Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” I had a hard time believing this as the avenue of teaching was pretty new to me. Yes, it was interesting getting to know all the young toddlers, their whims and fancies and the never ending imaginary stories. Everyone told me it would be a piece of cake for me to be a teacher as I had always loved and adored children and I considered being around children the best part of my day.
Surprisingly, what everyone forgot to tell me was about the sacrifices I would have to make to be a teacher. You must be thinking what kind of sacrifices does one have to make to be a teacher? Let me tell you the list is pretty long and quite demanding. You have to trade in your heels for flats, give up on staying awake late in the night, be careful of your actions and words as you now find yourself in a world of small innocent souls, who readily accept you for who you are and almost certainly start to imitate everything you do.
Even after getting to know all this, first hand during a rigorous learning and training period, I was unsure of myself in the role of a teacher. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I was pretty sure I would make a huge mistake someday and some poor little child would get hurt because of me. This thought process really got me upset, because usually I come across as a confident, energetic and happy go lucky kind of individual. Then why was I so unsure of myself this time, why the doubts??
Maybe I was in the wrong profession, maybe the children did not like me, maybe I wasn’t the amazing teacher everyone thought I would be, these doubts started to surround me like a thick fog. Restless though I was I went to school that day and found myself in a class full of toddlers unsure of my presence among them which had kind of become a routine by now and then suddenly before I had time to react it happened.
A student of mine while playing with some toys on the shelf happened to pull down the entire rack of toys, I quickly got him out of harm’s way, but he was scared and had started to cry, while I sat with him in my lap trying to pacify him, he said the words that cleared the fog of doubt forever. He said, “Mummy I am sorry, I will not do this again, I promise” and there was my silver lining.
One phrase that changed my mind set about becoming a teacher forever, when had the transition happened? When did this child start feeling as safe with me as he did with his mother? I had no idea at all.
At the end of that day, when I handed him over to his mother, he said, ‘Bye teacher’ it somehow made me feel proud hearing the word “Teacher” as that was the day I realised that I had chosen the right profession because during the course of all those hours spent in class while listening to my students talk endlessly about things that mattered the most to them, at some point in time without me knowing I had made the transition from being a mentor/teacher to that person with whom the children felt absolutely safe with.
It was as Joe Manchin had said,” Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that’s not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or a neighbour but most often it is always a teacher.”