (pleasantly so, we hope) to see the August issue out and promises of more to come. When we announced the imminent closure due to lack of funds, we were overwhelmed by the number of emails we received affirming the value of the magazine and asking if any help could be provided to keep it going. The team then decided to hunker down and see if this were indeed possible. As we noted in the last post, we are committed to the idea of a professional magazine, and we believe completely in its relevance and the possibility of success.

A principal from an army school recently called the office to tell us that for a teachers' day gift, her staff chose to receive subscriptions to the magazine over anything else--no sarees or boxes or kitchen doodahs! This is great news for us, and we hope many other teacher groups will feel the same way. It's only if more and more teachers read the magazine and feel a sense of community with others whose views are expressed in its pages, will the profession begin to feel like one.  Teachers need to voice their ideas and their reactions to trends that often leave them bewildered and alienated, trends that in fact affect them and their work deeply. They should be shaping and directing these trends, not simply following them helplessly or worse, resentfully. And voicing one's opinion is the first step to becoming part of a set of opinion makers, and gradually, opinion leaders.

Teacher Plus is now going through a transition of sorts. The struggle for survival continues, but it is continuing in the hope that sustainability will be reached sooner rather than later. Principals, teachers, concerned educationists and administrators and readers from other groups need to lend their support to the magazine if our journey is to be eased somewhat! Write for us, subscribe to the magazine, and help us grow!

Friday, June 25, 2010

why a professional magazine makes sense

We've been overwhelmed by the number of encouraging notes we've received from friends and readers, and many people who have followed the fortunes of Teacher Plus over the years and are sad to see it go. Many have offered direct support in some measure, others have asked what they can do to help. It gives us hope that the magazine--or an avatar of it--will survive.

Month after month, while putting together the magazine, one page was always hard to fill: the space we called "Forum", letters from readers. Sometimes we actually had to ask people to write letters! In more recent months we have had a slightly higher rate of response, but nowhere near the number of notes we have received in response to our mail about our decision to stop publication!

There have been days across these 21 years when we have sat down and taken apart the reasons for poor reader response and the failure to grow our subscription base to the extent we thought possible. Do teachers just not read. we wondered? Is it a question off too much work and too little time? Or do they not see themselves as "professionals" who need to also be involved in the development of the discipline and its application? Do they not think their ideas are worth sharing?

When we spoke to readers directly, most of them said they enjoyed reading the magazine, that they found some bits useful, others not really applicable to their situation... but overall they were positive about the magazine. So we continued to wonder, not being able to understand why response was so poor (other than knowing that we needed to spend much more time, effort and money or simply getting the word out).

We all know that there are communities of practice and communities of knowledge, and in many cases the two do not interact. The gap then between findings from research and reflection and their application to the sphere of practice keeps widening, although the raison d'ĂȘtre of the former is to influence and help positively impact the latter. Research in medicine, for instance, directly leads to better treatment options; research in engineering leads to new products or improvements on existing ones. So why is it that research in education and child development takes so much time to reach the classroom? Why do we not have more action research? Why are university departments of education so distanced from the practising teacher?

There are certainly efforts to bridge this gap; some schools actively promote research into practice for instance, and some university departments are making more concerted efforts to link with teachers and real classrooms, such as JNU's University Schools Resource Network. But these kinds of connections need to grow and flourish if the classroom (and all kinds of classrooms) are to benefit from the kind of thinking and innovation that goes on in higher education.

Teacher Plus, and such teacher magazines are a space where this gap can be addressed. Without unduly privileging either the academic or the practitioner, a professional magazine can equally address both and build bridges from one type of thinking to its testing in the field.

When looked at like this, issues of time or need become irrelevant. The content becomes relevant--and imperative for work to go on, with any measure of quality and meaning.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

endings and possible beginnings

Endings invariably hold within them seeds of many new beginnings. Teacher Plus, which turns 21 this month, has arrived at what appears to be the end of a difficult but always satisfying journey. It is in many ways ironic that this chronological coming of age has coincided with the closure of the magazine. But in these 21 years, we have created a small but loyal and always interactive community of readers, writers and thinkers who have shared their ideas and experiences with us and with each other through the pages of the magazine.

A big thank you to all those people--

  • teachers who continue to struggle and smile and suffer and find joy in classrooms;
  • curriculum developers who straddle the line between the ideal and the practical, who hold a vision in their heads and try to draw it on paper through syllabi and materials;
  • principals and school administrators who must meet varying demands, and serve diverse needs and expectations;
  • parents who hold hope and worry, and try to give their children the tools, through education, to deal with their futures;
  • reformers and idealists who think education holds the key;
  • ...and just everyone who fits those labels and others.

Teacher Plus has endeavored, through its articles, to spark ideas and means of their implementation in learning spaces, and also to give teachers a sense of themselves--as people, as professionals, as important catalysts of human development.

Unfortunately, material resources drive the expression of ideas, and when those resources are in short supply, it becomes difficult to sustain activity. Teacher Plus has been fortunate over the past 21 years to have had the support of many individuals and three organizations that have believed that change in education--through teachers--is possible. These are Orient Longman (now Orient Blackswan), Spark-India, and Wipro Applying Thought in Schools (WATIS). But at some point the ideas must create enough energy to propel their own expression. And that is what could not be achieved by Teacher Plus.

However, the team at Teacher Plus does not really believe that this is the end of the road. Call it denial, call it wishful thinking, but we truly think we have a good thing going, and it's not "done" to just shut shot and call it a day. We've had heartwarming and encouraging responses from authors and readers who have heard the news of the closure, and all of them have asked if they can do anything to help us stay afloat.

So we're thinking. And looking long and hard at possible options. Something may come of that yet.

In the meantime, this is a space where the Teacher Plus community can continue to share and continue to learn from each other.

Ideas are welcome!