“'Miss, in my third standard, we had Vishaka miss as our class teacher. She was very kind to all of us. She would always take care of my studies and was good with me.' And then he abruptly went quiet.
‘Nothing to worry about, Nimesh, I’m here with you. Tell us what you feel? Did you miss that teacher in further grades?’ I asked, meanwhile trying to comfort him.
He said nothing until his parents supported him to speak. Finally, he opened up with hesitation. ‘I missed her. But...err...the next grade onwards, no teacher was like her.’
‘In what ways? What did you miss about her the most?’ I asked.
‘She was good with me. And she was very helpful.’
‘The other teachers never felt so helpful?’
’The other teachers paid little attention to me. Many of them paid attention to the toppers and always talked about them.’
‘You felt neglected, right?’
‘Yes, ma’am.’ He lowered his eyes. ‘Even a few friends teased me for not having the teacher’s attention. I felt like crying.’
‘Perhaps you did not feel like studying anymore, did you?’ I asked.
‘Everyone was forcing me to earn good marks. And I also tried studying, but I did not understand math and science. And then slowly, slowly, I did not understand other subjects as well.'
‘You did not ask any friend for help?’
‘I thought they would tease me so I did not ask.’
When did things change then?’
‘Miss, after you came, you were very kind to me. You also believed in me. So I did not want to disappoint you. You have taught me many good things. I will always remember what you said, ‘Give your best and leave the rest.’'
That was it. The entire case came out crystal clear. The child needed affection, and someone to understand him, to motivate him. I remembered the time when I was in school. I was this quiet little girl who wanted to do tons of things but rarely gathered the confidence to do so. How I wished to get support and understanding from my teachers without asking for it. Perhaps Nimesh felt the same way.
If only I had a teacher back then, who was as kind to me as I was with Nimesh, how significantly my childhood would have prospered. Never mind. The past is gone and only the memories are left. But that day, through Nimesh I felt I gave a child what I wished I had. That was one of the most unexpected and liberating realizations I had. Boosting my student’s confidence helped me boost mine.
Before leaving, the parents thanked me again and said, ‘We never thought that our child felt left out all these years. We never asked him, ‘Is there anything bothering you?’ Instead, we always pressured him and compared him with other children. We thought this way we can push him to act out of fear. But now we realize how insensitive we were. This will not happen again, we promise.’
We talked a little while about it when her mother said, ‘please be attentive to our child. He needs a teacher like you. He respects you a lot, more than us.’
If you are interested in understanding how a child's psychology works, here are a few book recommendations.
‘You need not worry about him. My only request to you is to please show faith and understanding to your child. This petty act goes a long way!’ I said in support of the child.
With time I realized it was not just Nimesh, but the entire class who respected me. And not just that, I witnessed their innocent love, and of course their childlike, mischievous friendship. I definitely had my best experience while I was here."
A memorable day from the school. #throwback Image Copyright © POOJA KAKDE
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
RELATED TO THIS STORY:
What are your thoughts about this story? Do let me know in the comments. Also, subscribe to my blog to never miss any content updates!